The W.M. —and Ann K. Grace Foundation strives to continue to:

  • Provide individual scholarships directly to students (for all levels of school, including private grade schools, high schools, colleges, universities) with scholarships given for merit or need;

  • Award Grants for existing scholarship funds;

  • Award Grants directly to schools for facilities, scholarships
    or general support;

  • Award Grants/scholarships primarily in Arizona and
    Northwest Missouri.

Our Founders


W.M. (Bill) Grace was born in 1934, one of five children, (four boys and a girl) to a Northwest Missouri farmer and his wife and was raised in Burlington Junction, Missouri. His rural work ethics was obvious throughout his life. He traveled and worked economic development projects throughout the world but his heart never left the farm. He always remembered his roots. He continued to work hard throughout his life, as well as continually seeking knowledge in all facets of life.

He was an avid reader, be it a book, magazine, or newspaper. He was a student of world politics and economics. He possessed visionary wisdom and foresight becoming a leader in the field of Economic Development.

After serving in the military, he attended the University of Arizona in Tucson and received his BS and later his MBA degree in 1959. Although accepted to attend Harvard Law School but with a wife to support he felt obligated to get a job. He taught Economics at Arizona State University while also working as a field service engineer for Reynolds Aluminum in Phoenix, Arizona.

Bill Grace returned to Northwest Missouri in 1966 and founded W.M. Grace Construction, Inc. in St. Joseph, Missouri. Shortly thereafter, he also founded W.M. Grace Development Company. In 2006, W.M. Grace celebrated its 40th anniversary of these companies that developed, designed, built, managed and leased shopping centers, office buildings, financial institutions, industrial complexes, housing units, hotels, vacation resorts and casinos.

His company’s quality of service, professionalism and experienced people helped distinguish it as one of the largest privately owned companies in Missouri. Operating across a multitude of states, the company moved a branch office back to Phoenix in 1970 and now maintains the Phoenix office as the corporate headquarters for this portion of the Grace’s businesses.

Bill was active as the Director of the Arizona Association of Economic Development (AAED) receiving the Developer of the Year Award in 1987. He also served as the AAED president in 1992 and was honored again as the Small Business Member of the Year in 1994.

His development company completed many major commercial development projects throughout the United States. The majority of the projects are convention hotels, industrial parks, shopping centers and office buildings.

Later Bill became involved in the ownership, management and construction of the St. Jo Frontier Casino in St Joseph, Missouri; Casino White Cloud, White Cloud, Kansas; Lakeside Casino and Resort, Osceola, Iowa; Mark Twain Casino, La Grange, Missouri as well as the Woodlands Race Track , Kansas City, Kansas. In another example of his varied interests, Bill Grace operated a farm located near Albany, Missouri where he raised Simmental and Red Angus cattle, as well as corn and soybeans.

Bill and his wife Kathy were married in 1955. They were blessed with two sons and one daughter, and six active grandchildren.

Bill Grace quietly pursued philanthropy practices for many years. Before his death in 2004, he served on the Board of Directors as the Vice President for the International Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia (CLL) Research Institute incorporated with M.D. Anderson of the University of Texas, in Houston. Additionally, Bill Grace actively served on the Board of Directors for the Bishop Leblond High School (St. Joseph, Missouri) and was head of the Building/Construction Committee for the school’s expansion, including a new gymnasium. He was an integral part of the Capital Campaign for the endeavor as well as a generous contributor to the building fund.


Ann Kathryn (Kathy) Grace was also born in 1934, the oldest of four children (two girls and two boys) to Howard James and Charlotte Rose Thomas in Buchanan County, in Northwest Missouri. She was stunning , very eloquent, poised, and well educated , having attended schools at Ursuline Academy in Paola, Kansas, Stephens College, Columbia, Missouri, and Kansas University, Lawrence, Kansas. Kathy was a student of the world. She loved to read, loved art, and traveling and was very astute in business and world affairs. Kathy Grace was a quiet, forceful presence known for her strong personality, sense of humor and wit.

Kathy Grace was also instrumental, along with Bill ,in founding the W.M. Grace Companies in 1966. Today, these companies continue to be successfully involved in commercial real estate, acquisitions, hotels and casinos.

Bill and Kathy were married 49 years prior to Bill’s death in April 25, 2004. She followed her husband in death on October 26, 2005.

Philanthropy was a way of life for Kathy Grace. She was a gracious lady with an enormous sense of care and giving. Her kindness was overflowing. Kathy was a very generous contributor to many charitable causes. Through Grace Companies and often quietly with personal funds, she and her husband Bill contributed significantly to many charitable events; a favorite being the Tobin Golf Tournament with the proceeds going directly to the Maryville, Missouri St Francis Hospital.

Before her death, she established the William M. and Ann K. Grace Foundation. She, as well as Bill, believed all people had the capacity to change and improve their lives and sense of well being. Through education people can better influence their organizations, communities and country.

This philanthropy legacy is now being carried forward by the Grace family, including Bill and Kathy’s grandchildren, and it will be measured by the lives touched by the William M. and Ann K. Grace Foundation.