The Sunderland Foundation, which is based in Kansas City, was established in 1945 by Lester T. Sunderland.
The son of Reverend James and Mary Elizabeth Partridge Sunderland, Lester T. Sunderland was born October 24, 1867 in Vinton, Iowa. He left school at age 14 to work in the coal business in Ottumwa. He later completed his education at the Pillsbury Academy in Owatonna, Minnesota. In 1887, Lester joined his older brother James A. Sunderland at the Sunderland Brothers Company selling coal and building materials in Omaha, Nebraska.
In 1909, Lester left Sunderland Brothers and moved to Kansas City to become vice president and general manager of the Ash Grove Lime and Portland Cement Company. He became president of the company in 1913, a position he held until 1946. He then served as chairman of the executive committee. As a leader in the cement industry, Lester T. Sunderland was active in the Portland Cement Association affairs throughout his career, including serving as its president in 1921 and 1922. He died on August 3, 1955, at his home in Kansas City.
Throughout his long career, Lester T. Sunderland was a generous contributor to religious, educational, art and music activities. In 1945, he established the Lester T. Sunderland Foundation, now known as the Sunderland Foundation. Upon his death he left his estate to the Foundation. Two of his sons, Allan B. Sunderland (1900-1956) and Paul Sunderland (1896-2004), both former officers of the Ash Grove Cement Company, were also substantial contributors.
The Sunderland Foundation continues to be managed by Lester T. Sunderland’s descendents.