In 1979, Jerome H. Stone created The Alzheimer’s Association. On January 1, 2015, he passed away. Here is the story of the businessman and philanthropist whose legacy includes the world’s largest Alzheimer’s organization.
CHICAGO, Jan. 1, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Jerome H. Stone, businessman, philanthropist, founding president and honorary chair of the Alzheimer’s Association, died on January 1, 2015 in Chicago. Stone was 101-years old and lived an active and full life, splitting his time between Chicago and Palm Desert, California.
“We deeply mourn the loss of Jerry Stone. He was a visionary leader who shaped the Alzheimer’s Association and its mission through his character and commitment,” said Harry Johns, president and CEO, Alzheimer’s Association. “His passion to change the course of Alzheimer’s disease was inspiring from the start and galvanized community caregivers, people with the disease, researchers and advocates that the Alzheimer’s Association continues to work on behalf of and with today.”
Stone’s legacy is one of industry, family and philanthropy – especially in Chicago. Throughout the years, he helped build Stone Container Corporation into a multi-billion dollar firm, was chairman of Roosevelt University’s Board of Trustees for 15 years, helped select the site for Chicago’s main library, was a co-founder of the Catholic-Jewish Dialogue Group and was responsible for raising most of the $72 million the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago received to construct a building seven times larger than its previous facility. At the intersection of Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street, not far from the location of the former Stone Container building in downtown Chicago, people are continually reminded of everything Stone has done for his city: In 2001, the City of Chicago hung a street sign proclaiming the intersection as Honorary Jerome H. Stone Way.
He rose to international prominence through his groundbreaking work to conquer Alzheimer’s. When his wife, Evelyn, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 1970, Stone recognized the need for a leader in the field that would unite caregivers, provide support to those facing Alzheimer’s, and advance research toward methods of treatment, prevention and, ultimately, a cure. His drive and determination led to the creation of the Alzheimer’s Association in 1979.
According to interviews with Stone, when his late wife, Evelyn, was first diagnosed, he searched intensely to find a cause, a cure and relief. There was nothing available except a few modest support groups. Indeed, at the time, minimal information about Alzheimer’s, a progressive and fatal brain disease, was found in medical textbooks and journals.
Undaunted, Stone inquired about Alzheimer’s research efforts and learned of a meeting of seven independent groups interested in forming a national Alzheimer’s organization. In 1979, Stone joined those groups, comprised of researchers, physicians, caregivers and other humanitarians from around the country, to discuss possible solutions to the growing need for information, care and, ultimately, a cure for Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The group met again on December 4, 1979, in what would become the first official meeting of the Alzheimer’s Association; Stone was elected the founding president.
Stone actively lobbied for Alzheimer’s research funding and changes in public policy. His meetings with former President Ronald Reagan in 1983 led to the creation of a task force to oversee and coordinate scientific research for Alzheimer’s. That same year, he was instrumental in working with the president and Congress to have November designated as National Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month, which is still observed today. In 1986, President Reagan presented Stone with the President’s Volunteer Award in recognition of his work in the fight against Alzheimer’s.
“Jerry’s passion for the cause was evident from our first conversation. He called me and said, ‘You don’t know me, but I know who you are and I know of your mother (Rita Hayworth), and we have something in common,” said Princess Yasmin Aga Khan, honorary vice chair of the Alzheimer’s Association National Board of Directors, who founded the Rita Hayworth Galas in honor of her mother who died of Alzheimer’s. “He told me that his wife had Alzheimer’s disease and asked me to have lunch. Jerry was an inspiration, an amazing man, a true leader and friend. He was my hero.”
Stone’s dedication to the cause has led to the evolution of the Alzheimer’s Association into the largest and most influential global organization working to advance care, support and research across the world. From face-to face support to online education programs and promising worldwide research initiatives, the Alzheimer’s Association is the only organization with the reach, magnitude and drive to achieve a vision of a world without Alzheimer’s disease. The Association furthers its mission by:
- Advancing Research – Through partnerships and funded projects, the Association has been a part of every major research advancement during the past 30 years. Its peer-reviewed research grant program has awarded more than $335 million to over 2,250 proposals. In fiscal year 2014, the Alzheimer’s Association International Research Grant Program awarded more than $13.3 million in funding to 75 investigators, part of the nearly 350 ongoing research projects funded by the Alzheimer’s Association in 20 countries, totaling over $70 million.
- Enhancing Care and Support – Global, national and local initiatives to enhance care and support for all those affected by Alzheimer’s and other dementias. Outreach efforts include local chapters across the nation, a 24/7 Helpline, a clinical trial matching service, support groups, education programs and safety services. In fiscal year 2014, the Alzheimer’s Association provided services and support to nearly 3 million individuals.
- Advocacy – The Association rallied thousands of advocates to ensure the passage of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act, establishing the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease, and continues to work on behalf of all those affected by the disease to achieve effective implementation of the plan. To do so, the Association executes strategies to develop relationships with state and federal policymakers, mobilizes Alzheimer’s advocates and coordinates activities with a sister organization, the Alzheimer’s Impact Movement.
Stone is survived by his wife Marion, and his three children Jim Stone (of Winnetka), Ellen Stone Belic (the late Nenad Belic) and Cynthia Stone Raskin (of Chicago) and seven grandchildren Meg, Emily, Phoebe, John, Dara, Julie, Maia and four great-grandchildren Annabel, Alexa, Joey and Oliver.
Services for Stone will be Tuesday, January 6, 2015 at North Shore Congregation Israel, 1185 Sheridan Road, Glencoe, IL at 11 AM. After the service, burial will be at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights, for additional information about services please contact Chicago Jewish Funeral Home at 847-229-8822. In lieu of flowers the family has requested that donations be made to the Alzheimer’s Association. To make a gift, please visit the Mr. Stone tribute page: alz.org/jeromestone.
About the Alzheimer’s Association®
The Alzheimer’s Association is the world’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support and research. Our mission is to eliminate Alzheimer’s disease through the advancement of research, to provide and enhance care and support for all affected, and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health. Our vision is a world without Alzheimer’s. For more information, visit alz.org.
SOURCE: Alzheimer’s Association