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PROPERTY FROM THE ESTATE OF JOAN B. KROC
From the billions and billions of McDonald's hamburgers served, billions of dollars have been given to charity. Joan B. Kroc, a golden-haired beauty, carefully and deliberately directed the dispersal of the fortune built by her late husband, Ray Kroc, the savvy entrepreneur who built McDonald's into a global superbrand. After Ray Kroc's death at age 82 in 1984, Joan spent the nearly 20 subsequent years giving generously to a wide range of diverse and important causes.
Joan Kroc was a woman of considerable energies and unbridled spontaneity. When not at home in her gracious, luxurious estate north of San Diego, she enjoyed traveling the world on her private jet and yacht, both named "Impromptu". She also kept busy with her baseball team, the San Diego Padres. However, a considerable amount of her time was spent doing good. If a cause touched her in some way, she offered significant funding, often to the utter surprise of the recipients. She gave joyously and anonymously - in 1997, the citizens of flood-ravaged Midwestern states learned only by tracking the tail numbers on her jet that Kroc was their $15 million benefactor. Not a college graduate herself, she gave $6 million to establish the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame, followed over the years by another $64 million. She also funded the Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego with an $80 million donation. She bequeathed $200 million to National Public Radio. Even larger gifts went to The Salvation Army: almost $100 million to build a community center for underprivileged youths in San Diego - and then later a $1.5 billion bequest to build similar centers throughout the country, perhaps the largest gift ever given by an individual to a single charity. During her lifetime she gave multi-million dollar gifts too numerous to itemize, to local and global causes that touched her heart, including but hardly limited to the San Diego Hospice, the San Diego Zoo, the Betty Ford Center, the Special Olympics, education and the arts, African famine relief, nuclear disarmament and AIDS. "Mrs. Kroc chose her charities not just because there was a need, but because there was a need that got under her skin and into her heart," said Paul G. Schervish, director of the Social Welfare Research Institute at Boston College. And she gave transforming amounts of money, in order to actually see results.
This remarkable woman could comfortably mix the accoutrements of wealth with a deeply felt need to do good, to make a difference. On the occasion of a grandchild's 21st birthday, Joan Kroc wrote, "I want you to believe that a life of service is a happy one to lead. Serve others joyously and your reward will be great; carry with you the message of charity and brotherly love."