LAWRENCE — A $4 million estate gift from University of Kansas alumnus Irving Kuraner and his wife, Leona, will establish a scholarship fund to provide assistance to undergraduate students in any discipline who show academic excellence and financial need.
Irving Kuraner most recently lived in Kansas City, Missouri, where he died in 2014. Leona preceded him in death in 1996. He was born in Leavenworth in 1919 and earned a bachelor’s degree from the KU College of Liberal Arts & Sciences in 1940, where he was a Summerfield Scholar. He then received a scholarship to attend law school at Columbia University in New York. His older brother, Alfred Kuraner, also a KU alumnus in undergraduate and law schools, along with Alfred’s wife, Genevieve, loaned him additional money to attend.
His education went on hiatus during World War II; Irving enlisted in the U.S. Army, was trained in radar and spent time at an air base in England. After his honorable discharge from the Army in 1945, he returned to law school and graduated in 1946.
Irving Kuraner practiced law in New York for a year and then moved to Kansas City, Missouri, to join Alfred Kuraner in private practice. In 1981, he joined what is now American Century Investments as executive vice president and general counsel. He retired in 1990.
Kuraner was motivated to establish the estate gift at KU Endowment because he had received a Summerfield Scholarship himself and was grateful for the opportunity that gave him.
“My way through college was paid by a scholarship,” Kuraner said in an interview with a family historian. “If it had not been for that, I’m not sure I would have ever even attempted college.”
The Summerfield Scholarship, KU’s first merit scholarship, was established in 1929 by alumnus Solon E. Summerfield. He supported the scholarship program throughout his lifetime and, in his will, provided for its continuation through gifts from the Summerfield Foundation.
Chancellor Bernadette Gray-Little expressed her gratitude for the gift.
“The financial support he received was instrumental in Irving Kuraner’s ability to attend KU and enjoy a successful career. Through their estate gift, the Kuraners left a legacy that will open doors for future leaders to attend KU,” Gray-Little said. “This will enable deserving students to reduce debt and devote more time to intellectual exploration.”
Kuraner looked forward to helping students far into the future with his own gift. “It pleases me that 50 or 75 years from now some kid from KU will be able to say, ‘There was a guy named Kuraner in the first 10 years of this century who left a scholarship fund that enabled me to go to school,’” Kuraner said in a 2004 interview with KU Endowment.
KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.