Stanford philanthropist and former Stanford Daily Editor-in-Chief Lorry I. Lokey ’49 passed away on Oct. 1 at age 95 in Atherton, Calif.
Born in Portland, Ore. on March 27, 1927, Lokey grew up during the Great Depression. Reflecting on his childhood, Lokey wrote that the period “taught the value of money” and how to maximize the value of purchases. He also wrote that his parents’ constant charity even in times of financial hardship instilled in him a lifelong dedication to philanthropy.
“During even the Depression’s worst years my parents gave money—about 8% of their annual income of $2200,” Lokey wrote. “I remember saying to my mother that we can’t afford that. But she said we have to share with others. I learned from that to share.”
Lokey attended Stanford in the late 1940s and graduated in 1949 with a degree in communication. After graduation, he went to work as a night wire editor in Portland.
In 1961, he founded the renowned press-release agency Business Wire — a leading distributor of press releases and a trusted source for news organizations, investors, business leaders and policymakers.
Lokey used the billions he accumulated during his career to invest over $100 million into his alma mater, Stanford. He invested in equipment for journalism and science, as well as internship and fellowship opportunities in both fields and infrastructure for the programs.
“His gifts were really quite considerable,” said former Dean of Humanities and Sciences Richard Saller. “His heart was always in the right place, and he must have been one of the biggest donors of his time.”
On campus, his name appears on the buildings that he funded: the Lorry I. Lokey Stanford Daily Building, built in 2009, and the Lorry I. Lokey Stem Cell Research Building. The latter, built in 2010, ranks as the largest stem cell research building in the nation. The former provided The Daily with a new home after the demolition of its longtime residence, the Storke Publications Building.
“Anyone who’s ever worked at The Stanford Daily — and many of us who went into the world of journalism — are eternally grateful to Lokey for his dedication to The Daily, his donation to the Daily building and critical donations to the survival of good college journalism,” said Center for International Security and Cooperation lecturer Philip Taubman ’70, who served as editor-in-chief of The Daily in 1969 and had a three-decade journalistic career with The New York Times.
Director of the Stanford Journalism Program James T. Hamilton added that much of the equipment in the journalism lab comes courtesy of Lokey’s donations. Lokey’s donations also helped fund the Harry Press Journalism Award Fund that provides internship opportunities to young Stanford journalists. Hamilton credited Lokey with helping “develop the next generation of accountability reporters.”
Saller remembered Lokey as a dedicated member of the Advisory Council to the School of Humanities. Lokey “occasionally would show up with a guest who hadn’t been planned for,” according to Saller. But this made Saller fond of him, as did their first meeting.
“Burned into my memory is the first time I as Dean hosted a public lecture,” Saller said. “Lokey was in the first row, and I thanked him and addressed him as Low-key. He shouted and corrected me that it’s Low-kay.”
Taubman shared that Lokey also regularly attended the annual Stanford Daily alumni dinners, which is where the two met. According to Taubman, Lokey never had an ego despite his billionaire status and instead dedicated his life to “causes that he thought were worthy.” Communication professor emeritus Theodore Glasser echoed this observation.
“No one in recent memory comes close to Lokey’s generosity in supporting journalism on campus,” Glasser said. “Humble and modest about his own accomplishments, Lorry Lokey never forgot his ties to Stanford, especially the time he spent at The Daily.”
Saller added that Lokey signed a Giving Pledge that promised to donate the majority of his wealth into the communities with which he was connected, including several colleges and universities.
“At one event, I noted that for the previous year Lokey was listed as the 13th most generous philanthropist in the country,” Saller recalled. “He corrected me sharply but in good humor ‘the 12th!’”
Lokey is survived by three daughters — Ann Lokey, Basya Lokey and Miriam Khalsa.