b. April 18, 1892, Raynham, Mass.
d. November 7, 1966, Columbus, Ohio
A successful businessman and promoter of the cooperative movement, Murray Danforth Lincoln was born on a small farm near Rayham, Massachusetts, on April 18, 1892, the second son of Minot J. and Helen S. (Andrews) Lincoln. Educated in the Raynham public schools, he received a bachelor of science degree in 1914 from the Massachusetts Agricultural College and embarked on a career as a county agricultural agent in New London County, Connecticut. One of the first agricultural agents in New England and the first in Connecticut, Lincoln organized one of the earliest cooperative milk distribution plants in New England, at Brockton, Mass., in 1916. In 1920, he assumed leadership in the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation, pooling farmers' purchasing power, and transformed it into one of the nation's largest farm cooperatives.
In 1926, Lincoln left agriculture to found a mutual automobile insurance corporation, transforming it too into a massive success. He went on to become President of four firms, Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company (both the automobile and parent firm), Nationwide Mutual Fire Insurance Company, Nationwide Life Insurance Company, and Nationwide General Insurance Company (auto). Together these companies offered more than 160 different kinds of insurance coverage to three million policyholders.
A philanthropist, Lincoln helped found the international relief organization CARE in 1945, and he worked with a number of organizations dedicated to relief and development, including the American Food for Peace Council, Freedom from Hunger Committee, and the central committee of the International Cooperative Alliance. He played a significant role with several similar federal agencies, serving as chair of President John F. Kennedy’s Food for Peace task force, on the Peace Corps council, on the advisory committee of the Agency for International Development (AID), the executive committee of the U.S. Committee for the United Nations, the U.N. Advisory Council, the U.S. delegation to the United Nations Conference on Food and Agriculture, and the National Commission on Literacy. He was Director of Agriculture at UMass in the 1950s.
After a two-year illness, Murray D. Lincoln died of pneumonia at Grant Hospital in Columbus, Ohio in November 1966. He was survived by his wife, Anne, of Easton, Massachusetts. In the Fall of 1970, the Campus Center was completed and named in his honor.