It was a humble beginning for Hallmark Cards, the greeting card giant that posted $4.3 billion in sales in 2000.
To give back to the Kansas City community, Hall and his wife, Elizabeth, established the Hallmark Educational Foundation in 1943. The fund remained relatively small until the Halls' deaths. Elizabeth Hall died in 1976 at age 79; Joyce Hall died in 1982 at age 91.
Now, the foundation -- which was renamed the Hall Family Foundation in the early 1990s -- has assets of $850 million. Its value peaked at $975 million in 1999.
Donald J. Hall, Joyce Hall's son and chairman of the Hall Family Foundation, said the $42 million donation to Kansas University announced Tuesday would have pleased his father.
"I think it's very much in line with his thinking," he said. "He had a closeness and fondness to KU. He also had a high interest in the young. And anything we can do to either assist their health or mental agility is very important."
KU is one of only two recipients of Hall Family Foundation money outside Kansas City. The other, the Menninger Clinic and Foundation, likely will lose its Hall funding when it leaves Topeka later this year.
In 2000, the Hall Family Foundation donated $39.2 million to charities, the largest payout in its history. One hundred recipients are listed in the 2000 annual report -- everything from the Boys & Girls Clubs to the Kansas City Neighborhood Alliance, and from the Jazz District Renaissance Corp. to the Kansas City Art Institute. Hospitals and the Liberty Memorial renovation project and Science City museum in Kansas City also were on the list.
"I always said Kansas City would be a very different place if you took the Hall Family Foundation out of it," said Deborah Emont Scott, chief curator at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo. "They have been so generous. Their philanthropy has been so meaningful to this community in ways that people don't even realize it.
"It's from seniors to children to the arts to health care. It's amazing."
The $42 million the foundation will donate to KU is the largest cash gift, and the second-largest overall gift, in foundation history.
The largest donation was nearly $53.8 million for 84 pieces of artwork it donated in 1999 to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. The artwork -- which the foundation began purchasing in 1986 and has been on loan to the museum much of the time since then -- included a collection of Henry Moore sculptures.
During his lifetime, Joyce Hall was chairman of People-to-People, an exchange program founded by President Dwight Eisenhower that paired Americans with citizens from other countries. Joyce Hall also helped fund Children's Mercy Hospital, which is adjacent to the Hallmark Crown Center complex in Kansas City, Mo.
Hall's friends included Eisenhower, Winston Churchill and Norman Rockwell.
Joyce Hall stepped down as president of Hallmark Cards in 1966, but remained chairman of the company until his death.
Donald Hall was president of the company from 1966 to 1986. He continues to serve as chairman of the board for both the company and the foundation.
-- Staff writer Terry Rombeck can be reached at 832-7145.