Reva Logan, who along with her husband David was a founding donor of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts, died July 22 at home after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She was 91.
The couple supported the arts in numerous ways for decades, and the family considered the Logan Center their greatest project. Reva and David, AB’39, JD’41, met on the steps of the University of Chicago Law School, when they were both studying at the University. Over the course of more than 60 years of marriage, they built a partnership that sustained their family as well as a wide community of artists, writers and scholars.
Reva Logan “was the rock of our household,” said her son Jonathan. “She had to be. With four men to organize, feed and get out the door each day, it was no picnic, yet she did it with a smile and an occasional kick in the pants. She was always there for us.”
The values that Reva Logan instilled in her children carried over to her passion for the arts, said her son Dan. “My Mom and Dad have always believed that the arts tell us who we are,” he said at the Logan Center’s groundbreaking in May 2010. “They inspire us, and they make us better people.”
That faith in the inspiring power of the arts has been a driving force in the success of the Logan Center, which opened in 2012 to widespread praise. Chicago Tribune arts critic Howard Reich wrote in January 2013: “By any measure, the arrival of the Logan (Center) stands as a major event—not just for the university and for Hyde Park, but for all Chicago and beyond.”
“With her passion for the arts, youth and community, Reva Logan provided inspiration for all involved with the Logan Center for the Arts. We will continue to celebrate her legacy by inspiring the next generation of artists, both at the University, across the South Side and throughout Chicago,” said Bill Michel, executive director of the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts.
Her family described Reva Logan as an important presence behind the scenes for the family and their community. She grew up in Hyde Park, and attended Hyde Park High School and the University of Chicago. She taught for years at the Winnetka Community Nursery School.
Together, the Logans helped enhance and transform the practice of the arts across the nation. In the 1960s, Reva Logan, along with David, began collecting artist-illustrated books. The collection eventually became one of the preeminent collections in the United States, and it now resides at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. They are the initial sponsors of The Jazz Loft Project of the Center for Documentary Studies, featuring photographs and music taped by W. Eugene Smith, which has been exhibited at Lincoln Center and the Chicago Cultural Center. They also have been major supporters of Ken Burns’ series Jazz on PBS and the multicultural literary organization, The Guild Complex.
Journalism was another field where the Logans offered pivotal support. They helped establish the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting as a leader in its field. Their foundation has also provided significant support for the PBS program Frontline and sponsors the annual Logan Symposium, the leading international conference for investigative reporters and students at University of California, Berkeley.
“For all her accomplishments alongside her husband, Reva’s greatest joy was her family, especially her grandchildren,” said her son Richard. “She was never happier or more fulfilled than when in their company—helping them to learn new skills and the lessons of life, and just plain having fun."
David S. Logan preceded his wife in death in 2011. Reva Logan is survived by three sons—Dan, of Alexandria, Va.; Richard, of Oxford, England; and Jonathan, of Berkeley, Calif.—as well as grandchildren Daniel, Erin, Crystal, Reuben, Angelica, Elizabeth, Andrew, Lily and Edward, and great-grandchildren Tiego and Malachi.