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 (1928–1978; his death)

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


Born Catherine T. Hyland in 1908, MacArthur was one of five children of Irish immigrants on Chicago’s South Side.[1] Her father owned and operated several retail stores, was active in Democratic politics in Chicago, and held 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, MacArthur purchased Bankers Life and Casualty for $2,500 and used mass marketing techniques to sell insurance by mail. Catherine created the business procedures for Bankers Life which were used until the company's tremendous growth made them obsolete.[1]

Banker's Life was the basis of John's phenomenal success in real estate and insurance. Official Banker’s Life press releases verify that Catherine was intimately involved in the business's success. She appears throughout the records under her maiden name, C.T. Hyland, as corporate secretary, director, or both.[2]

Despite their vast wealth, the MacArthurs were known for their frugality.[citation needed] In 1963, when John was already one of the wealthiest men in the United States,[citation needed] he 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's coffee shop.[3]

When John D. MacArthur died on January 6, 1978, he was worth over $1 billion and reportedly one of the three wealthiest men in the United States.[1] He left ninety-two percent of his estate to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.[citation needed] His will stipulated that the foundation’s first board of directors include Catherine, J. Roderick MacArthur (a son from MacArthur’s first marriage), three officers of Bankers Life and Casualty, and radio commentator Paul Harvey.[citation needed] For the remainder of her life, Catherine was a key figure in the Foundation's operations.


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


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