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Woman Gives $80M to Salvation Army

September 23, 1998

SAN DIEGO (AP) _ McDonald’s heiress Joan Kroc dropped $80 million today into The Salvation Army’s kettle, the largest single donation to the agency in its 118-year history.

The money will be used for a community center named after Mrs. Kroc and her late husband, Ray, who co-founded the fast-food hamburger chain.

Mrs. Kroc said she remembered how her husband used to dress up as Santa Claus during the holidays and ring the bell for Salvation Army donations on the downtown streets of San Diego.

``Right now, I bet there’s a lot of bell ringing going on with Ray leading the chorus,″ she said.

Major Donald C. Bell, division commander for The Salvation Army, said the agency was ``deeply moved and inspired by Mrs. Kroc’s generosity and caring.″

``Our vision for stronger families and revitalized neighborhoods will now become a reality for our community,″ he said.

The gift includes 12 acres of land for the community center in San Diego.

In February, Fortune magazine ranked Mrs. Kroc 36th among the nation’s top philanthropists, estimating her donations at $15 million to causes ranging from local theater to cancer research. Forbes magazine estimated her net worth in 1997 at $2.1 billion, making her the 68th richest person in the United States.

In March, Mrs. Kroc donated $25 million to the University of San Diego for a peace studies center.

She was dubbed the ``Angel of Grand Forks″ after she donated $15 million to flood victims in North Dakota last year. She made the donation anonymously but her identity was eventually uncovered.

Kroc died in 1984, leaving his wife his share of the hamburger chain and the San Diego Padres baseball team. She sold the team in 1990.

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