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ND benefactor dies of cancer at 75

Meghanne Downes | Monday, October 13, 2003

Joan Kroc, Notre Dame benefactor and philanthropist, died Sunday after a bout with brain cancer in her Rancho Santa Fe, Calif. home. She was 75.

Kroc, the widow of McDonald’s Corporation founder Ray Kroc, established and endowed the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at Notre Dame with $12 million in 1986 and was a major donator to peace organizations, said Scott Appleby, director of the Kroc Institute for International Studies.

Kroc, who had no direct connection to Notre Dame, decided to establish the foundation after she learned of then-University President Father Theodore Hesburgh’s desire to establish peace through cross-cultural study, dialogue and peace building.

“Mrs. Kroc was single-mined in her dedication to eliminating the threat of nuclear weapons and all forms of deadly violence,” Appleby and Hesburgh said in a joint statement. “The establishment and continuing support of Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute was just one of several important initiatives she fostered in support of human rights, conflict transformation and peace building around the world.”

Kroc also made substantial donations to establish the University of San Diego’s Institute for Peace and Justice and to the Salvation Army to build the Ray and Joan Kroc Community Center in San Diego. The Joan B. Kroc Foundation supported agencies that dealt with AIDS research, world hunger, substance abuse and care for the terminally ill, including the St. Vincent de Paul Joan Kroc Center for the Homeless in San Diego, San Diego Hospice and the Betty Ford Center, said Appleby.

“She was a kind and gracious person who sought no attention to herself and who wanted to give as much of her money as possible for the good causes in which she believed,” University President Father Edward Malloy said in a statement.

Kroc, who was a professional musician and music teacher, is survived by her daughter, four granddaughters and four great-granddaughters.