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Alaska philanthropist Mary Louise Rasmuson dies

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July 31, 2012 08:45 PM EST | AP


ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A philanthropist whose family foundation has awarded more than $200 million in grants to nonprofit Alaska organizations has died at the age of 101, foundation officials said Tuesday.

Mary Louise Milligan Rasmuson died Monday at her Anchorage home, Rasmuson Foundation spokeswoman Cassandra Stalzer said.

"We are fortunate to have had Mary Louise in our family," Ed Rasmuson, her stepson and chairman of the Rasmuson Foundation, said in a statement. "We are also fortunate that she loved Alaska."

Besides the foundation, Rasmuson extended her personal philanthropy to institutions like the Anchorage Museum and the Alaska Native Heritage Center, an educational and cultural center in Anchorage.

"I have yet to find someone more gracious or someone who cared for Alaska – especially Native Alaskans – as much as Mary Louise did," Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said in a statement. "Alaska lost a giant."

In addition to her varied interests in Alaska, Rasmuson served on the national board of the American Cancer Society and was a lifetime member of both the Association of U.S. Army and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People.

Several facilities bear her name, including the Elmer and Mary Louise Rasmuson Theater at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

The family is planning a funeral mass Sept. 10 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Anchorage. The family is asking that memorials be made to the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center.