Early CISAC researcher remembered

Marjorie Kiewit, a former CISAC researcher and longtime supporter, passed away at her home in Boston on Nov. 12, 2016.  She was 95.

Kiewit was a researcher for the Center for International Security and Cooperation under John W. Lewis, CISAC co-founder and the William Haas Professor of Chinese Politics. She was also a generous and enthusiastic supporter of CISAC’s mission to make the world safer through knowledge and education.

Lewis said, “Marjorie worked throughout CISAC in its formative years and supported with wonderful gifts the entire center. In the last 10 years or so, she primarily supported my project (the Project on Peace and Cooperation in the Asian-Pacific Region), but she embraced the overall center's commitment to peace.”

For example, Lewis and his co-author acknowledge the support of Kiewit that made this 2016 research paper on China’s interests in the South China Sea possible. Always maintaining such connections after her two-plus decades at Stanford, Kiewit worked on campus at the Northeast Asia-United States Forum and then CISAC. She also served as a member of Stanford’s Board of Visitors for the Institute of International Studies. 

One Stanford colleague said Kiewit possessed an “intuitively correct understanding of the world events and world leaders.”  Another described her as “engaged, intelligent and relevant to how we faced extraordinary challenges and opportunities with the Chinese, North Koreans and Russians. She brought light and joy into all of our work."

Roots and results

Kiewit was born on May 28, 1921, in Milwaukee, Wis., to Kellogg and Laura Harkins. She graduated summa cum laude from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., in 1943.  Later, she married James Buchanan, and they resided in Neenah, Wis., with their four children. She served as president of the Neenah School Board, on the Wisconsin Governor's Commission in Education, and as first woman president of the Board of Trustees of Lawrence University. Kiewit attended the University of Chicago, where she received her doctorate in higher education in 1977. Upon graduation, she worked for the Dallas Independent School District as a senior analyst.  

Kiewit maintained her association with Stanford for over three decades until her death, during which time she traveled with high-level delegations to China, Russia, and North and South Korea and cultivated close relationships with Chinese educators and senior policy makers to share ideas and proposals in the field of educational and foreign policy. She was also the founder and served as longtime chairperson of the Helios Foundation, which supports charitable institutions throughout the world and promotes philanthropy for future generations. She spent the last 20 years living in Boston to be near family, which was always a priority in her life, her family stated.

Kiewit was preceded in death by her two husbands; parents; two brothers, John and William Harkins; and her daughter, Linda Jacob.  She is survived by her sister, Barbara Belle of Belleville, Wis.; her daughters Barbara (Jack) Aalfs of Sioux City, Iowa and Nancy (Tom) McLoughlin of Mystic, Conn.; her son John (Lynne) Buchanan of Appleton, Wis.; her son-in-law Jonah Jacob of Boston; and seven grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren, and three step-grandchildren. 

A celebration of Kiewit's life will be held next summer in Appleton, Wis.  Donations in her memory may be made to the Marjorie Buchanan Kiewit Scholarship Fund at Lawrence University. The address is:

Development Office, Lawrence University

711 E. Boldt Way

Appleton, WI 54911