Heritage is saddened to learn of the passing of Kathryn W. Davis at age 106. She and her husband, Shelby Cullom Davis, were the founders of Heritage’s Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies.
“Kathryn was an adventurer and a scholar, and The Heritage Foundation owes a lot to her and her late husband for our success in foreign and defense studies,” said Heritage Founder Edwin J. Feulner. “We couldn’t do our job without them.”
Kathryn W. Davis, a Wellesley graduate, pursued her master’s degree in international relations alongside her husband at Columbia. They married before heading to Switzerland to pursue PhDs together. She raised two children and became an author, lecturer, community leader, philanthropist, and leading international artist. She received many awards, including the Woodrow Wilson Award for Distinguished Service, and was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
Her daughter, Diana Davis Spencer, carries on her parents’ philanthropic legacy. She writes upon announcing her mother’s passing:
Nothing made her happier than utilizing her time, talent, and treasure to engage young minds in an effort to promote world peace. In fact, on her 100th birthday, she issued a challenge—backed by $1 million—to seek creative initiatives from young people worldwide as to how to achieve that goal. “I want to use my 100th birthday to help young people launch some immediate initiatives…that will bring new thinking to the prospects of peace in the world,” she said.
As a philanthropist, my mother gave generously to education, the environment, the arts, and medical research and enthusiastically promoted entrepreneurship in an effort to make the world a better place.
In accepting the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service in 2007, she told a roomful of VIPs in Washington, D.C., “My many years have taught me that there will always be conflict. It’s part of human nature. But I’ll remind you that love, kindness, and support are also part of human nature.” It was consistently my mother’s greatest desire to promote the best in people, work on behalf of the least of us and as she stated, “…take advantage of today to be as useful as possible.”