The Roth Endowment grew out of love, personal and professional admiration, and an outpouring of grief after Lois Roth’s untimely death in early 1986—all of which were in stark evidence at memorial service held for her at the Kennedy Center, in Washington DC. Spearheaded by her husband, the cultural diplomat Richard T. Arndt, the idea of the Endowment soon brought together friends and family to contribute funds and create prizes and programs that would carry Lois’ memory, values and work forward in time.
The first award instituted was project support for an American Fulbrighter working in Sweden. A substantial bequest from long-time friend Anne O. Thomson soon helped extend this support, establishing two annual Roth-Thomson Awards each for Finland and Sweden. The Endowment’s first award for translation, the Prix Coindreau, brought to fruition an idea first discussed at a lunch hosted by Lois and Dick Arndt, when they were stationed in Paris in 1980. The bequest of Faye Cousens Carroll, in memory of her husband, Martin C. Carroll Jr., funds Australian project support. A major gift from Elizabeth Kostova supports the annual Dyankov Translation Award and Sozopol Fiction Seminars. The Endowment is also grateful to Mim Johnston Hallock for the living bequest she has made in memory of her husband, Richard.
For many years, the Endowment relied on the efforts of a small Board of Directors made up of LRE founders—including such luminaries as Evelyn Swarthout Hayes and Drs. Steven Muller and Robin Winks—with Dick Arndt as Chair. As projects multiplied and holdings rose, new Board members were added starting in the late-1990s. In recent years, the Board has undergone an increased number of changes, including the addition of younger members and the able two-year tenure of Jill E. McGovern as Chair in 2011-12. In 2014, Skyler J. Arndt-Briggs—Dick’s daughter and Lois’ stepdaughter—took over as Chair of the Board.