Nathan Cummings

The Nathan Cummings Foundation


Nathan Cummings


"Nothing will ever be accomplished if all possible objections must first be overcome." - Nathan Cummings' credo

Nathan Cummings was born in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada, in 1896. He moved from impoverished beginnings to great success by hard work, entrepreneurial genius, and a willingness to take risks.

In 1939, he purchased the C.D. Kenny Company of Baltimore, a small wholesale distributor of canned foods, coffee, tea, and spices. That was the beginning of the international company known today as the Sara Lee Corporation. For three decades he personally guided the growth of the company. He retired from active management in 1968 to pursue philanthropic interests. In his later years, he was a perceptive art collector and a generous philanthropist, with a strong interest in medicine and science. He inherited a spirit of sharing and community from his immigrant parents, and transmitted that spirit to his children and grandchildren, who contribute their time and energy to the Foundation. He died in 1985, leaving the majority of his estate to this Foundation.