Businessman Gus Karos, who died last year at age 87, left more than $14 million in his will to the Cleveland Clinic, a nonprofit multi-specialty academic medical center in Cleveland, Ohio, that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education.
The bequest, which was announced earlier this week, will be used to support a database started in the 1960s that is at the center of Cleveland Clinic’s outcomes research in the field of cardiovascular medicine. The registry allows Cleveland Clinic to develop new physician investigators and support them early on in their careers when they often have difficulty securing outside research funding.
The gift will also be used to establish a scholarship fund to support current trainees in the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute. It will also provide funding for Cleveland Clinic’s Women’s Cardiovascular Center, Cardio-Oncology Center, and Pediatric Lipid Clinic, as well as research into adult congenital heart disease.
According to a press release issued the Cleveland Clinic, the $14 million gift brings Karos’ total giving in support of Cleveland Clinic to more than $26 million, making him one of Cleveland Clinic’s top 10 benefactors of all time.
“Mr. Karos leaves behind a lasting legacy of tremendous support of Cleveland Clinic over the past three decades,” said Toby Cosgrove, president and CEO of Cleveland Clinic. “His generosity has made an indelible impact on the patient care we provide and will be felt for decades to come.”
In 2008, Cleveland Clinic named the Gus P. Karos Grand Lobby in the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Pavilion in recognition of his support of the building’s construction. Karos’ long history of generosity also includes the establishment of the Gus P. Karos Endowed Chair in Clinical Cardiovascular Medicine in 2001, currently held by Curtis Rimmerman. He also gave in support of ophthalmology research and several Cleveland Clinic fundraising campaigns.
Karos served on the Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute’s Leadership Board for six years and was an honorary chairman of Today’s Innovations, Tomorrow’s Healthcare: Campaign for Cleveland Clinic. He was named a Cleveland Clinic Distinguished Fellow, the highest honor bestowed on individuals who have made extraordinary contributions of service and resources, and was a member of the 1921 Society, the Medallion Society, and the Pyramid Legacy Society, all recognizing him for his generosity toward the Cleveland Clinic.
Karos, who worked in the restaurant business, owned and operated the Carousel Snack Shop in Chicago and, in 1960, obtained the franchise rights to own and operate the first McDonald’s restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. Over the next 40 years, he and his brother, Nick, owned and operated an additional 24 McDonald’s restaurants.
Karos personally designed entire decor packages for the 25 McDonald dining rooms. He was also instrumental in starting the Ronald McDonald House in Cleveland.
An avid worldwide traveler, he was a collector of art and an accomplished ballroom dancer. He was also a member of both All Saints Greek Orthodox Church in Joliet and SS. Constantine and Helen Cathedral in Cleveland.
“Our parents, Jenny and Peter Karapanos, immigrated to the United States from Greece, started a restaurant business, worked extremely hard, and earned enough to put their sons through college,” said Karos’ brother, Nick. “That education enabled Gus and me to become entrepreneurs, which has rewarded us enough for Gus to make his generous gifts to Cleveland Clinic, an institution which he cherished and admired throughout most of his life.”