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Samuel Y. "Sy" Birnbaum

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BAUM   Samuel Y. "Sy" Birnbaum, 93, of New Britain and Boca Raton, FL, businessman and philanthropist, died Thursday (March 21, 2002). Born in New Britain, Sy was the son of the late Morris and Pauline (Levi) Birnbaum. He was an Army veteran of World War II. He leaves his sister, Ida R. Blum of West Hartford/Farmington; and his nephew, Richard Blum and his wife, Kendy Blum of West Hartford. He was predeceased by two sisters, Helen Birnbaum and Dorothy Bluestein; and by a brother, Ben Birnbaum. Sy and his sister were partners in The Birnbaum's Main Corner Lee in New Britain, which they took over in 1932, from their father, Morris, who established the business in 1899. Sy was a life time benefactor in the medical field. In 1946 he was named corporator at New Britain General Hospital and then from 1967 to 1983 he served on the Board of Directors. He participated on many committees and established scholarships at the New Britain General Hospital School of Nursing. In 1983, Sy was named director emeritus. In 1987, the hospital emergency department was dedicated to Samuel "Sy" Birnbaum in recognition of his generosity, both personally and of his resources. In 1990 Sy and his sister Ida, her late husband Louis Blum, and Sy's nephew Richard Blum, generously endowed a one million dollar chair at the University of Connecticut Health Center to advance treatment and research in the Department of Psychiatry. Announcement was made at the Bushnell Auditorium as part of the Health Center's 30th Anniversary celebration. The evening featured a new contemporary composition for orchestra and chorus written especially for the occasion by Dave Brubeck. Another recognition of Sy's philanthropy which benefitted both the residents of New Britain and the larger community in north central Connecticut was the presentation of an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the 1993 Commencement at the University of Connecticut Health Center. At the age of seven, Sy sacrificed his own education to begin working in his father's store. In the words of then University of Connecticut President Harry Hartley, "Sy Birnbaum, you may have been unable to attend college yourself, but that hardly prevented you from becoming an astute student of the human condition and from using your wisdom for the betterment of society, especially in the field of health care". In 1978, Sy was named director emeritus of the Central Connecticut Association for Retarded Children, Inc., an organization to which he gave generously. Sy was also a former director of New Britain Memorial Hospital, receiving his appointment from then Governor Abraham Ribicoff and represented the State on the Board. In addition, he was a former director of the New Britain Boys Club, Resurrection House and the Jewish Association for Community Living, Hartford. In December 1991, Town and Country magazine included Sy in their annual roster of major contributors to art, science, scholarship and the humanities. He was a member of Temple B'nai Israel and Congregation Tephereth Israel, both of New Britain, and Beth El of Boca Raton, FL. Funeral services will be held TODAY, March 24, 10:30 a.m. in the Chapel of the Weinstein Mortuary, 640 Farmington Ave., Hartford, with interment in Beth Alom Cemetery, New Britain. A memorial period will be observed at the home of his sister, Ida R. Blum, 120 Wood Pond Road, Farmington, TODAY following the funeral. Memorial contributions may be made to any of the Synagogues or charities that Mr. Birnbaum was identified with.
Published in The Hartford Courant from Mar. 23 to Mar. 24, 2002
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