Variety Remembers Dr. William Danforth

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Dr. William “Bill” Danforth was an impressive, kind and generous man – we were saddened to hear of his recent passing. In his 94 years, Bill accomplished so much and gave back even more to the St. Louis community. It was for these reasons, and many more, that he was honored as Variety’s Man of the Year in 1995.

Bill dedicated much of his life to growing Washington University into the grand institution it is known as today. In 1957, he began his education career there as an instructor, moving up to assistant professor in 1960 before being named president of the medical school and vice chancellor of the university in 1965. Then, in 1971, he was named chancellor of the university, a post he served until 1995.

During Bill’s tenure as chancellor, the university’s enrollment and academic prestige grew immensely – Washington University is now ranked among the top universities in the nation. His family’s foundation, the Danforth Foundation, gave Washington University multiple generous gifts over the years to assist in this growth.

Although now shut down, the Danforth Foundation left its mark in St. Louis. Over the 84 years in which it operated, the Foundation awarded various St. Louis non-profits more than $1.2 billion in grants.

Outside of his work with Washington University and the Danforth Foundation, of which he was president from 1965 through 1997, Bill was a generous philanthropist on his own. He consistently supported Variety’s programs and services over the years, most recently our Durable Medical Equipment program. In addition, he was always ready and willing to offer his consultation and advice to our organization.

Thank you, Bill, for all that you gave to help Variety Kids and the St. Louis community as a whole. You will be missed!

You can read more about Bill and his many, many accomplishments here.