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Center for the Study of Aging established at University of Denver

DENVER Betty Knoebel, widow of Denver food services pioneer Ferdinand "Fritz" Knoebel, has given the University of Denver (DU) $17.5 million, among the largest gifts in its history. DU will use the gift to establish the Knoebel Center for the Study of Aging and to support the School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management (HRTM) in DU's Daniels College of Business.

The gift includes the B Bar K Ranch and a future cash commitment. The ranch is a 996-acre mountain property valued in excess of $10 million, and is located off North Turkey Creek Road in Morrison.

The Knoebel Center for the Study of Aging will expand DU's role in interdisciplinary research on aging and aging-related conditions. Faculty positions will be added in molecular life sciences and bioengineering. When the ranch is eventually sold, DU will apply up to $10 million from the net proceeds to help fund construction of facilities to house the Knoebel Center and support its programs and research.

At HRTM, Mrs. Knoebel's gift will increase student scholarships, faculty support, industry partnerships and experiential learning programs with the overarching goal of achieving international distinction. The school will be named the Fritz Knoebel School of Hotel, Restaurant and Tourism Management.

"Betty Knoebel's generosity to DU will benefit both our students and the broader public that we serve," said Chancellor Robert Coombe in announcing the gift. "The population of older Americans is growing rapidly. The work of the Knoebel Center will help to both extend the lives of the aged and improve the quality of their lives and those of their family members. We are particularly excited that this gift will usher in an expansion of our existing partnership with Denver Health. And we are proud that our HRTM program will bear the name of such a prominent business leader."

Denver native Fritz Knoebel founded Knoebel Mercantile Company, a bakery distributor, in 1929, and built it into the nation's largest privately owned food service distribution company. Known as Nobel Inc., it was acquired by Sysco Inc. as a subsidiary in 1982.

He was chairman of Nobel/Sysco Food Services Co. until his retirement in 1999 at age 90. He died in 2005. Betty Knoebel, now 78, and Fritz Knoebel received honorary degrees from DU in 1992 in recognition of their role in the Denver business and philanthropic communities.

"I'm so pleased to be able to honor my husband's legacy and recognize the nationally ranked programs of the Daniels College, particularly the longstanding reputation and industry partnerships of the HRTM School," said Mrs. Knoebel. "Likewise, I want to support the University's plans to further develop aging-related programs that will improve lives everywhere."


Contact: Jim Berscheidt
University of Denver

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