Sheldon Announces $3 Million Gift From Will and Ann Lee Konneker

The Sheldon is honored to announce that long-time board member Wilfred Konneker, who passed away in 2016, and his wife Ann Lee, who passed away in 2020, have bequeathed a $3 million gift to The Sheldon for special improvement projects.

Major updates will begin in December 2021 with the remodel and renaming of the 650 person-capacity Louis Spiering Room, which will be renamed “The Konneker Room” in honor of the beloved couple. This donation is the largest individual gift ever made to The Sheldon.

“The Konnekers’ generosity over the past 25 years helped shape The Sheldon into the important cultural institution it is today,” says Sheldon Board Chair Jim Watson. “This donation is transformational and will allow The Sheldon to make exciting improvements that will create an even more welcoming experience for our guests. We look forward to using this gift to extend the Konnekers’ amazing legacy.”

Sheldon Executive Director Peter Palermo adds, “Everyone should know what the Konnekers did for the St. Louis community. Their longtime, foundational support for organizations like The Sheldon, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, COCA, the Saint Louis Art Museum and more will continue to enhance our city’s culture for generations to come.”


Additional improvement projects, scheduled to be completed over the next three-five years, include:

  • Upgrades to the sound and lighting technology in the concert hall
  • New exterior lighting and signage
  • A remodel of the Kemper Atrium lobby and gallery spaces
  • Improvements in office and administrative spaces
  • The construction of a recording and podcast studio beneath the concert hall

Will and Ann Lee Konneker

Will Konneker joined the Sheldon Arts Foundation board in 1997 and served for 19 years, including 3 years as chair, from 2001-2004, when he spearheaded a $3 million capital campaign for the organization.

Married for 70 years, Will and Ann Lee moved to St. Louis in the 1940s, where Will earned a doctorate in nuclear physics from Washington University in 1950. He went on to launch several successful companies in St. Louis, and together he and Ann Lee fostered their philanthropic endeavors, born out of a shared love of music, art, nature, education and travel.

The Konnekers supported organizations throughout St. Louis and across the country, including the Center of Contemporary Arts (COCA), Dance Saint Louis, the Missouri Botanical Garden, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the St. Louis Symphony, The Sheldon, Saint Louis Art Museum, Missouri History Museum, the St. Louis Zoo, Washington University, Ohio University and The Ohio State University.