Partners in Life and Philanthropy

Dr. Gerald Jonas Friedman and Dorothy Ross Friedman

Reviewing the life work of Gerald Jonas Friedman and Dorothy Ross Friedman, one is reminded of the proverb, "It is better to give than to receive." The Friedmans' lives have been devoted to giving to others, with their gift to name Tufts University School of Nutrition and Science Policy the most current example of their generosity.

Their relationship began more than half a century ago. During his medical residency at Bellevue Hospital, Dr. Friedman, now 87, played the saxophone and had his own band. It was through music that he met Dorothy Ross, a Boston-born jazz pianist and recording artist who performed professionally in New York City. Five weeks after that first encounter, the Friedmans married. Their niece, Jane Friedman, director of the Gerald J. and Dorothy R. Friedman New York Foundation for Medical Research, notes that her aunt has often quipped, "We married 55 years ago. Do you think it's going to last?" Dorothy Friedman continued her professional career until her husband finished his residency.

After Dr. Friedman served as commanding officer of the 222nd Station Hospital in World War II, the couple settled into their lives in New York City, where Friedman began a medical career that would span more than 55 years. He retired in 1992.

In addition to being "one of the builders of the field of clinical nutrition," as Dr. Irwin H. Rosenberg, dean for nutrition sciences, describes him, Friedman's specialties included cardiology, diabetes and metabolism, endocrinology and internal medicine. Friedman was a physician at Bellevue Hospital, University Hospital and Beth Israel Medical Center, where in 1975 the Gerald J. Friedman, M.D., Medical Intensive Care Unit was dedicated in his honor. In addition to serving as chief of the Medical Intensive Care Unit at Beth Israel, Friedman also was chief of metabolism and endocrinology and chief of diabetes and metabolism.

Diabetes was one of Friedman's lifelong interests. Besides holding every position in the New York Diabetes Association, he and his wife helped the association establish a camp for children with diabetes. The Friedmans were ahead of their time in recognizing that life was unique for children with a chronic disease. As their niece notes, in the 1950s "Camp NYDA, a nontraditional summer camp, was important because it helped children learn to manage their disease and live normal, independent lives."

Friedman had a particular interest in industrial medicine and employee health-another example of his progressive thinking-because these were not areas of mainstream concern among physicians then. Friedman was instrumental in changing how diabetics in the workplace were treated. In 1957, he became the international medical director for United Parcel Service, a position he would hold for 33 years.

Friedman's professional memberships were numerous, as were his publications, including articles in medical journals and several chapters in pioneering nutrition texts in the 1960s.

Perhaps most striking about Friedman's medical career was his approach to his patients, or as his niece expresses it, "his interest in caring and nurturing." Indeed, Friedman was known for his thoroughness, spending hours with a patient, paying attention to all aspects of his or her health. His emphasis on nutrition was unique for the time: All of his patients left his office with a pragmatic diet in hand. "My uncle believed that nutrition played a major role in one's health," reflects Jane Friedman. She also recalls her uncle never turning away patients, regardless of their ability to pay the bill.

As a couple, the Friedmans shared this value of volunteerism. In addition to her work with the New York Diabetes Association, Dorothy Friedman was an active volunteer at Beth Israel Medical Center. Their commitment extended to other community activities, including Dr. Friedman's service as longtime president of the Brotherhood Synagogue Congregation in New York at various times over a period of 15 years and receiving the Torch of Learning Award given by the American Friends of the Hebrew University.

In 1992, the Friedmans, who still live in New York City, established their foundation. Their philanthropy to Tufts University has been exceptional, with Tufts receiving three of the 30 endowments given by the foundation this year. As their niece puts it so aptly, "We are honored to support such extraordinary efforts and look forward to a continuing relationship with the University."






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