Philanthropist Ronya Kozmetsky dies at 90

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[Corrected Oct. 1: Because of a reporting error, this story misidentified Kerri Battles, a public affairs specialist, as an LBJ School spokeswoman. The story also should have said the RGK Foundation donated $5 million to the LBJ School, and misidentified the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service as a branch of the RGK Foundation.]

 Ronya Kozmetsky, who contributed millions to a philanthrophic center in the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, died Tuesday at the age of 90.

Ronya and her late husband George Kozmetsky created the RGK Foundation, an independent philanthropic foundation that seeks to create progressive ways to aid the needy.

RGK are the initials of Ronya and George Kozmetsky. Ronya’s daughter Nadya Scott and her son Gregory Kozmetsky, who now heads the Foundation, survive her.

The foundation donated an initial $5 million to establish the RGK Center for Philanthropy and Community Service in the LBJ School, according to the center's website. The RGK Center is an affiliated branch of the foundation.

Kozmetsky’s optimism and belief in giving was galvanizing, said LBJ School dean Robert Hutchings. Her legacies, the RGK Foundation and the RGK Center in the LBJ School, embody the way she looked at helping people, he said.

“I never had the privilege of actually meeting her, but I know of her work,” Hutchings said. “She was an inspiring figure. The real contribution [to philanthropy] that she made was her idealism, and believing in a culture of giving and a culture of philanthropy.”

Through her foundations, her giving expanded not just in Austin but throughout and outside of Texas, Hutchings said.

Her greatest gift was her revolutionary view on philanthropy, he said.

“She took the whole idea of philanthropy on a more systematic basis,” he said. “She understood that as important as it was to provide for the needy, there needed to be this whole culture of giving. I think that’s what the RGK Center has.”

Funeral services are scheduled for 3 p.m. today at Tarrytown United Methodist Church.

Printed on Friday, October 28, 2011 as: Renowned philanthropist dies at 90