Local philanthropists Ken and Nancy Kranzberg get a reward every time they contribute to a nonprofit: They say seeing the look on the recipients’ faces is worth a million dollars.
From the beginning of their marriage, the couple, both St. Louis natives, decided they wanted to give back—and they wanted to do it in their city. “We believe St. Louis is the most culturally rich city per capita in the country,” Nancy notes. “We are very proud of our city, and we love our city.” Ken adds that, “St. Louis is home.” That love for their hometown has led the couple to donate time, energy and resources to more than 500 civic, social and arts organizations through the years.
As founder of TricorBraun and Kranson Industries Inc., Ken has used his business and leadership skills to help the boards of multiple local organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League and Grand Center Inc. Nancy, a 1966 graduate of Washington University with a degree in education in arts and sciences, has applied her knowledge and passion of the arts to the boards of various cultural groups, such as Saint Louis Art Museum and the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis.
The Kranzbergs are currently focused on three big projects: Laumeier Sculpture Park, through work on its capital campaign; Grand Center Inc., where Ken serves as chair; and Northside Workshop, a community art and education studio that was remodeled with the couple’s support.
They also are heavily involved in the Saint Louis Art Museum, including helping its capital campaign. “We can’t wait to see the end results of the new building,” Nancy says. Another organization “near and dear to Ken’s heart” is the Jewish Federation, as he loves being part of the Anti-Defamation League. For Nancy, some favorite moments have emerged from her volunteer work at Saint Louis Art Museum. “As a museum guide, I just love to see the look on people’s faces when I’ve helped them to appreciate what they’re looking at,” she says.
In addition, the Kranzbergs’ multitude of contributions to Washington University have included: University Libraries; Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts and Nancy Spirtas Kranzberg Studio for the Illustrated Book; and the Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Arts & Architecture Library. “I get letters from kids who use the (Illustrated Book) facility and they say because of their work there, they have gone on to land significant jobs,” Nancy says.
Many great St. Louis philanthropists have inspired the couple’s commitment to giving back to the community. “My grandfather always said he never knew anybody who went broke from giving,” Ken says. “So we always thought the best thing you can do with your money once you have your kids taken care of is to give it away.” Nancy notes, “We also are inspired by I. E. Millstone, who said, Nobody will know the pleasure of giving until they give themselves.”
For others with the desire to contribute to the community, the Kranzbergs recommend finding your passion and getting involved. “The more you’re involved, the more fun it is to give,” Ken says. “You can give a lot besides money; you can give your time and you can help to raise money. Giving of time and efforts is often even more valuable.” Nancy couldn’t agree more. “The pleasure we get from giving is just incredible, and those who don’t give just don’t know what they’re missing.”