Joan Kroc

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Joan Kroc
Born Joan Beverly Mansfield
(1928-08-27)August 27, 1928
West St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.
Died October 12, 2003(2003-10-12) (aged 75)
Cause of death Brain tumor
Resting place El Camino Memorial Park
Sorrento Valley, San Diego, California
Nationality American
Political party Democratic[1]
Spouse(s) Rawland F. Smith (m. 1945–1969; divorced)
Ray Kroc (m. 1969–1984; his death)
Children Linda Smith (b. 1946)
Parent(s) Charles Mansfield (father)
Gladys Mansfield (mother)

Joan Beverly Kroc (née Mansfield, previously Smith; August 27, 1928 – October 12, 2003), also known as Joni,[2] was an American philanthropist. The third wife of McDonald's CEO Ray Kroc, she was also known for her involvement in the McDonald's organization.

Early life[edit]

Joan was born on August 27, 1928, in West St. Paul, Minnesota. Her father, Charles Smart Mansfield,[3] was a store keeper and later a railroad telegraph operator and salesman.[4] 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, an accomplished violinist, studied music at the MacPhail School of Music in Minneapolis and started teaching at age 15.

Marriage and family[edit]

In 1945, she married Rawland F. "Rollie" Smith,[5][6][7] a Navy veteran who would become a McDonald's franchisee, eventually owning three stores in Rapid City, South Dakota. The couple's only child, a daughter named Linda, was born the following year.[8] She had four granddaughters, Allison, Amanda, Amy and Holly.

Joan met McDonald's Corp. founder Ray Kroc while playing organ at the Criterion Restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1957.[9][10][11][12][13][14][15] Kroc said in his autobiography that he "was stunned by her blonde beauty". However, they were both married. They met again at a McDonald's conference in 1969. Within six months they had divorced their spouses and married each other. Following Kroc's death in 1984, she inherited his fortune.[16]


External video
Ray and Joan, 57:59, Lisa Napoli discusses her book on C-SPAN[17]

Joan's first philanthropic endeavor was Operation Cork in 1976 in La Jolla, California. It aimed to inform doctors and other health workers about the dangers of alcoholism.

Ray and Joan Kroc owned the San Diego Padres professional baseball club. After Ray's death in 1984, 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. Joan 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.

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.[18] Kroc preferred to give donations anonymously, but recipient organizations often insisted on publicizing her gifts, hoping to attract new donors.[19]

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.[20]

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."[19]

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.[21]

Upon her death in 2003, a bequest of $225 million was made to National Public Radio (NPR)[22][23] including $5 million to her local public radio station, San Diego's KPBS.


Joan Kroc was 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.


Joan died of brain cancer on October 12, 2003, at Rancho Santa Fe, California, at the age of 75. She was buried at the El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley, San Diego.[24]


Her will included significant bequests for a number of organizations.

Posthumous recognition[edit]

On August 25, 2009, California Governor Arnold 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.

In popular culture[edit]

Kroc is portrayed by actress Linda Cardellini in the 2016 American biographical drama film The Founder.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Anderson, Robert; Kroc, Ray (1987). Grinding it out : the making of McDonald's (St. Martin's pbk. ed.). [New York]: St. Martin's Paperbacks. ISBN 0312929870. Retrieved 3 January 2017. 
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^ Napoli, Lisa (2016). Ray and Joan: The Man Who Made the McDonald's Fortune and the Woman Who Gave It All Away. Penguin. p. 368. ISBN 9781101984956. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ | The Founder (2017)
  8. ^ John A. Drobnicki, "Kroc, Joan B.," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Vol. VII: 2003-2005 (Scribner's, 2007), p. 316.
  9. ^
  10. ^
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  16. ^
  17. ^ "Ray and Joan". C-SPAN. November 20, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2017. 
  18. ^ City Journal
  19. ^ a b John A. Drobnicki, "Kroc, Joan B.," in The Scribner Encyclopedia of American Lives, Vol. VII: 2003-2005 (Scribner's, 2007), p. 317.
  20. ^ Cohen, Hannah S.; Harris, Gloria G. (2016). Remarkable Women of San Diego: Pioneers, Visionaries and Innovators. Arcadia Publishing. p. 84. ISBN 9781625857262. 
  21. ^ "Joan B. Kroc, North Dakota's "angel," dies at 75". Associated Press. October 12, 2003. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
  22. ^ Mike Janssen (May 24, 2004). "Kroc gift lets NPR expand news, lower fees". Current. Archived from the original on March 22, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
  23. ^ "NPR Receives a Record Bequest of More Than $200 Million". NPR. November 6, 2003. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 
  24. ^ Joan Beverly Mansfield Kroc at Find a Grave
  25. ^ Tony Perry (January 31, 2004). "Philanthropy That Was Deeply Personal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved April 6, 2011. 

External links[edit]