The Nippert Family: A Study in the Power of Philanthropy

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Louise and Louis Nippert were a power couple whose far-reaching interests—the arts, education, sports, agriculture, ecology—were matched by the means to support them. Over their lifetimes, their legacy of giving would total hundreds of millions of dollars to organizations, institutions, and individuals, most often locally, usually quietly, and more often than not anonymously.

UC’s football stadium was named for Louis’s brother, James, a Bearcat lineman who was injured during the 1923 Homecoming game with Miami University and died a month later. To honor his memory, the boys’ grandfather, James Norris Gamble, helped fund the new stadium.

Although Louise and Louis avoided publicity (the image at top is from their 1935 Christmas card), sometimes their money and its impact pushed them into the headlines. In 1966, when rumors were flying that the Reds were leaving Cincinnati, Louis was part of a group that purchased the team to keep it in town. And in 2010, the Green-acres Foundation, started by the Nipperts in the late 1980s to encourage conservation, found itself at war with preservationists over the fate of James Norris Gamble’s home in Westwood, a controversy that boiled through various lawsuits and protests for more than two years until the house was razed.

At the end of 2009, two and a half years before she died just shy of her 101st birthday, Louise (or “Mrs. Nippert,” as most in the arts community called her) made headlines when she offered up $85 million to create the Louise Dieterle Nippert Musical Arts Fund—a gift structured to encourage cooperation among the symphony, opera, and ballet, and to ensure that those organizations will continue to perform in Music Hall.

When Louis’s brother died, his mother wrote a note to the University News, thanking the UC varsity squad for sending flowers. “Don’t forget him too soon,” she pleaded. James had no children; neither did Louise and Louis. But it seems likely that in this town, the Nippert name will not soon be lost to memory.

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