March 12, 2009
Leonore Annenberg (Courtesy Annenberg Family Photo Archive)

Leonore Annenberg (Courtesy Annenberg Family Photo Archive)

Remembering Leonore Annenberg

Leonore Annenberg — philanthropist, widow of billionaire publisher and broadcaster Walter H. Annenberg and a founding partner of the Newseum — died March 12, 2009, in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 91.

Both Leonore and Walter Annenberg had distinguished careers in public service. He served as ambassador to Great Britain for five years, and she was chief of protocol for the White House under President Ronald Reagan.

For the past seven years, Leonore Annenberg was president and chairman of the Annenberg Foundation, which was established in 1989 to advance the public well-being through improved communication. As a principal means of achieving its goal, the foundation encourages the development of more effective ways to share ideas and knowledge. The private foundation succeeded the Annenberg School at Radnor, Pa., which was founded in 1958 by Walter, who died in 2002.

For 26 years, Leonore Annenberg served on the Committee for the Preservation of the White House and was a tireless patron of the arts.

In 2007, the Annenberg Foundation donated $15 million to the Newseum, which named its 535-seat theater the Walter and Leonore Annenberg Theater.

"My husband, Walter, dedicated his life as a publisher, broadcaster, diplomat and philanthropist to communication, education and public service," Annenberg said of the donation. "The Newseum will provide an exciting new venue for visitors of all ages to learn about the rich history of the communication world and the importance of a free press in all societies."

Shelby Coffey, a Newseum trustee and Freedom Forum senior fellow, called Annenberg "a great lady and a great supporter of the Newseum."

According to Coffey, she called directly from California to express her support for the interactive museum, which opened in the nation’s capital in April 2008.

"She said [the Newseum] was just the sort of place the ambassador would have loved," Coffey said. "She was one of a kind and will be greatly missed."

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