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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

ND chair emeritus Donald R. Keough dies at 88

Donald R. Keough, chair emeritus of the University’s Board of Trustees and one of the most generous benefactors in Notre Dame history, died Tuesday morning at the age of 88 in Atlanta, according to a University press release.

Keough, former president and Chief Operating Officer of the Coca-Cola Company as well as chair of Allen & Company, served on the University’s Board of Trustees since 1978 and as its chair from 1986 to 1991. The donations of Keough and his wife Marilyn, totaling more than $50 million, helped fund a host of programs, buildings and professorships at the University, including the Keough School of Global Affairs (to open in 2017), the Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies, three library collections and the men’s dorm Keough Hall.

“Don’s decades of dedicated service helped secure Notre Dame’s reputation as one of the world’s great institutions of higher education,” Richard Notebaert, chair of the University’s Board of Trustees, said in the press release. "Don loved his family, he loved Notre Dame, and he inspired all of us who had the privilege to know him.”

Professor Christopher Fox, director of the Keough-Naughton Institute, described a "hole that will not — and cannot — be filled" created by the death of Keough.

"I am still stunned by Don's death," Fox said in an email Tuesday. "He was a great friend and mentor to me, to the Institute that bears his name and to those of us who who were blessed enough to come into contact with him at Notre Dame."

In addition to serving on the University’s Board, Keough received the Laetare Medal — the University’s highest award, given to prominent American Catholics — in 1993. Both he and his wife received honorary doctorates from the University, he in 1985 and she in 1998.

“Don Keough was a celebrated business leader, a transformative philanthropist, a devout Catholic, a devoted husband and father and a friend to so many who today mourn his passing,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the release. “Don’s visionary leadership and generosity has had a profound impact on the University.

“He believed that we were put on earth to do good in the world, and his life tangibly demonstrated that faith. He has been a dear friend and cherished mentor whom I will miss terribly.”