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Joan B. Kroc: Wikis


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Joan Beverly Kroc (born Mansfield) (August 27, 1928–October 12, 2003) was the third wife of McDonald's CEO Ray Kroc and a philanthropist.



Kroc was born 1928 in West St. Paul, Minnesota. Her father worked for a railroad and her mother was an accomplished violinist. She studied music at the MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis and started teaching at age 15. In 1945 she married Roland Smith, a Navy veteran and they had her only child the next year.

Kroc met her future husband, McDonald's Corp. founder Ray Kroc, in 1957 while playing piano at a bar in St. Paul, Minnesota. Kroc said in his autobiography that he "was stunned by her blond beauty". They carried on a secret relationship until they both divorced their spouses and they married in 1969.



Kroc's first philanthropic endeavor was Operation Cork in 1976 in La Jolla. It aimed to inform doctors and other health workers about the dangers of alcoholism.

Her husband died in January 1984, leaving her his fortune and the San Diego Padres (who went on to win their first ever National League pennant that year) baseball team. She tried to donate the team to the city of San Diego, but Major League Baseball rules forbid public team ownership. Kroc sold the team in 1990 and turned her attention to philanthropy. She drew controversy when she alluded to paying star and future Hall of Fame shortstop Ozzie Smith to maintain her garden at a time where he was refused a raise by her team's general manager.

The Joan B. Kroc Foundation donated $18.5 million to the San Diego Hospice Corporation (now known as San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine) in 1985 to create its multi-purpose hospice center. The donation covered the cost of planning, land acquisition (6.5 acres), construction and interior furnishings of the center.

In 2002, Kroc Center, a large Salvation Army community center that she helped fund -- to the tune of $87 million -- opened to the public. Several institutions in the San Diego area are named after her, including the think tank Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice at the University of San Diego, the St. Vincent de Paul Joan Kroc Center for the Homeless in downtown and the Kroc-Copley Animal Shelter in the Morena District. America’s leading 'Peace' institution is probably the University of Notre Dame’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, established and endowed by Joan herself. [1]

She also supported the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities and Ronald McDonald Houses.

As Padres owner she started Major League Baseball's first employee-assistance program for players and staff with drug problems.

Kroc was also active politically. In 1985, she spent millions of dollars in support of nuclear disarmament.

She is affectionately known by the citizens of Grand Forks, North Dakota and East Grand Forks, Minnesota as the "Angel" because of her anonymous $15 million donation to assist the cities after a devastating flood occurred there in 1997. She was often seen at the local homeless shelter anonymously helping out at the meal line and talking to patrons. She was revealed as the source of the funds when reporters tracked down ownership of the jet she used to fly into the area to survey damage.

Upon her death in 2004, a bequest of more than $200 million was made to National Public Radio (NPR).[2]


Kroc died 2003 of brain cancer at Rancho Santa Fe, California. In a San Diego Union-Tribune article published upon Kroc's death, former San Diego Padre Tony Gwynn said:

Sadly, in her passing, people will really find out for the first time how much she meant to not only this community but to the world. She did things her way, not for recognition or other considerations but because it was the right thing to do.
It's a shame that most of us will only now find out the extent of what Joan did. She was a great owner, person and humanitarian. I remember when I declared bankruptcy in 1987. It was my darkest hour. And Joan was there to offer me words of encouragement and to address the team on my behalf.
She cared about the players and their families. Heck, she cared about everyone on the face of this earth. She loved to help people.


Her will included significant bequests for a number of organizations.

Posthumous Recognition

On August 25, 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver announced that Kroc would be one of 13 California Hall of Fame inductees in The California Museum's yearlong exhibit. The induction ceremony is on December 1, 2009 in Sacramento, California. Kroc is also featured in the Museum's "California Remarkable Women" exhibition, which was founded by Shriver in 2004.


  1. ^ City Journal
  2. ^ RICHARD PEREZ-PENA, Times Executive Resigns to Lead NPR, New York Times, Nov. 11, 2008

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