Remembering Marilyn Fox

Marilyn FoxPhoto: Marilyn Fox at the Daniel Webster Society Dinner in 2012.

Philanthropist and community activist Marilyn Fox, who served as a trustee at Webster University for nearly two decades and helped raise funds for numerous charitable organizations in St. Louis including Webster University, volunteered for many St. Louis-based community organizations and served as the first female president of the St. Louis Jewish Community Center, died on Sunday, Feb. 18 (see official obituary). She was 89.  

“Marilyn Fox had boundless energy and a sincere love for Webster students. As one who understood and supported the transforming power of a Webster education, she expressed the conviction that at Webster we were saving lives. Marilyn was a faithful and strong proponent of creating opportunities for people of all ages, from pre-school through adulthood,” said Webster University Chancellor Elizabeth (Beth) J. Stroble. “When she saw a need, she immediately went to work to fulfill it. I am grateful for her gracious and generous friendship.” 

She was born as Marilyn R. Widman in University City, Missouri and married Sam Fox on Oct. 25, 1953. Sam would go on to establish the St. Louis-based investment firm Harbour Group Industries and was appointed U.S. Ambassador to Belgium from 2007 to 2009 by President George W. Bush.  

As a couple, the Fox’s supported organizations throughout St. Louis and around the world. Through these activities, Marilyn was well respected in the St. Louis community for her personal dedication to organizations and causes that enhanced St. Louis.

Marilyn’s relationship with Webster began in 1988, with her husband Sam, when they first supported Webster students through what has now become the annual Sam and Marilyn Fox Foundation Scholarship Fund. These scholarships provide direct, essential support to financially disadvantaged students and the Fox Scholarships have had a transformative effect on the lives of the recipients. In addition to their generous annual support, Sam and Marilyn made a significant leadership gift to support student scholarships in perpetuity.  

She and her husband also founded the The Sam and Marilyn Fox Endowed Scholarship Fund in 2012, an endowed scholarship that supports Webster University undergraduate degree-seeking students with demonstrated financial need in any of our Schools/Colleges. In 2015, her children Jeff Fox, Cheri Fox, Pamela Fox Claman, Greg Fox and Steve Fox established the Marilyn R. Fox Endowed Scholarship Fund, an endowed scholarship that supports Webster University students in the Sargent Conservatory in the Leigh Gerdine College of Fine Arts. 

Marilyn joined Webster’s Board of Trustees and served from 1990-1999, 2000-2011(including a leave of absence from 2007-2009 when she lived in Belgium) and from 2012-2019. Marilyn also served as chair of the Centennial Gala in 2015, helping the University to raise $1.2 million for the newly created Webster University Next Century Leaders Scholarship Fund. That fundraising effort was the largest initial donation to an endowed scholarship fund in the University’s history.  

Because of her efforts, the Student Welcome Center in Webster Hall was named the “Marilyn R. Fox Student Welcome Center.” She also served on the Daniel Webster Society Board of Directors, acting as board president from 2004 to 2005, and on its Advancement Committee and Student Life Committee. She has been a Webster Society member since 1988, and served on its board from 1992 to 2009, twice serving as its President from 1992 to 1995 and from 2004 to 2006.  

In 2012, Marilyn was honored with The Daniel Webster Society Visionary Award. The annual award recognizes the unwavering commitment of individuals who have been indispensable in advancing the mission of Webster University. Marilyn was recognized for her service as a trustee, being a long-time benefactor to the University and for her energetic service supporting students. Among her many contributions to Webster University that led to the award were her many years in service to Webster University as a trustee, her service on the Daniel Webster Society Board of Directors, and her support of students through scholarships. In 2019, Webster University honored Marilyn and Sam Fox during the annual Scholarship Dinner.  

“Marilyn had a real passion for education, whether it was formal education at a college or university, or if it was an opportunity for a person to enrich themselves by visiting a museum or seeing an artistic performance, she was always for it,” said Webster University President Julian Schuster. “Education was her zest and passion and we at Webster University are richer by benefiting from her wisdom, compassion and vision. She will be greatly missed.”  

Marilyn was preceded in death by her son Greg in 2016. She is survived by her husband, Sam Fox; daughters Cheri Fox and Pamela (Aba) Fox Claman of Israel; daughter-in-law Merle (the late Greg), of St. Louis; sons Jeff (Lotta) and Steven (Nan), of St. Louis; 15 grandchildren; and 4 great-grandchildren. Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. today, Tuesday, Feb. 20, at Temple Israel in Creve Coeur. The burial will be private.  

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