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Agnes Varis (born Agnes Koulouvaris; January 11, 1930 – July 29, 2011) was founder and president of Agvar Chemicals Inc. and Aegis Pharmaceuticals.

Agnes Varis (*)

Born in Lowell, Massachusetts, Varis was the only child of eight to attend college. She earned her degree in Chemistry and English from Brooklyn College. She attended New York University's Stern School of Business.

In 1970, aged 40, she started Agvar Chemicals and co-founded Marsam Pharmaceuticals in 1985. She became the founder and President of Aegis Pharmaceuticals in 1992. Ms. Varis was appointed by President Barack Obama to the PCAH committee, which encompassed 26 leading citizens from the private sector with an interest in and commitment to the humanities and the arts.

Its members also included twelve federal members whose agencies had cultural programs, such as the National Endowments for the Arts and the Humanities, the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the U. S. Department of Education, the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the National Gallery of Art and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.[1]

Humanitarian causes

In 2004 Dr. Varis became involved with The Jazz Foundation of America. Her work with the Jazz Foundation includes providing funding and creating employment opportunities for America's elderly jazz and blues musicians.[2]

Through her work in response to Hurricane Katrina, in 2006 the Jazz Foundation of America established the Agnes Varis/Musicians in the Schools Program, first reaching out to displaced New Orleans musicians and subsequently employing more than 1000 musicians in eight states, including some 120 elderly jazz and blues musicians performing free concerts in New York City public schools, hospitals and nursing homes.[3] In 2009, then Lieutenant Governor of Louisiana, Mitch Landrieu, presented Varis with the coveted "Saint of the Century" Award at the Jazz Foundation of America's annual benefit concert, A Great Night in Harlem, at the Apollo Theater.[

She was a resident of New York City, and active in Democratic political campaigns. In 2004, she was the 24th largest individual contributor to 527 groups, donating over USD $2,000,000 to pro-Democrat groups. Ted Leonsis, owner of the Washington Capitals NHL franchise and Washington Wizards NBA franchise was her cousin.[4]


Agnes Varis died at her home in New York City on July 29, 2011, aged 81.[4] The cause of death was cancer.[5]


^ Archive. "President Obama Appoints Members to Serve on the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities | President's Committee on the Arts and the Humanities". Pcah.gov. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
^ "Jazz Foundation of America | Agnes Varis Jazz in the Schools Program". Jazzfoundation.org. 2001-09-11. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
^ jazzjournalists.org. Oct-05-09. URL:http://www.jazzjournalists.org/agnes-varis. Accessed: Oct-05-09. (Archived by Jazz Journalists Association at http://www.jazzjournalists.org/agnes-varis)
^ a b Fox, Margalit (2011-08-02). "Agnes Varis, Founder of Drug Company, Dies at 81". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-08-03.
^ Hoelterhoff, Manuela (2011-03-01). "Pharma Mogul Turned Opera Philanthropist Dies After Career ’Doing Good’". Bloomberg. Retrieved 2011-08-03.

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