Noted entrepreneur and philanthropist Zanvyl Krieger, a devoted friend and benefactor of The Johns Hopkins University whose name is enduringly connected with several Hopkins institutions, died Sept. 15 at his Baltimore home. He was 94.
Krieger was a lifelong Baltimorean with committed civic ties. Perhaps his greatest single gift was the $50 million challenge grant, made in 1992, to the School of Arts and Sciences to add $100 million to its endowment. At the time it was made, his gift was believed to be the largest ever directed exclusively to a U.S. school or college of arts and sciences.
"I just thought there ought to be other people involved," said Krieger at the time, explaining his decision to construct the gift as a challenge. "I didn't think it ought to be a one-man job."
In acknowledging the gift, then President William C. Richardson said, "The School of Arts and Sciences is, quite simply, that part of Johns Hopkins that makes us a university, that brings us all together as something more than a grouping of superb graduate and professional schools. The disciplines it teaches are the foundations of all the others. Without physics and chemistry, there is no engineering. Without biology, you don't have medicine. You can't engage in advanced international studies without history and political science. Without the social and behavioral sciences, you don't have public health or nursing."
Part of the Krieger Fund gift is being used to create 10 endowed chairs called the Zanvyl Krieger/Milton S. Eisenhower Distinguished Professorships, in honor of Krieger's close friendship with Eisenhower, the university's eighth president.
To pay fitting tribute, in 1995 Hopkins renamed its core institution the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences.
Also among Krieger's beneficiaries are the Krieger Mind/Brain Institute; the Krieger Children's Eye Center at the Wilmer Eye Institute; and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, a world-renowned clinic for children with disabilities.
In 1996 the Maryland Chapter of the National Society of Fund Raising Executives named Krieger philanthropist of the year. The society estimated at the time that he had given charitable contributions totaling more than $100 million, mostly through the Zanvyl and Isabelle Krieger Fund.
"Zan Krieger was a Johns Hopkins for our time, a hard-working, very successful man with a vision for what philanthropy can accomplish," said William R. Brody, university president. "It will never be possible to calculate all the good he has done for Baltimore, but we are a far better city because of him. Zan was also a genuinely warm and human man, a delight to be with and a friend and adviser to Hopkins presidents back to Milton S. Eisenhower. We all will miss him."
Richard E. McCarty, James B. Knapp Dean of the Zanvyl Krieger School of Arts and Sciences, said Krieger's "magnificent generosity" has only multiplied in value and significance over time.
"We are blessed and grateful that we had the opportunity to express our indebtedness to him during his lifetime," McCarty said. "We and all who follow us in the Krieger School will always take pride in our association with an institution that bears Zan Krieger's name."
Krieger was born in 1906, the last of Herman and Bettie Farber Krieger's eight children. After completing high school at Baltimore City College, Krieger enrolled at Johns Hopkins, from which he received a degree in political science in 1928. He went on to study at Harvard Law School, graduating in 1931. He served as assistant attorney general of Maryland and later joined the Baltimore law firm of Weinberg & Green.
The Krieger family owned the brewery that made Gunther beer and also distilled rye whiskey, a very popular drink at the time. Using income from those interests and other concerns, Krieger made his start in real estate development.
A devout sports enthusiast, Krieger played a pivotal role in attracting both the Orioles and the Colts to Baltimore and was an owner of both franchises. He remained active with the Orioles until the team was sold to Edward Bennett Williams in 1979. Milton S. Eisenhower, who served as president of Hopkins from 1956 to 1967 and again in 1971-72, was a frequent companion in Krieger's box at Memorial Stadium, where the Orioles then played.
The primary source of his fortune was germinated in 1964 when he became the key investor in a start-up company called U.S. Surgical, which owned the rights to the surgical staple, a method for closing surgical incisions without cloth fiber stitches. It also pioneered the field of laparoscopic surgery.
In 1992, Krieger was awarded an honorary doctorate of humane letters by the university.