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Longtime K-State philanthropist, Donna Vanier, dies at 85

Donna Vanier.jpg
Posted at 10:22 AM, May 25, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-25 11:22:26-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — One of Kansas State University's most generous benefactors, Donna L. Vanier, died Saturday at the age of 85.

Vanier — who was born in Salina, Kansas, on Oct. 24, 1934 — and her husband, Jack, donated $60 million to K-State, including $20 for the athletic department and $40 million for the school's academic mission, in 2014.

She was a philanthropist in several Kansas communities in addition to being one of Kansas State's biggest supporters.

She created the Donna L. Vanier Children's Center in 2012 to provide health care for kids in her hometown and served on many community-service boards in the Salina area.

Vanier also served on the KSU Foundation Board of Directors and several other boards for the school. She earned the Kansas State University Medal of Excellence for her service and leadership.

"Donna Vanier exemplified what K-State family is all about," K-State President Richard Myers said in a statement from the university. "She personified our values and set an example of leadership and graciousness that extended to all whose lives she touched. She will be missed, but her legacy of service and kindness to others will be remembered. Donna will live on in our collective memory as a great friend to her state and university."

Vanier is survived by her husband, Jack, two daughters, four stepchildren and several grandchildren. She was preceded in death by her parents and her brother, Douglas.

Funeral services will be planned when COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.

Memorial gifts are suggested to be made to the St. Francis Ministries of Salina, the KSU Foundation, the Christ Cathedral Endowment Fund in Salina, the Meadowlark Hills Good Samaritan Fund in Manhattan or St. Paul's Episcopal Church of Manhattan.

"We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the all-time great K-Staters in Donna Vanier," Wildcats Athletic Director Gene Taylor said. "Words cannot begin to explain the impact the Vanier family has had on the entire Kansas State community, and Donna's caring personality and love for the Wildcats will forever be remembered. Our thoughts and prayers are with Jack, Mary, Marty, John and the entire Vanier family during this emotional time."