FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Myra Kraft, the wife of New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft and a long-time philanthropist, has died. She was 68.
The NFL team said in a statement on its website that Myra Hiatt Kraft died Wednesday morning after a battle with cancer. The statement said "we are all heartbroken" and added that the philanthropic community has "suffered a great loss."
Myra Kraft held key positions in numerous charitable and community organizations.
She managed the Robert and Myra Kraft Family Foundation and was president of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, which contributed millions of dollars to charities in the United States and Israel.
In 1995, she became the first woman to chair the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston, a position she held until 2002.
She married Robert Kraft in June 1963 while she was a student at Brandeis University.
Myra Kraft was the daughter of Jacob Hiatt, who grew up in Lithuania and moved to the United States in 1935. He settled in Worcester, where she was born. Hiatt became president of the E.F. Dodge Paper Box Corp. in Leominster in 1938 and stayed on when it was bought by Whitney Box.
The company is now known as the Rand-Whitney Group which Robert Kraft bought in 1972. He now serves as its chairman and chief executive officer.
Myra Kraft also served as chairwoman of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies and was on the board of directors of the American Repertory Theatre, Brigham and Women's Hospital, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston, and Brandeis.
The Krafts have four sons, Jonathan, Daniel, Joshua and David. Jonathan is president of the Patriots. Daniel is president and CEO of International Forest Products, founded in 1972 by his father. Joshua is president and CEO of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Boston.
Bill Belichick issued a statement on Wednesday:
On behalf of the entire Patriots football operation, we mourn the passing of Myra Kraft. As much support as her quiet but unmistakable presence provided us in the competitive arena and as much as I personally will miss her warm embraces before and after each game, Myra shined brightest in a much broader arena.
In the humanitarian arena, her generosity through philanthropy was admired and appreciated by all. She made a permanent impression on hundreds of coaches, players, staff and our families as a model of grace, strength and giving. Myras vision and example will impact and remain very much with our team forever.
-- The Associated Press