Trustee, donor Myra Kraft '64 dies at 68
Trustee Myra Kraft '64, a "prominent and generous" alumna who supported several initiatives and student scholarships at Brandeis, died of cancer at the age of 68 on July 20, according to a BrandeisNOW press release on July 20.
"I said this at the time and I believe it even more strongly today: with the passing of Myra Kraft, a great light has gone out in the world. She gave so much to so many, with her time, her caring and her tenacious advocacy," wrote University President Fredrick Lawrence in an August 22 email to the Justice.
Kraft became a University trustee in 1986 and served as vice chair of the Board of Trustees for 10 years. She also served on the presidential search committee that brought Lawrence to the University. Along with her husband Robert, who is a businessman and owner of the New England Patriots football team, Kraft supported University initiatives as a chair in Arab politics and the Alumni Annual Fund. The Krafts also hosted important Brandeis events at their home, including one for Lawrence and his wife the night before his inauguration on March 31.
In his email to the Justice, Lawrence wrote that Kraft, the daughter of Jacob Hiatt, who established the Hiatt Career Center, was a "true Brandeisian." "The daughter of one of the visionary early leaders of Brandeis, she was a distinguished graduate and a trustee for a quarter century, all of which gave her a deep understanding of the university as both an institution and a community. She connected with students, faculty and staff, and her fellow trustees on a very personal level and people felt that and responded to her," Lawrence wrote in his email.
Along with her commitments to Brandeis, Kraft was involved in wider philanthropic efforts through the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation, which supports "numerous institutions and organizations from small grass roots causes to major universities," according to the Kraft Group website. Kraft also served as president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports "charitable and philanthropic agencies throughout New England," according to its website.
Jonathan Davis '75, a Brandeis trustee who worked with Kraft both as fellow alumnus and on local philanthropist efforts, said in an interview with the Justice that they were "very close acquaintances and friends." He said that Kraft was a "unique" person with a "boundless sense of generosity" whose passing is a "huge loss for the community."
Senior Vice President of Institutional Advancement Nancy Winship, who knew Kraft for 20 years, said an interview with the Justice that she admired the way in which Kraft treated people. "It wouldn't matter what position you were in, whether you were an administrative assistant or you were a senior vice president, [Kraft] treated everyone as equals," Winship said.
"Her generous support of causes and organizations from Boston to Israel has been well documented, but she was not just a philanthropist, she was a humanitarian in both the personal sense and the community sense. This is a tremendous loss and we can only hope that the remarkable life that Myra lived will inspire all of us, in our own ways, to follow her legacy of giving and caring," Lawrence wrote in his email to the Justice.
Kraft is survived by her husband; her sons Jonathan, Daniel, Josh and David; her sister, Janice; and six grandchildren, according to the BrandeisNOW press release.