Myra Kraft

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Myra Kraft
Born Myra Nathalie Hiatt

Myra Hiatt Kraft (née Myra Nathalie Hiatt; December 27, 1942 – July 20, 2011[1]) was an American philanthropist and the wife of New England Patriots and New England Revolution owner Robert Kraft.

Early life and education[edit]

Myra was born in Worcester, Massachusetts in 1942, the daughter of Frances and Jacob Hiatt. Her father was a Lithuanian Jewish immigrant who had served as a circuit judge of the Court of Lithuania before immigrating in 1935.[2][3][4] His parents and three other members of his family died during the Holocaust. He went on to become a well known philanthropist and leader in the Jewish community.[3] Jacob served as president of the E.F. Dodge Paper Box Corp. in Leominster, Massachusetts and remained president when it merged with 12 other box and printing companies to become the Rand-Whitney Corp.[3] Rand-Whitney was bought by his son-in-law, Robert Kraft, in 1972.

In 1960, Myra graduated from the private Bancroft School in Worcester,[5] and in 1964 she graduated from Brandeis University.

Philanthropy[edit]

Kraft was listed by Boston Magazine as one of the 20 Most Powerful Women in Boston,[6] She was president and director of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation and trustee of the Robert K. and Myra H. Kraft Foundation. She served on the boards of directors of the American Repertory Theatre, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, Northeastern University, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, and Brandeis University.[6] She and her husband donated millions of dollars to promote American football in Israel building the Kraft Stadium in Jerusalem[6] and founding the Israeli Football League. In addition, Myra Kraft helped to support and fund the Israeli Women’s National Flag Football Team.[4]

Myra and her husband started the "Passport to Israel" Program with the Combined Jewish Philanthropies of Boston which provided financial assistance to Jewish parents to send their children to Israel while teenagers to help promote Jewish identity.[4] To encourage greater understanding between Christians and Jews, Myra, her husband, and her father endowed two professorships in comparative religion at the College of the Holy Cross and Brandeis University: the Kraft-Hiatt Chair in Judaic Studies at Holy Cross and the Kraft-Hiatt Chair in Christian Studies at Brandeis University.[3]

The International Herald Tribune credited Myra Kraft with "modeling a new form of engaged giving that is transforming the relationship between philanthropist and philanthropy,"[7] and the Boston Globe stated she was "forging a whole new form of engaged giving."[7] The Krafts have donated more than $100 million to a wide range of charities mostly focusing on education, athletics, women’s issues, and Israel.[4]

New England Patriots[edit]

Myra was the president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, the team's non-profit entity created by the Kraft family to support charitable and philanthropic agencies throughout New England. Through her work with the Patriots Charitable Foundation, Myra became known as the matriarch of the franchise, providing leadership by her example of volunteerism and helping others in need.

Shortly after the 1996 NFL Draft, Myra learned that the Patriots' fifth-round choice, Christian Peter of Nebraska, had a lengthy history of violence against women. At Myra's insistence, the Patriots relinquished Peter's rights only a week after the draft.[8]

Personal life[edit]

Myra married Robert Kraft in June 1963 while she was a student at Brandeis.[9] They have four sons:

Myra was a member of Temple Emanuel in Newton, Massachusetts.[4]

Death[edit]

Myra Kraft died from cancer on July 20, 2011, aged 68.[10] Public services were held at Temple Emmanuel in Newton, Massachusetts.[2] In her memory, all Patriots players wore a patch on their uniforms bearing Kraft's initials (MHK) throughout the 2011–12 season.[11]

References[edit]