Robert Kraft is a polarizing NFL owner. Patriots fans have basically deified him thanks to the dynasty he’s built over the last two decades. But football fans outside of New England don’t often have a positive opinion of Kraft. If they knew more about his personal life, they may think differently. Stories about Kraft and his late wife show a different side of the billionaire.
Robert Kraft marries his college sweetheart, Myra Hiatt
Kraft attended Columbia University, where he met his future wife, Myra Hiatt, details The Boston Globe. He was home on winter break during his junior year when the two first met. The couple wed in 1963. By the time Kraft earned his MBA from Harvard Business School in 1965, they had their first son, with another on the way.
During their 48-year marriage, the Krafts had four sons — one of whom, Jonathan is the president of the Patriots. After graduating from Harvard, Kraft wanted to head to Wall Street to build his fortune. But Myra’s father wanted Kraft to help run the Hiatt’s family business, E.F. Dodge Paper Box Corp. Kraft did, and he eventually bought the company, now known as the Rand-Whitney Group.
Myra Kraft dies of cancer
While details of Myra’s cancer battle aren’t public, she died due to her illness in July 2011 at the age of 68, according to MassLive. Iconic musician Elton John performed the Krafts’ wedding song, “Moon River,” at their 40th-anniversary celebration. When the singer found out about Myra’s death, he sent Kraft a tall white orchid to the Patriots owner’s office.
The Patriots dedicated the subsequent season to her as Kraft wore an MHK pin on his lapel to honor her with her initials. The team ended up winning the Super Bowl that season. Kraft and the rest of the team thought of Myra as they celebrated, per NFL.com.
Linebacker Jerod Mayo even said after the game, “The angel was looking down on us.” Kraft acknowledged a higher force impacted the game: “There are forces at work beyond anything we can understand” before telling reporters that “she’s really happy tonight.”
The Krafts’ philanthropy
The Kraft family is known for its philanthropy. From 1995 to 2002, Myra chaired the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, the first woman in the position. She managed the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation and served as president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, which has contributed millions of dollars to charities in Israel and the U.S.
Myra was chairwoman of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies. She served on the board of directors of a number of organizations, details MassLive.com, including:
- The American Repertory Theatre
- Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- The United Way of Massachusetts Bay
- The Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston
- Brandeis University, her alma mater
Myra isn’t the only member of the Kraft family with a charitable side. The Krafts’ son Josh serves as the president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston. One of the causes that the Krafts are most involved in is American Football Israel, which includes Jerusalem’s Kraft Football Stadium and the Kraft Family Israel Football League.
Robert Kraft contributed $6 million to build Israel’s first regulation-size American football field. In 2017, he traveled to the county for the opening of the Kraft Family Sports Campus, bringing NFL Hall of Famers there with him.