Billionaire philanthropist Leonore Annenberg dies at 91

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Leonore Annenberg

Billionaire philanthropist and former Chief of Protocol of the United States Leonore Annenberg, widow of the late publishing magnate Walter Annenberg, died Thursday, at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, California. She was 91 and had been in declining health at the time of her death. An Annenberg family spokesperson issued a statement confirming Mrs. Annenberg's death, and giving the cause of death as natural.

Annenberg served as Chief of Protocol from 1981 to 1982 under President Ronald Reagan. Once out of the public eye, the Annenbergs began donating large sums of their fortune to arts, cultural, medical, and educational facilities through the Annenberg Foundation, established in 1989.

Former President George H. W. Bush and Barbara Bush issued a statement in which they referred to Mr. and Mrs. Annenberg as having "exemplified service to others and were two of God's very special people." Former First Lady Nancy Reagan called Mrs. Annenberg "a dear and longtime friend" and praised the couple's "unparalleled" philanthropy that "left an indelible print on education in the United States."

Plans for a memorial service are underway.