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Dr. William H. Danforth - physician, educator, innovator and grandson of Purina's founder - dies at the age of 94

Statement from Joe Sivewright

CEO, Nestle’ Purina PetCare Co.


Dr. William H. Danforth’s impact on the St. Louis community was unmatched. His support of education and research has enhanced our region and provided learning opportunities for generations of young people from all across the world.


From his grandfather and namesake, the founder of Ralston Purina Company, Dr. Danforth learned the values of generosity, selflessness and empathy for his fellow man. Public service and humbly caring for those less fortunate was the expectation, and Dr. Danforth lived an exemplary life devoted to those pursuits.


While his father, Donald, made his mark in the family business at Purina, Dr. Danforth chose to follow his own paths – first in medicine, and later in education. But the principles and ideals spelled out by his grandfather guided him throughout his journey: continuously striving for self-improvement; developing a strong personal character, built on deep faith; and always sharing your gifts with others.


Dr. Danforth’s soft-spoken leadership and quiet strength guided Washington University for 24 years, a period which saw the school transformed into one of the top universities in the nation. In his later years, Dr. Danforth continued his grandfather’s commitment to nutrition for optimal health for people through his dedication to agricultural research and the Danforth Plant Science Center.


He was a man who truly never stopped learning, always looking for the next mountain to climb. And he always made time to visit Checkerboard Square and share memories of his grandfather and the early days of our company with our associates.


Dr. Danforth lived his life as his grandfather dared us all to: “Never give up until you have released your unused capacities for service and shared your gifts with others.” His legacy will echo throughout the St. Louis community for many, many years to come. On behalf of the more than 8,000 Nestlé Purina associates in the U.S., we offer our heartfelt condolences to the Danforth family on the passing of a civic leader, humble servant and warm family patriarch.