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Donner, William Henry

American, 1864 - 1953

Philanthropist and businessman William H. Donner was born and raised in Indiana and attended Hanover College there in 1882-1883. He worked in steel mills and became interested in the manufacture of tin plate.In 1894 he became manager of the National Tin Plate Company in Anderson, Indiana. Donner went on to be president of the Union Steel Company (1899-1903) the Cambria Steel Company (1912-1916) and his own Donner Steel Company (1916-1929). Acquainted with fellow industrialists Andrew Mellon and Henry Frick, Donner served as a director of the Mellon National Bank of Pittsburgh and the Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company. After his retirement from business in the early 1930s, Mr. Donner devoted himself to his philanthropic activities, mostly directly toward research for the cure of cancer. In 1932 he gave two million dollars to establish the International Cancer Research Foundation; he also donated to radiology department of the University of Pennsylvania and in 1947 purchased a 64 room home in Palm Beach which he donated to the Institutuum Thomae of Cincinnati to be used as a laboratory for the study of cancer. In 1938 Mr. Donner relocated to Switzerland, following a dispute with the US federal government regarding income taxes. Donner married first in 1890 to Adella May Newson, with whom he had two children: Robert Newson Donner and Joseph William. In 1909 William married secondly, to the former Dora White Browning [d. 1952], which whom had three children, William Henry Donner, Jr. [d. 1929], Elizabeth Browning Donner, and Dora Browning Donner [later Mrs. John Jay Ide].
The New York Times, 4 November 1953 [obituary]
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