Obituary: Lucy M. Lopata, longtime university benefactor, 98


Lucy Mayer Lopata, a longtime friend of Washington University in St. Louis and a leading local philanthropist, died Friday, May 24, 2013, in St. Louis. She was 98. Throughout her life, she demonstrated extraordinary generosity that was built on a foundation of dedication to all humankind.

Lucy Lopata helped her husband, Stanley Lopata, a 1935 Arts & Sciences alumnus, build the Carboline Co., a global manufacturer of protective chemical coatings. Stanley Lopata founded the corporation in 1946 in the basement of their St. Louis home.

Lucy Lopata was committed to education as a source of empowerment and dignity for all people, and she and her husband were dedicated supporters of Washington University. Their first major gift resulted in the construction of Lopata Hall at the School of Engineering & Applied Science, which was dedicated in 1981. Their name also adorns outdoor courtyards at the Olin Business School and the Brown School as well as Lucy and Stanley Lopata House in The Village housing community.

Students throughout the university have benefited from multiple scholarship funds set up by the Lopatas. The couple also established two professorships in the engineering school and the Lopata Classic, a well-known NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament held each fall at the university. For their support of the athletic program, the Lopatas were among the first inductees into Washington University’s Sports Hall of Fame.

Along with her husband, Lucy Lopata was a recipient of the Dean’s Award from the School of Engineering & Applied Science, the Dean’s Medal from the Brown School, and the Jane and Whitney Harris St. Louis Community Service Award. After her husband’s death in 2000, she received the Robert S. Brookings Award in 2004. In 2001, the university granted her an honorary doctor of humanities degree.

“It is impossible to overstate the impact of Lucy and Stanley Lopata’s contributions on Washington University students, faculty and staff,” said Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton. “Lucy was a true friend who provided the university with unwavering support. Her great goodness will continue to benefit our community for years to come.”

Lucy Lopata was born in Germany and attended school in Switzerland before immigrating to the United States in 1934. She was actively involved with many St. Louis organizations, including the Miriam Foundation, MERS Goodwill, Missouri Botanical Garden, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. She received the St. Louis Globe-Democrat’s Women of Achievement Award in 1969 and the Jewish Federation of St. Louis’ Shining Star award in 1995.

She is survived by her four children; four grandchildren, including Sammi Diane Owens (BS ’84), and Shannon Kastor (JD ’99); and five great-grandchildren.