PALO ALTO (CBS SF) — Former Stanford President Donald Kennedy, who has been living in an assisted living facility in Redwood City, has died of COVID-19 on Tuesday morning, according to his family. He was 88.
In a statement to the San Mateo Daily, Kennedy’s wife — Robin — said the former educator and Food and Drug Administration Commissioner took a turn for the worse over the weekend while battling the virus at the Gordon Manor facility.
“My husband was not alone in his room any time during the days of his illness,” she wrote. “When he took a turn for the worse on Saturday night, a family member was with him holding his hands, massaging his face, talking to him and reminding him how much he was loved by his family. Our (adult) children and I and two of our grandchildren were able to ‘be present’ on Sunday evening, via FaceTime.”
“It gave each of us a chance to say goodbye,” she added.
Gordon Manor has been one of the many Bay Area senior care facilities battling outbreaks of the virus. While not confirmed by San Mateo County health officials, the newspaper reported Kennedy was the third resident of the facility to die as a result of COVID-19.
Kennedy was named the university’s eighth president in 1980 and guided Stanford over 12 years, leading it to emerge as one of the nation’s top research universities.
“As we mourn the loss of Don Kennedy, we also salute his enormous contributions to Stanford and to our country,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne in a statement.
“As a biologist, as a national voice for science, as a vigorous leader of Stanford University and as an engaging teacher beloved by so many students, Don brought to his endeavors an enduring commitment to academic excellence, a deep wellspring of warmth and good humor and a vision for the possibilities always ahead of Stanford.”
He also led the Stanford Centennial Campaign, which raised nearly $1.3 billion and provided funding for new equipment, new buildings and expanded financial aid.
Kennedy served as commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration from 1977 to 1979 under President Jimmy Carter, and as editor-in-chief of Science, the weekly journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, from 2000 to 2008.