William H. Danforth was chancellor of Washington University in St. Louis, overseeing its blossoming from a commuter campus into a national research institution, and helped found a plant science center to fight world hunger. Danforth died on Sept. 16 2020 at his home in Ladue, Mo. a suburb of St. Louis. He was 94. His son, David, said the cause was complications of a fall.
His three siblings were accomplished - John became a three-term United States senator from Missouri; Donald Jr. was a business executive who served as board chairman of the American Youth Foundation and helped build the Brain Injury Association of Missouri; and Dorothy Danforth Miller was a philanthropist.
Danforth was also a major philanthropist. As president of the Danforth Foundation, the family philanthropy founded in 1927, he funneled hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to thousands of recipients, many of them organizations in the St. Louis region.
William Henry Danforth II was born on April 10, 1926, in St. Louis. His mother, Dorothy (Claggett) Danforth, was a homemaker. His father was the chief executive of Ralston Purina. Bill’s grandfather, the industrialist William Henry Danforth, for whom Bill was named, had established an animal feed business in 1894 in St. Louis that was a forerunner of the company; it became a powerful economic engine in the region.
Danforth majored in biology at Princeton, graduating in 1947. While studying at Harvard Medical School, he met Elizabeth Gray, an economics major at Wellesley College who was also from St. Louis, and they married in 1950. He graduated from medical school in 1951 and served in the Navy during the Korean War, working as a doctor on destroyers.
In addition to his son, David, Dr. Danforth is survived by two daughters, Maebelle Danforth and Elizabeth Danforth; his brother John, the former senator; 13 grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. His wife died in 2005, and another daughter, Cynthia Danforth Prather, died in 2017. His brother Donald Jr. died in 2001, and his sister, Dorothy Danforth Miller, died in 2013.more » « less