April 7, 2008 (Vol. 7, No. 6)
Monroe Lovinger, 1907 - 2008:
A Philanthropist Who Never Forgot His Native Bronx
Monroe Lovinger, a retired accountant who worked his way through college, built a successful practice, and then became a staunch and generous supporter of those in need, died on April 14 at his home in Manhattan. He was 101.
Among the causes he espoused were the students of Lehman College of his native Bronx, where he and his late wife, Rose, established a scholarship fund to assist those studying education, nursing and the health sciences. Their gifts to the College over the years totaled more than $400,000. In 1992, in recognition of their generosity, the College named its 500-seat theatre in honor of the couple. He also was a member of the board of directors of the Lehman College Foundation through 2002 and encouraged others to make similar philanthropic gifts to the College.
"We wanted to assist the people in New York who need the most help in obtaining an education," he said at the time.
Mr. Lovinger and his wife had worked together on philanthropic causes since they were married in 1951. Their beneficiaries, in addition to Lehman, included the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Calvary Hospital in the Bronx, Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan, and Bar-Ilan University in Israel, where they established a chair in mathematical science. In 1964, Mr. Lovinger helped found Regional Aid for Interim Needs (RAIN), a multi-service community organization that provides services and programs to meet the needs of New York City's older, disabled or homebound population.
It was Mr. Lovinger's struggle to earn his degree and the hard-life lessons he learned as a young man during the Great Depression that motivated his philanthropic work.
In his youth, Mr. Lovinger helped to support his sister and widowed mother, working during the day as an optician and real-estate salesman and finishing Morris High School and then City College at night—a regimen that stretched his education over a ten-year period. In 1932, after graduating from college and earning his C.P.A. license, he opened what became a successful accounting firm on 149th Street in the Bronx, which later moved to Fordham Road and the Grand Concourse. His partner was Meyer Levine, whom he had met in college when they were seated in alphabetical order next to one another. Both men retired in 1979.
"The College is deeply saddened by the loss of not just one of our greatest benefactors, but of a warm and true friend," said Lehman College President Ricardo R. Fernández, who noted that a particularly strong and enduring relationship had developed between the couple and many of the students whose education they supported.
"The Lovingers were always delighted to meet the students being helped by their gifts," he said, "and were inspired by both the challenges they faced and their dreams for the future. Our students, meanwhile, were touched by their outreach and encouraged by their genuine concern and understanding."
Although Mr. Lovinger had hired a number of Lehman graduates for his firm, the connection with the College was made in 1980 through a family friend, Dr. Glen Nygreen, who was the College's vice president of student affairs. From Dr. Nygreen he learned that "there were many bright students at Lehman who were motivated and who needed help. I know what poor people have to go through…I know it's not easy."
A member of the Bronx Rotary Club since 1973, Mr. Lovinger served on its Board of Directors and as a trustee of the Bronx Rotary Foundation. He received the Silver Jubilee Humanitarian Award from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, which named him a founder of the College, and was honored with his wife by Bar Ilan University. He was also a trustee and treasurer of Union Hospital, which is now a community health center administered by St. Barnabas Hospital.
Mr. Lovinger is predeceased by his wife, who died in May 2005. Entombment was on Wednesday, April 16, at the Sanctuary of Abraham and Sarah in Cedar Park Cemetery, Paramus, N.J.