Samuel Mather

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Samuel Mather (1851 – 1931) was born in Cleveland, Ohio and for many years was that city's richest citizen and a major philanthropist, particularly favoring Kenyon College. In 1847 his father had founded the Cleveland Iron Mining Company, and Mather was destined to follow him in the management of this company. Following Mather's graduation from the St. Mark's School of Southborough, Massachusetts in 1869, he suffered a serious injury working in one of the company’s facilities. He spent the next two years in convalescence, and accordingly, never attended Harvard University as he had previously planned.


Following two years of travel and convalescence, Mather married Flora Stone in 1881; the couple's combined fortunes made them the richest family in Ohio. Two years later, Mather was a founding principal in the Pickands, Mather and Company. Pickands, Mather and Co. became one of the four major iron ore companies in the United States through the operation of extensive mines in the Lake Superior region. By providing ample access to iron ore, steel, and shipping, Mather became increasingly wealthy through the profits reaped by the company and through the inheritance left to him from his father.

Mather gave generously to educational and health institutions. His gifts included the installation of Anne's Tablet on Mackinac Island, Michigan. At Kenyon College, Mather was known for decades for his generous financial gifts and management of the college’s financial affairs. Mather was a trustee to Kenyon for forty-three years; before his death, Mather was the oldest living member of Kenyon's Board of Trustees.


According to Kenyon College, Mather donated over a half-million dollars to the school while he served as a trustee there. His largest single financial gift to the school was $100,000 in 1922 for the building of Leonard Hall. (He made this contribution anonymously.) The Samuel Mather Science Hall was built in Mather's name at the request of his business associate, Henry G. Dalton, who gave money to Kenyon for the construction of the building.

On October 17, 1931, Samuel Mather died of a heart attack. In his will, Mather left almost $3 million to various educational institutes and health establishments. He left $100,000 in his will for Kenyon College. Seven Great Lakes merchant ships have been named in his honor.