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Benefactor Katherine Loker Dies at 92


Update: official University statement

Katherine B. Loker, whose gifts to Harvard underwrote the renovation of the Widener Library main reading room and the transformation of the Memorial Hall basement into a student-activity space—both named in her honor—died June 26 at her home in Oceanside, California. According to news accounts, the cause of death was complications from a stroke.

Loker, an alumna of the University of Southern California, and her late husband Donald P. Loker '25, who died 1988, were generous supporters of USC, Harvard, and other institutions, including the Richard Nixon Library & Museum. The Harvard project supported by Katherine Loker that passersby may most readily recognize is the restored top of the Memorial Hall tower. She was saluted with the Harvard Medal in 1996 and with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Commencement in June 2000—as reported in the issue of Harvard Magazine that reported on the conclusion of the University Campaign, and featured the refurbished Memorial Hall on the cover. The citation for her honorary degree read, "Creating a commons for students, envisioning a haven for readers, rebuilding the capstone of a campus landmark, she lifts our sights skyward with energetic aspiration and towering generosity."

Harvard Magazine has previously published accounts of Katherine Loker's support for the Widener renovation from inception to completion and the Memorial Hall restoration, from planning to construction. Detailed obituary notices appeared in several local newspapers, including the Palos Verdes Peninsula News and the Los Angeles Times. The Harvard University Gazette published an account of her Harvard Medal when it was presented by President Neil L. Rudenstine.