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Virginia War Memorial Foundation Received $5 Million Gift

Retired Richmond business executive C. Kenneth Wright gave The Virginia War Memorial a $5 million dollar gift, the largest ever the memorial and its non-profit foundation has received.

The Virginia War Memorial Foundation (VWMF) is the recipient of a $5 million gift from retired Richmond business executive C. Kenneth Wright.

The gift, which is the largest ever individual or corporate donation to the Memorial and its non-profit Foundation, will be used to support educational programs, exhibits and capital projects at the Virginia War Memorial.  In recognition for service to the nation and for his philantrophy, the Memorial’s new addition, now under construction, will be named The C. Kenneth Wright Pavilion.

Governor Ralph Northam spoke at a special ceremony held in the Memorial’s VMI Alumni Hall of Honor on June 21 attended by Mr. Wright, members of his family and friends, members of the Virginia War Memorial Board and the Virginia War Memorial Foundation and special guests.

“Mr. C. Kenneth Wright proudly served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II before returning home to Richmond to begin his business career. On behalf of all Virginians, I want to thank him for his service to our country and for his generosity with this gift,” said Governor Northam. “This contribution will allow us to continue sharing the stories of service and sacrifice of the more than 12,000 Virginians honored at the Virginia War Memorial for generations to come.”

The Governor noted that the Virginia War Memorial is a unique public-private partnership. Dedicated in 1956, the Memorial is a division of the Virginia Department of Veterans Services. The Commonwealth is responsible for the facility, which is currently undergoing a $28 million dollar expansion, while the non-profit Virginia War Memorial Foundation provides financial support for the Memorial’s student and teacher educational programs and outreach, documentary films, historical exhibits, theatres and major capital projects.

“The new Pavilion will include a new Medal of Honor gallery, a distance learning studio, a veterans art gallery, a research library, a 350-seat lecture hall and administrative offices,” said Rear Admiral John Hekman, Executive Director of the Virginia War Memorial Foundation. “Ken Wright’s gift will help the Foundation strengthen our endowment while we continue our $2 million Capital Campaign to raise additional funds committed to the current construction and expansion at the Memorial and for our ongoing educational and patriotic programs.”

Virginia War Memorial board member John V. Cogbill III noted that Kenneth Wright and his late wife, Dianne, devoted their lives to philanthropy even before selling their successful rental car business in 1999. They supported the expansion of the Downtown Richmond YMCA, and established the Wright Scholarships for Richmond high school students pursuing higher education. Their gifts to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) have totaled more than $40 million.  In appreciation of this extraordinary support, VCU honored Kenneth Wright with the Michael B. Dowdy Award, the Lifetime Achievement in Philanthropy and an honorary doctorate of humane letters.

“All of us associated with the Virginia War Memorial Foundation are grateful that Kenneth Wright has chosen the Memorial to be the recipient of his continued generosity,” Cogbill said. “It is fitting that his name will be forever associated with the Virginia War Memorial as thousands come to visit the C. Kenneth Wright Pavilion.”

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