Skip to content
Man smiling at camera

The Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s Health mourns the passing of Lorry I. Lokey, who generously supported innovations in children’s health. Lokey passed away this week at age 95.

“Lorry was a visionary philanthropist who invested in novel ideas and the scientists who bring them to life,” said Lloyd Minor, MD, dean of the Stanford School of Medicine. “His legacy will live on in the advances he has helped make possible.”

Lokey was motivated by the promise of innovative therapies to deliver cures for deadly diseases like pediatric cancer. His gifts to the Foundation included support for groundbreaking research being led by the Center for Definitive and Curative Medicine (CDCM), a Stanford initiative that is harnessing the power of cell and gene therapies to treat incurable diseases.

“Lorry wanted to do all he could to save children’s lives,” said Cynthia Brandt, PhD, president and CEO of the Foundation. “Whenever we met, the first thing he’d ask was, ‘How many lives are we saving?’ Lorry was committed to advancing the science, but what he really cared about was its impact on kids.”

Lokey was inspired by Maria Grazia Roncarolo, MD, the founding director of the CDCM, and her vision to pioneer unprecedented cures. He supported the research of faculty like Agnieszka Czechowicz, MD, PhD, including her clinical trial for a new therapy for Fanconi anemia, a rare and serious disease affecting the bone marrow.

Lokey also funded the work of Alice Bertaina, MD, PhD, who is developing a revolutionary stem cell therapy that makes it easier for patients to find a donor match and has the potential to vastly improve long-term safety. Lokey’s support helped Bertaina launch a clinical trial to test the safety of her discoveries.

“Countless children and families will benefit from Lorry’s generosity,” Bertaina said. “Lorry’s legacy is an example of how philanthropy can transform lives.”

A Stanford alum, Lokey made significant gifts to his alma mater. In October 2008, he made a gift to the Stanford School of Medicine to fund the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building, which houses leading-edge lab space for a variety of disciplines, including cancer, stem cell, and neuroscience research. A journalism major and editor of The Stanford Daily during his time as a student, Lokey also supported construction of a new building for the publication, which also bears his name.

Lokey founded Business Wire in 1961, growing the enterprise from a single San Francisco office to a global communications leader. After selling Business Wire, Lokey signed the Giving Pledge in 2010, promising to donate the majority of his wealth to charitable causes.

When signing the Pledge, Lokey wrote that growing up during the Great Depression taught him the value of money. But his parents’ commitment to philanthropy had an even more profound impact on his worldview: Even during their most challenging times, they never stopped giving back. Lokey embraced that mindset. He wrote that he preferred to live below his means and instead use his wealth to make “transformational” gifts to institutions he cared about.

“What a good feeling this gives me,” Lokey wrote. “I would have it this way any day before wanting a jet plane or yacht.”