Ann Lurie, one of Chicago's most prolific philanthropists, dies at 79

ByABC7 Chicago Digital Team and John Garcia WLS logo
Monday, June 24, 2024
Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie dies at 79
Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie is survived by her husband, Mark Muheim, her six children and 16 grandchildren.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Chicago philanthropist Ann Lurie died on Monday at the age of 79.

She died due to complications from a recent illness, a family spokesperson said.

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Lurie was well-known not only in Chicago, but around the world for her work in health care.

She began her career with a nursing degree from the University of Florida before moving to Chicago in 1973, where she worked as a pediatric intensive care nurse at then-Children's Memorial Hospital. She later met her late husband, Robert H. Lurie, and they had six children together.

Lurie started a connection with Northwestern University when her late husband was undergoing cancer treatment.

Robert, a successful commercial real estate executive, died in 1990, leaving Lurie to raise their children and with several-hundred million dollars. Lurie donated more than $60 million to Northwestern over the years.

Lurie would go on to be one of Chicago's most prolific philanthropists, donating $100 million to help start the Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital.

In a statement, Lurie Children's said they "will forever be grateful to Ann for creating a legacy that allows us to provide the highest quality, most compassionate care for patients and families across Chicagoland and beyond. Ann's life inspires us all to embrace the power of her mantra to 'do a good deed daily.'"

Lurie also established two professorships in breast cancer research and oncology at Northwestern's Feinberg School of Medicine.

In 2021, Dr. Eric G. Neilson, vice president for Medical Affairs and Lewis Landsberg Dean at Feinberg, established the Ann Lurie Professorship in Oncology to honor her generosity.

Gilda's Club Chicago was one of Lurie's first and most important philanthropic efforts.

Started to support children and families of those with cancer, she began the club in River North 26 years ago, shortly after the death of her husband. He and the Saturday Night Live comedian Gilda Radner, alumni of the University of Michigan, both died of cancer.

"She started it. Gilda's Club Chicago, without her, we wouldn't be here," said Gilda's Club CEO Laura Jane Hyde.

Lurie recorded a promotional video for Gilda's Club in 2018.

"This was the birth of something I knew would go on to be important," she said.

Lurie also opened the Spay and Neuter clinic for PAWS Chicago. And the Greater Chicago Food Depository is another nonprofit that benefited from Lurie's philanthropy. In a statement, they said, "Ann was also eager to roll up her sleeves and volunteer, advocate, and do whatever necessary to ensure more Chicagoans had access to food and resources."

"She was very private about the work she did and was very focused on the area she wanted to support and just left an amazing legacy," Jane Hyde said.

Lurie leaves behind her husband of 10 years, Mark Muheim, her six children and numerous grandchildren.