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CMU donor William S. Dietrich II dies at 73

William S. Dietrich II, a former steel executive and current Carnegie Mellon trustee, made a $265 million gift to the university. (credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University) William S. Dietrich II, a former steel executive and current Carnegie Mellon trustee, made a $265 million gift to the university. (credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University) Bill Dietrich poses with student leaders by the Fence after the ceremony announcing his donation. (credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University) Bill Dietrich poses with student leaders by the Fence after the ceremony announcing his donation. (credit: Courtesy of Carnegie Mellon University)

William S. Dietrich II, the former steel executive who recently donated $265 million to Carnegie Mellon, died late last night, according to the John A. Freyvogel Inc. funeral home. The cause of death was attributed to complications from his cancer. He was 73 years old.

Born in Pittsburgh, Dietrich made his fortune by transforming his father's small steel warehouse and distribution business, Dietrich Industries, into the nation's largest manufacturer of light metal framing for the construction industry. When Dietrich Industries was sold to Worthington Industries, Inc., in 1996, Dietrich remained a director until 2008.

Dietrich was an active member of the Pittsburgh community and served on the trustee boards for a variety of local institutions, including Carnegie Mellon, the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre, the UPMC Health System, and the University of Pittsburgh.

On Sept. 7, Dietrich announced that he would be making a $265 million donation to Carnegie Mellon in the form of a charitable remainder trust. “This university puts Pittsburgh on anybody’s world map of great research cities,” Dietrich said at the celebration of his donation in September. “Brilliant people come here as students and faculty, and their presence in our community adds something extraordinary.”

Near the end of September, Dietrich also donated $125 million to the University of Pittsburgh, the single largest gift in that school's history.