Eleanor R. Gerson
Eleanor Bertha Rosenfeld Gerson was born in New York City on July 6, 1915, to Edward and Bertha
Rosenfeld. In the mid-1920′s, the Rosenfelds moved to Cleveland, Ohio. Bertha already had a
connection to Northeast Ohio, graduating from Western Reserve University’s College for Women in
1903 with a Bachelor of Letters. After Eleanor finished her studies at Hathaway Brown School in
Shaker Heights, Ohio, in 1933, she headed east to attend Smith College in Northhampton,
Massachusetts. In 1937, Eleanor completed her studies, earning a Bachelor of Arts in History.
Shortly after graduating from Smith College, Eleanor married Benjamin S. Gerson in 1938. The
marriage resulted in the birth of four children, Jill, Margaret, Judith, and Thomas. Benjamin
passed away in July 1973.
Returning to her mother’s alma mater on an irregular basis beginning in 1955, Eleanor received a
Master of Arts in American Studies from Western Reserve University in 1962. Eleanor further
continued her studies at W.R.U., and in 1966 she earned a Master of Science in Social
Administration from the School of Applied Social Sciences.
Later in Eleanor’s life, the Gerson family became active philanthropists in Northeast Ohio.
Through the various Gerson foundations, such as the Benjamin S. Gerson Family Foundation, Eleanor
Gerson Supporting Fund, Eleanor Gerson Philanthropic Fund, and Gerson-Margolis Foundation, Eleanor
and her family supported a wide range of activities in Ohio, as well as elsewhere in the United
States. In particular, Eleanor was interested in the quality of life and education of children,
assisting financially and through her own work.
Eleanor was especially involved with the School of Magnolia, located in Cleveland. She first
became interested in the school in 1973 and would later serve as its president and board chairman.
In 1982 it was renamed in her honor. An accredited high school, the Eleanor Gerson School provides
students an alternative to the public school environment.
Eleanor passed away on October 20, 2000, at the age of 85.
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