Curtis honors Chairman Emeritus Gerry Lenfest (1930–2018)
A visionary and leader whose generosity inspired us all, H.F. “Gerry” Lenfest, played an extraordinary role in the history of Curtis. Today Curtis mourns his passing on Sunday, August 5 at age 88, and remembers the transformational effect he had on the school during his tenure as Board Chairman from 2006 to 2014.
Along with his wife Marguerite, Mr. Lenfest generated innumerable ideas for Curtis, spurred by his love of the arts and the students of Curtis in particular, many of whom developed lasting relationships with the Lenfests. His infectious enthusiasm and whole-hearted embrace of an artistic and institutional vision has and will continue to inspire others.
During Mr. Lenfest’s tenure, Curtis began to create 21st-century opportunities for students, including new programs, artist residencies, and multi-disciplinary, all-school projects; a campus that doubled in size with the opening of Lenfest Hall, with state-of-the-art facilities and a home for our magnificent orchestra; a specialized fitness and conditioning program and enhanced student services; housing for half the student body; and expanded global outreach through Curtis on Tour, online courses and videos, and a new menu of summer programs.
Curtis owes a profound debt of gratitude to Mr. Lenfest and extends deepest condolences to his wife and partner in all things, Marguerite, and his children, Diane, Chase, and Brook. The fabric of Curtis will always include the Lenfests, forever benefitting future generations of Curtis students and music itself.
“Gerry was inspirational to the community at large, not just to the trustees, but to all of us —students, faculty, and staff. He was a wonderful example of what it's all about, which is giving back. His legacy is about so much more than Curtis, however. Through all of the institutions and causes that he and Marguerite were willing to support, directly and indirectly, he set an example for us all in his commitment to improving the lives of others. I can't imagine anybody more dedicated to improving their community.”
—Roberto Díaz, President and CEO
"Gerry was a role model to any responsible citizen of our community. He represented the best in giving back, but also strongly encouraged others to follow his example. It is because of his reaching out that I now consider him my mentor as I serve as Chairman of the Board of Curtis. I will deeply miss his special friendship.”
—Mark E. Rubenstein, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
We remember the warm smile and boundless generosity of Mr. Lenfest in this photo collection.
Gerry Lenfest and Roberto Díaz cut the ceremonial banner at the opening of Lenfest Hall in 2013. From left to right: Gary Steuer, chief cultural officer of the City of Philadelphia; former Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter; Roberto Díaz; Gerry Lenfest; Marguerite Lenfest; Elizabeth Warshawer
Gerry Lenfest and Roberto Díaz look over plans for Lenfest Hall in 2011.
Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest pose in the Bok Room with fellowship students Erika Gray (Viola) and Janice Carissa (Piano).
Gerry and Marguerite Lenfest, with fellowship students Erika Gray and Janice Carissa, President Díaz, and guitar student Hao Yang, at a dinner in their honor in 2017. Among Mr. Lenfest's many contributions to Curtis was his support of the new guitar program, which began in 2013.
Gerry Lenfest speaks with Baroness Nina von Maltzahn at a Curtis on Tour event in Berlin. Baroness von Maltzahn succeeded Mr. Lenfest as chair of the Curtis board of trustees in 2014.
President Díaz penned this tribute to Mr. Lenfest upon his retirement as Board Chairman.
This obituary by Peter Dobrin details Mr. Lenfest's remarkable life and contributions.
In lieu of flowers, the Lenfest family has asked that tribute gifts be made to institutions including the Curtis Institute of Music.