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Leonore Annenberg, shown here at her estate in California, died last Thursday at the age of 91.

Leonore Annenberg, emeritus trustee and founding member of the Annenberg School for Communication, died last Thursday morning at Eisenhower Medical Center in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at the age of 91.

Annenberg was elected to the University's Board of Trustees in 1982, and was elected a life trustee in 1987. She received an honorary degree from Penn in 1985 and the University of Pennsylvania Medal for Distinguished Achievement in 1994.

Annenberg and her late husband, 1931 Wharton alumnus and 1966 honorary-degree recipient Walter Annenberg, founded the Annenberg School for Communication in 1958.

In 1993, they created a permanent endowment for the Annenberg School and created the Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Annenberg was a "gracious woman who, with her husband, defined our mission in 1993 and inspired our work in the years that followed," APPC director Kathleen Jamieson said in a press release.

The Annenbergs had since provided additional funding to the University, including 24 professorships - primarily in the School of Arts and Sciences, but also in the Communication School, the School of Dental Medicine, the School of Medicine and the Law School.

"The impact of their generosity is beyond measure," University President Amy Gutmann and chairman of the Board of Trustees James Riepe said in the release.

Annenberg is survived by her sister, two daughters, one stepdaughter, seven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

According to Jamieson, there will be no changes in the administration of the Communication School, APPC or the Annenbergs' professorships.

In 2002, the Annenbergs established a $100 million special operating trust for continued support of the Communication School and APPC.

"Even in this economy, that endowment is sufficient to ensure that the school will survive and prosper," Jamieson said.

Annenberg also served as U.S. chief of protocol during former President Ronald Reagan's first term in office.

"Lee Annenberg's death is a huge loss for all of us," said former first lady Nancy Reagan in the release. "She was a dear and longtime friend who provided tremendous personal support in the many years of Ronnie's illness and since his death."

Annenberg was also active in the arts, including as a trustee emeritus of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, a member of the board of trustees of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and a former trustee of the National Gallery of Art.

She won numerous awards throughout her lifetime, including the United Nations Association Global Leadership Award in 2005 and the Philadelphia Award in 2006.

Plans for a memorial event will be announced in the coming months, according to the release. In the meantime, Annenberg's family asks that in lieu of sending flowers, individuals make a donation to the charity of their choice.

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