Raymond H. “Ray” Wittcoff, an emeritus trustee of Washington University in St. Louis and a member of the School of Medicine’s National Council since 2005, died Tuesday, Jan. 2, 2018, at his home in Phoenix. He was 96.
Wittcoff and his wife, Roma, also an emeritus trustee and School of Medicine National Council member, have been longtime supporters of Washington University, giving generously of their time, expertise and resources.
The Wittcoffs helped fund university building projects, program initiatives, scholarships and professorships. They received Washington University’s Robert S. Brookings Award at Founders Day in 1993 and the School of Medicine’s 2nd Century Award in 1995.
In 2008, the Wittcoffs made a commitment making possible the Roma B. and Raymond H. Wittcoff Distinguished University Professorship in Environment and Energy at Washington University, a title held by Vijay Ramani of the School of Engineering & Applied Science.
A real estate developer, philanthropist, civic leader and visionary, Wittcoff helped bring public television to St. Louis as a co-founder of KETC/Channel 9. In the early 1950s, Wittcoff saw the educational potential of the new technology called television, and he led a group of St. Louisans who applied to the Federal Communications Commission for a public television license through the St. Louis Educational Television Commission (ETC).
The ETC eventually became the call letters of KETC, which went on the air in September 1954 under Wittcoff’s leadership.
Wittcoff also was chair of the board of directors of Washington University Medical Center and of Jewish Hospital (now Barnes-Jewish Hospital). He was instrumental in inaugurating the Washington University Medical Center Redevelopment Corp. In 1986, he established the Raymond H. Wittcoff Professorship in Biological Chemistry at the School of Medicine.
He also was chair of the Human Development Corp., coordinating anti-poverty efforts in the city.
Wittcoff was elected to the university’s Board of Trustees in 1974 and served on numerous committees over the years, including real estate, university finance, medical finance and research-graduate affairs. He served as chair of the Honorary Degree and Real Estate committees. He was named an emeritus trustee in 1994.
A St. Louis native, Wittcoff earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1942, then served as a Navy lieutenant in World War II. After the war, he became president of Transurban Corp., which built, owned and managed office buildings.
In addition to his wife, Wittcoff is survived by his son, Mark; daughter, Caroline; five stepchildren, Joel, Richard, Melanie, Marna and Debbie Broida; four grandchildren; seven stepgrandchildren; and one stepgreat-grandson.
A memorial service was held Jan. 7 in Phoenix, and a service is being planned in St. Louis.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Nine Network, Washington University or a charity of your choice.