Walter and Leonore Annenberg were extraordinary philanthropists, designating more than $3 billion in grants and gifts to major research universities, hospitals, medical centers, public schools, and cultural and civic organizations.
During the Nixon administration, Mr. Annenberg served from 1969 to 1974 as Ambassador to the Court of St. James's, Great Britain. Leonore, a graduate of Stanford University, served at her husband's side, overseeing the renovation of the U.S. ambassador's residence, Winfield House, a project the Annenbergs funded. While in London, Mrs. Annenberg also founded the American Friends of Covent Garden.
In 1951, Walter Annenberg won the prestigious Alfred I. duPont Award for pioneering education via television. In 1983, he received the Ralph Lowell Medal for his "outstanding contribution to public television." Other honors include the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Linus Pauling Medal for Humanitarianism, and the National Medal of Arts, which he shared with Leonore.
Leonore Annenberg, like her husband, played a major role in public service. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan appointed her Chief of Protocol. Mrs. Annenberg served as chairman emeritus of the Foundation of Art and Preservation in Embassies, a private non-profit, non-partisan foundation established to assist the United States Department of State in procuring and maintaining fine and decorative art for United States embassies, chanceries, and ambassadorial residences. She was a member of the Committee for the Preservation of the White House among many other boards and committees. Her philanthropic efforts earned her the Philadelphia Award and the Wagner Medal for Public Service, among other honors.
Former President Geoffrey Cowan speaks about the Annenbergs' dream for Sunnylands.