Watch CBS News

Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie, who supported healthcare and research causes, has died

Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie, who supported healthcare and research causes, dies at 79
Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie, who supported healthcare and research causes, dies at 79 02:45

CHICAGO (CBS) – Ann Lurie, the prolific philanthropist whose donations benefitted medical treatment and research in Chicago and around the world, has died at the age of 79 on Monday from complications from a recent illness.

Lurie was born and raised as the only child of a single mother in Florida, where she earned a nursing degree from the University of Florida. She moved to Chicago in 1973 where she worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse at the former Children's Memorial Hospital. She married Bob Lurie, a real estate developer, who died in 1990 from colon cancer. The two had six children together.

She ran the Anne and Robert H. Lurie Foundation, which supported several charitable causes in Chicago and around the world. Such donations included $100 million to build the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago, which opened in Streeterville in 2012 and serves more than 200,000 children each year. When her donation was announced in 2007, Lurie said she saw it as "making an investment in the future of Chicago's children."

"Her unwavering dedication and generous contributions to our organization touched countless lives and will continue to be a source of inspiration to us all, and her absence will be deeply felt," said Dr. Tom Shanley, Lurie Children's president and CEO, in a statement.

She's also served as a lifetime member of the Board of Trustees at Northwestern University, where she's also given more than $60 million over the years, the university said. Lurie invested in the Robert H. Lurie Cancer Center at Northwestern, where her husband had undergone treatment.

"Ann had a tremendous impact on Northwestern through her generosity, her leadership and her service," said Northwestern President Michael Schill in a statement. "As a trustee, she helped propel the University and our medical research to ever greater heights. She touched so many lives, both at Northwestern and well beyond. My deepest condolences to her family and to so many friends who loved her."

At Gilda's Club Chicago, which provides a community of social and emotional support to anyone impacted by cancer, Lurie's impact was felt by the tens of thousands they've helped over 27 years.

"We treat the whole family and she really understood the need for that more than anyone I've ever met," said LauraJane Hyde, of Gilda's Club.

Hyde said Gilda's Club, named after comedian Gilda Radner, "wouldn't exist were it not for Ann Lurie," and added, "Now we have lost an icon."

In a statement, Chicago Mayor Brandon Johnson said, "Ann's spirit of generosity and her selfless drive to make the world a better place will forever inspire the people of our city. I am extending my heartfelt condolences to her family and friends, as her legacy of kindness and compassion will be cherished and remembered always."

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.