Catherine T. MacArthur

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Catherine MacArthur
Born Catherine T. Hyland
(1908-11-23)23 November 1908
Chicago, Illinois
Died 15 December 1981(1981-12-15) (aged 73)
Singer Island, Palm Beach Shores, Florida
Occupation Philanthropist
Known for John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Spouse(s) John D. MacArthur

Catherine T. MacArthur (November 23, 1908 - December 15, 1981) was the wife of U.S. businessman and philanthropist John D. MacArthur and was an active participant in his businesses and philanthropies. One of the ten largest philanthropic foundations in the United States, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, is named after the couple.


Born Catherine T. Hyland in 1908, she was one of five children of Irish immigrants on Chicago’s South Side.[1] Her father owned and operated several retail stores and was active in Democratic politics in Chicago, eventually holding several state and local governmental positions.[1] In 1928 she married John D. MacArthur. It was MacArthur’s second marriage and her first.[citation needed] In 1935, John D. MacArthur purchased Bankers Life and Casualty for $2,500, and used mass marketing techniques to sell insurance through the mail. Catherine created the business procedures for Bankers Life which would be used until tremendous growth finally made them obsolete.[1]

Banker's Life was the basis for John's phenomenal business success in real estate and insurance. Both the foundation and Banker’s Life official press releases state that Catherine was very involved in the success of the businesses and she appears throughout the records of MacArthur’s companies under her maiden name, C.T. Hyland, as corporate secretary or director, sometimes both.[2]

Despite their vast wealth, the MacArthur’s were known for their frugality.[citation needed] In 1963, when he was already one of the wealthiest men in the United States,[citation needed] John MacArthur purchased the Colonnades Hotel in Palm Beach Shores on Singer Island, Florida. Catherine lived with her husband in a modest apartment overlooking the parking lot, while John conducted his business from a back booth in the hotel coffee shop.[3]

When John D. MacArthur died on January 6, 1978, he was worth in excess of $1 billion and was reportedly one of the three richest men in the United States.[1] MacArthur left ninety-two percent of his estate to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.[citation needed] The foundation’s first board of directors, by John D. MacArthur’s will, included Catherine T. MacArthur, J. Roderick MacArthur (a son from John D. MacArthur’s first marriage), three officers of Bankers Life and Casualty, and radio commentator Paul Harvey.[citation needed]


Catherine T. MacArthur died December 15, 1981 in her Colonnades Hotel apartment.[citation needed]


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