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Myra Kraft, Wife Of Patriots Owner, Dies After Battle With Cancer

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Robert and Myra Kraft (Courtesy of the New England Patriots/Jenny Nourse photo)

Robert and Myra Kraft (Courtesy of the New England Patriots/Jenny Nourse photo)

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FOXBORO (CBS/AP) – Myra Kraft, the wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft, has died after a battle with cancer.

She was 68 years old.

The Patriots made the announcement in a statement Wednesday morning:

“Words cannot express the deep sorrow that we feel in learning of the passing of Myra Hiatt Kraft. Myra passed away early this morning after a courageous battle with cancer. We are all heartbroken. The global philanthropic community and the New England Patriots family have suffered a great loss.”

The Krafts were married for 48 years.

WBZ-TV’s Bill Shields reports from Gillette Stadium:

LIFE OF CHARITY

Myra Kraft held key positions in numerous charitable and community organizations.

She managed the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation and was president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, which contributed millions of dollars to charities in the United States and Israel.

In 1995, she became the first woman to chair the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, a position she held until 2002.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Jim Smith spoke to fans at the Patriots Pro Shop:

She married Robert Kraft in June 1963 while she was a student at Brandeis University.

Myra Kraft was the daughter of Jacob Hiatt, who grew up in Lithuania and moved to the United States in 1935. He settled in Worcester, where she was born.

Hiatt became president of the E.F. Dodge Paper Box Corp. in Leominster in 1938 and stayed on when it was bought by Whitney Box.

The company is now known as the Rand-Whitney Group which Robert Kraft bought in 1972.

He now serves as its chairman and chief executive officer.

WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Karen Twomey reports.

Myra Kraft also served as chairwoman of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and was on the board of directors of the American Repertory Theatre, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, and Brandeis.

FAMILY’S LEGACY

The Krafts have four sons, Jonathan, Daniel, Joshua and David.

Jonathan is president of the Patriots. Daniel is president and CEO of International Forest Products, founded in 1972 by his father.

Joshua is president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.

REACTIONS

Patriots nose tackle Vince Wilfork called Mrs. Kraft a “wonderful woman” in a Twitter post after the announcement.

Read: Past And Present Patriots React

Brandeis president Frederick Lawrence released this statement:

“Myra was a true Brandeisian. She was the daughter of one of the visionary early leaders of Brandeis, a distinguished graduate and a trustee who had a deep sense of the university as a community. She was always reaching out to students, faculty and other trustees and served as a model to all of us in so many ways. Myra was not just a philanthropist, she was a humanitarian in both a personal sense and a community sense. She will be missed by countless friends and by all those who benefited from her tireless work and wisdom.” 

From Barry Shrage of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies:

“She was more than an amazing volunteer leader – Myra was also a beloved friend, and we will miss her dearly. Her personal acts of loving kindness were an essential part of who she was as a person. No one in need was ever turned away.

Most importantly, Myra was a loving wife to Robert, who adored her and she was a loving, proud and devoted mother and grandmother to Jonathan, Dan, Josh, and David and their children.

Our hearts are with the Kraft family and all those who loved her.”

A public service for Myra Kraft will be held on Friday at 10 a.m. at Temple Emmanuel in Newton.

In lieu of flowers, the Kraft family has asked that donations be made in her name to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Scholarship Fund at the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston.

Myra Kraft Giving Back Scholarship Fund

50 Congress Street

Suite 730

Boston, MA 02109

If you would like to leave your condolences to the Kraft family, please leave a message in the comments section below.

(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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