Philanthropist, Kansas State supporter Donna Vanier dies

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Donna Vanier (Courtesy: K-State)

MANHATTAN, Kan. (KSNW) — A well-known philanthropist and supporter of Kansas State University and several Salina organizations has died.

The family of Donna Vanier said she died Saturday at the age of 85. The cause of death was not released.

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.

Vanier earned the Kansas State University Medal of Excellence, which recognizes those who provided exceptional service, leadership and philanthropic contributions to the university. She served on several boards and organizations at Kansas State and in Salina, where she led the creation of the Donna Vanier Children’s Center.

Vanier lived most of her adult life with her husband on the CK Ranch outside of Brookville.

K-State leaders offered their condolences to the Vanier family

University President Richard Myers:

“Donna Vanier exemplified what K-State family is all about. 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.

Amy Button Renz, president and chief executive officer of the K-State Alumni Association:

“Donna’s support of so many areas at K-State, including the Alumni Association and Alumni Center, was transformational. She and Jack provided the funding for the bronze Wildcat Statue at the K-State Alumni Center. This statue has quickly become a K-State icon and a visible reminder of the sense of family and support K-Staters have for one another. Her legacy of kindness and generosity will carry on and we are forever grateful to have had her as a member of our K-State family. I know the thoughts and prayers of the Wildcat community are with Jack and the entire Vanier family.”

Gene Taylor, director of K-State Athletics:

“We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of the all-time great K-Staters in Donna Vanier. 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.”

Greg Willems, president and chief executive officer of the KSU Foundation:

“Few individuals have been as influential to the K-State family as Donna Vanier. Along with her husband, Jack, and their children, John, Marty and Mary, Donna maintained a lifelong commitment to Kansas State University and our broader Kansas community. Donna thoughtfully and passionately supported K-State students, faculty and staff, and the breadth of that generosity can be seen and felt across our campuses and programs. Her outstanding service to her community and care for others will forever be an inspiration to the K-State family.”

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