|Born||Joan Beverly Mansfield
August 27, 1928
West St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
|Died||October 12, 2003
Rancho Santa Fe, California, U.S.
Cause of death
|El Camino Memorial Park
San Diego, California, U.S.
|Religion||Salvation Army Church|
|Spouse(s)||Rawland F. Smith (m. 1945–1969, divorced)
Ray Kroc (m. 1969–1984, his death)
|Children||Linda Smith (b. 1946)|
|Parents||Charles Mansfield (father)
Gladys Mansfield (mother)
Kroc was born on August 27, 1928 in West St. Paul, Minnesota. Her father, Charles Smart Mansfield, was a store keeper, later a railroad telegraph operator and salesman. Her mother, Gladys Bonnebelle Mansfield was born April 5, 1906 in Luck, Wisconsin to Herman Conrad Peterson and his wife Emma Bonnebelle. Joan's mother was an accomplished violinist. She studied music at the MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis and started teaching at age 15.
Marriage and family
Joan met McDonald's Corp. founder Ray Kroc while playing piano at a bar in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1957. 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 married in 1969. Following Kroc's death in 1984, she acquired his fortune.
She tried to donate the team to the city of San Diego (the San Diego Padres went on to win its first ever National League pennant that year), 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 when he was refused a raise by her team's general manager.
Her one million dollar donation to Jesse Jackson's presidential campaign was considered by many to be a betrayal of her husband's wishes.
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 (26,000 m2)), 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. She later bequeathed an additional $1.6 billion to open Salvation Army Kroc Centers across the nation, the largest one-time gift ever recorded. 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. Kroc preferred to give donations anonymously, but recipient organizations often insisted on publicizing her gifts, hoping to attract new donors.
She also supported the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities and Ronald McDonald Houses.
As the Padres owner, she started Major League Baseball's first employee-assistance program for players and staff with drug problems.
Kroc was also politically active. In 1985, she spent millions of dollars in support of nuclear disarmament, which included reprinting the book Missile Envy by Helen Caldicott, as well as publishing ads in major newspapers calling for disarmament. In response, Cal Thomas, a conservative syndicated columnist, called her a "McNut."
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 revealed as the source of the funds after reporters tracked down ownership of the jet that she used to fly into the area to survey the damage.
Joan Kroc was nominated and inducted into the San Diego County Women's Hall of Fame in 2004 hosted by the Women's Museum of California, Commission on the Status of Women, University of California, San Diego Women's Center, and San Diego State University Women's Studies.
Kroc died of brain cancer on October 12, 2003 at Rancho Santa Fe, California, at the age of 75. 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.
Her will included significant bequests for a number of organizations.
- $1.6 billion for the Salvation Army
- $225 million for National Public Radio
- $50 million for the University of San Diego's Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice
- $50 million for the University of Notre Dame's Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies
- $20 million for the San Diego Hospice & Palliative Care (doing business as "San Diego Hospice and The Institute for Palliative Medicine")
- $10 million for the Zoological Society of San Diego, which runs the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- $5 million for San Diego's KPBS public radio and television stations
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 was 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.
- John A. Drobnicki, "Kroc, Joan B.," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Vol. VII: 2003-2005 (Scribner's, 2007), p. 316.
- City Journal
- John A. Drobnicki, "Kroc, Joan B.," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Vol. VII: 2003-2005 (Scribner's, 2007), p. 317.
- "Joan B. Kroc, North Dakota's "angel," dies at 75". Associated Press. October 12, 2003. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
- Mike Janssen (May 24, 2004). "Kroc gift lets NPR expand news, lower fees". Current. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
- "NPR Receives a Record Bequest of More Than $200 Million". NPR. November 6, 2003. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
- Tony Perry (January 31, 2004). "Philanthropy That Was Deeply Personal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 6, 2011.
- Joan Kroc at Find a Grave
- San Diego Union-Tribune obituary
- Joan B. Kroc Institute for Peace and Justice - University of San Diego
- The Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame
- "Married Rich", San Diego Reader May 31, 2001 by Matt Potter