ROCKPORT, Maine — Doris Buffett, a philanthropist and former resident of Morehead City, died Tuesday at her home in Rockport, Maine, at the age of 92, multiple news sources report.
Ms. Buffett was the older sister of billionaire investor Warren Buffett and is remembered in the region as a benefactor of education and other charitable causes. Known as “the sunshine lady,” she founded the Sunshine Lady Foundation in 1996 while living in Carteret County and gave away millions of her fortune to helping others.
Ms. Buffett had a particular interest in education and helped support the county’s public schools.
Carteret County Schools Communications Director Tabbie Nance, who worked directly with Ms. Buffett as one of her “sunbeams,” said the late philanthropist established the Edith Stahl Craft Excellence in Teaching Award and helped fund improvements at many schools throughout the county.
“The generosity of Doris Buffett impacted and will continue to impact people around the world,” Ms. Nance told the News-Times. “She was a determined, compassionate lady who struggled in her early life and then moved forward to live a life as a philanthropist.”
In 1998, the Sunshine Lady Foundation started a scholarship program aimed at helping college-bound students in eastern North Carolina pay for school. Ms. Nance said to date, the foundation has awarded more than $11.5 million in scholarships to students from the region. Morehead City residents Diane Grimsley and Mary Ellen Box, who died last fall, led the program.
“That scholarship program changed the lives of many people in Carteret County and that has impacted generations of people in this county because Doris focused the program on middle-income families, a demographic that she believed needed but rarely received scholarship assistance,” Ms. Nance said.
After Hurricane Florence in 2018, the Sunshine Lady Foundation provided a matching donation to the Carteret County Public School Foundation to help students affected by the storm. Ms. Nance said Executive Director Mitty Beal and Manager Judy Wooten helped the Sunshine Lady Foundation maintain its strong presence in Carteret County long after Ms. Buffett had moved away.
When reached for comment, Ms. Wooten said the foundation would provide a statement at a later time.
Ms. Buffett’s legacy can also be felt at the Boys & Girls Club in Morehead City, which is known as the Sunshine Lady Club. According to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Coastal Plains website, a $500,000 matching grant from the Sunshine Lady Foundation launched a communitywide fundraising effort to build the club’s 17,000-square-foot facility on Bridges Street.
Along with her brother, Ms. Buffett also founded the Letters Foundation and gave to other philanthropic causes throughout her life.
Ms. Buffett is survived by her brother, Warren; sister, Bertie; children, Robin, Sydney and Marshall with his wife Donna; grandson, Alexander and his wife Mimi and their two daughters, Luna and Remy; and grandsons, Graham, Asher and Marshall.
Contact Elise Clouser at email@example.com; by phone at 252-726-7081 ext. 229; or follow on Twitter @eliseccnt.