Connecting Silos: George Fonyo is Helping Save the World, One Connection at a Time

“I just have a wild imagination. I try to think of connections that people don’t think of.”

George Fonyo, 96, is trying to explain his success as one of the Danforth Center’s most successful ambassadors. George has introduced dozens of friends to the Danforth Center, many of whom go on to become donors themselves. He has been one of the Center’s most active supporters since the beginning.

George Fonyo, 96, portrait taken prior to Lab Sponsor Luncheon 2022. George often attends multiple events per day, a social schedule that would exhaust most younger people.

“I was here the first night. There were only about 50 people in the new building. Bill Danforth was talking, explaining how he and [the Garden’s] Peter Raven and [Monsanto’s] Virginia Weldon were flying on a red-eye and sketched the vision for the Center out on a napkin at the airport!”

A Life Spent Building

Born in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, George grew up in Clayton and attended Washington University in St. Louis. He spent most of his career in building products for the construction industry, most recently in aluminum curtain walls and flat panel cladding. He is gregarious by nature. He enjoys building up other people as much as he enjoys material construction. 

George has been a member of the Danforth Society since 2008 and has planned for the future of the Center by becoming a member of the WHD Legacy Society as well. He serves on the Danforth Center Friends Committee and speaks enthusiastically out in the community about the Danforth Center mission.

Beyond his wild imagination, George credits the mission of the Danforth Center for his zeal: “The Danforth Center mission appeals to me: critical solutions can all be done through plant science. If we’re not successful here, there’s just going to be a world of starvation. I won’t be here, but I worry about it for my grandchildren!”

Fonyo with Dr. Bill Danforth (center) and supporters Jim Johnson (left) and Jim Knight (right) at a 2015 Danforth Center event.

Be like George: Make a difference.

There are many ways to get involved at the Danforth Center. Visit to learn more.


A version of this story originally appeared in the Leaflet, the free newsletter of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center. Sign up to receive more stories like this straight to your inbox.