JoAnn Hejna was an integral part of Fred Saigh’s life and work for more than 60 years. JoAnn worked alongside Fred for 45 years and served as the executive director of The Saigh Foundation since its inception in 2000 until 2019.

Here, JoAnn provides memories of Fred and reflections on the Foundation’s philanthropic work.

Fred Saigh sitting at his desk

Reinforcing his decision

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No one realized Fred had a cleanliness fetish and did not want anything messy to touch him. He liked being a lawyer, but for a long time he considered going back to school and becoming a doctor, too. That lasted only until he was standing on the street talking to a friend when a very pregnant woman in a parked … Read More

Mistaken identity

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Whenever Fred went to New York he was mistaken for the actor, George Raft. Raft always played the role of a mean, tough, scowling guy, which was just the opposite of Fred. One day he asked me if I thought there was any resemblance to Raft so I told him they had no features alike. I think that was the … Read More

The show must go on

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I have always had a fear of birds and this story did not help. Fred liked to give money to programs for very young children. He asked me to meet with six women at a local school who needed money for a dancing program. When I arrived at the school the women were standing out in front to welcome me. … Read More

Fred’s inspiring generosity

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Fred and I had just finished a breakfast meeting at a local hotel, when a young woman ran in apologizing to everyone for being so late. She was supposed to park cars for the guests. She explained that she was a single mother of three, had just dropped them off at school, and now her car had broken down on … Read More

JoAnn’s first day

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On March 2, 1956, Fred interviewed me for the position as his assistant. I was so relieved when he said I had the job and would start on Monday, March 5th, which happened to be my 24th birthday. I hoped he hadn’t noticed that I had been putting blonde dye on my brown hair for months, ran out of money to buy … Read More

Dinner at the Musials

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Fred and Stan Musial both loved gadgets and Fred couldn’t wait to show him his new hearing aid that had a hand-held volume control. We met the Musials for dinner and as we sat down Fred handed Stan the new volume control. Before anyone could explain the gadget, Stan started pushing and pumping the control button and as Fred came … Read More