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'There is no one like Michael' | Centene leader remembered for generosity and contributions to St. Louis

"We are beyond grateful for all that he's done, we will take it upon ourselves to take that torch for generations to come."

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. — He led a fortune 500 company and was a fierce leader in the philanthropic world.

Michael Neidorff, the former CEO of Centene, died Thursday at the age of 79, after a long illness.

From his leadership in the business world to his love of philanthropic work, Neidorff was one of a kind.

Neidorff became the CEO of Centene in 1996. In his 25 years, Neidorff helped the company grow from a $40 million, single-health plan to a $125 billion company with 25 million customers. 

Credit: Eric Dundon

Down the street from Centene is another institute feeling the ripple effects of his work. The Neidorffs were apart of the Kol Rinah congregation for years. It's one of the many places touched by their generosity.

"Our Early Childhood Center needed to move and we could only move it if we had the resources to build that space here and the Neidorffs were so generous to give this gift to make that possible," Rabbi Noah Arnow said.

The center opened this school year with an enrollment of 60 children.

They changed the name to the Monica Lynne Neidorff Early Childhood Center, after their daughter passed away in 2021.

We're told investing in education and in the future was important for Neidorff. 

That's why he was also a part of the Greater St. Louis Boy Scouts Of America and served on the board for more than 30 years. Neidorff served as the Chair of Board of Directors for a number of years, as well.

Joe Sadewasser is the CEO at Greater St. Louis Area Council, Boy Scouts Of America.

He said, "He saw the potential of children and what they can achieve through scouting. One of the things I admired most about Michael is his ability to inspire people to make our community and our world better."

Credit: Dave Chambliss

Neidorff also had a passion for the arts, especially music.

He became involved with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra in the 80's and has been apart of it ever since.

Marie-Helene Bernard, the President and CEO of St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, said, "Michael Neidorff is unique, there is no one like Michael. He understood leadership like no one and that is his legacy really."

"Michael was our board chair in the 90's and he lead important decisions in the time of the 90's when there were a lot of changes in our industry," Bernard said. "To this day, he was on the board as a life trustee and also a member of our endowment trust. It’s really the end of a remarkable era and we owe it to his family to continue his memory and celebrate life that he led."

These were his roles during his time there:

  • Vice Chairman for Public Affairs, Board of Trustees 1991-1992
  • Vice Chairman for Development, Board of Trustees 1992-1994
  • Chairman of the Board 1994-1996
  • Was subsequently named Lifetime Trustee
  • His wife Noémi is a Vice Chair of the Board now

Neidorff also served as chairman of the board of trustees for the National Urban League on the board of Concordance Academy. He was also a trustee for the Opera Theatre of St. Louis and Treasurer of the Kennedy Center Board of Trustees, as well.

Neidorff actively worked with the Urban League's St. Louis affiliate. He was a mentor to current President Michael McMillan.

Credit: Pat Washington

 "Mr. Neidorff's commitment to the Urban League, to our core mission and values, was sincere and deeply held. He was always our champion," McMillan said.

Neidorff left his mark everywhere he went. It's no doubt, his passion and his leadership will continue to live on.

"We are beyond grateful for all that he's done, we will take it upon ourselves to take that torch for generations to come," Sadewasser said.

In 2017, Neidroff was awarded the St. Louis Post Dispatch's Citizen of the Year for leading a $30 million investment in the city of Ferguson following the unrest of 2014.

In a statement, the Neirdoff family said memorial donations in his name can be sent to the Siteman Cancer Center, the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, or a charity of your choice. 

A private family service will be held and in a later date, a public one will happen to celebrate his life.


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