William H. Danforth passes at age 94

Missouri

ST. LOUIS – Dr. William H. Danforth passed away Wednesday morning at his home in Ladue, according to our partners at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Danforth was 94 years old. 

William Danforth was born into a family that made its name as the owners of Ralston Purina, which was founded by his Grandfather William Danforth. 

Danforth did not follow into the family business and instead had a career in medicine here in St. Louis.  

That career was interrupted by his military service during the Korean War, after which became an instructor at Washington University and eventually its Chancellor. 

He was married to Elizabeth Gray-Danforth in 1950. Elizabeth Danforth passed away from cancer in 2005 at the age of 75.  

At age 44, he took his experience to education when he became Chancellor of Washington University from 1971 to 1995. Under tutelage, the university became an international educational powerhouse boasting 11 Noble Prizes, 2 Pulitzers, making the university one of the top institutions in the United States. 

Danforth was also president of the Danforth Foundation from 1965 to 1997. The foundation was the philanthropic arm of the family that has donated over $750 million to causes in the St. Louis region. 

A funeral and memorial service are pending. 

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