From his earliest days, David Altman doesn’t remember a world without Einstein, the place where all five of his children were born.

He and his late wife, Louise, developed a lifelong relationship with Einstein through Drs. Benjamin Chernoff and Edith Korentzwitt—married internal medicine physicians who were with Einstein for more than 50 years—as well as with their son, Arthur Chernoff, MD, who joined his parents’ practice in 1979 as an internist and endocrinologist. One of the Altmans’ sons, Steven, later became a member of Einstein’s Board of Overseers. That effort was just one of many ways he and other family members were able to meet their shared commitment of helping others through volunteerism and philanthropy.

“We all felt that if we could give something back, we would,” recalls Steven’s brother Brett. “Our family always believed in tzedekah (justice through giving), so we carried on that legacy.”

For years, few boundaries between work and personal life existed for the extended Altman family. Brett, Steven and a third brother, Daniel, were partners together in the Altman group— a development, contracting and property management firm established in 1993 as an outgrowth of the highly successful carpentry and drywall business their father had formed as a U.S. Marine World War II veteran.

But then their world turned upside-down in 2009, when three family members perished in an airplane crash. Piloted by Steven, who was joined by Daniel and his 15-year-old son, Douglas, the single-engine plane collided over the Hudson River with a sightseeing helicopter.

“It was a tremendous loss,” says David Altman. “We were very proud of them and what they were doing, of their abilities and whatever they would have done in the future.”

Before Louise’s death in May 2013, David and his wife decided to honor their memories by endowing the Steven, Daniel and Douglas Chair of Endocrinology at Einstein. Their choice for serving as the inaugural chair was none other than Dr. Arthur Chernoff, a decision the couple found as simple as it was personal.

“His father was a great guy and a good physician; we were close,” says David. “And he [Arthur] is a fine physician and a fine man himself, so who else would we choose?”

“It’s an extraordinary honor because it does something very few legacies do, which is to support ideas and programs rather than bricks and mortar or equipment and hardware,” notes Dr. Chernoff, a Philadelphia magazine “Top Doc” who specializes in arteriosclerosis, diabetes and thyroid disease. “It’s really a vote of confidence in my way of trying to be innovative while teaching what has become very old-fashioned today—the notion of taking care of the whole patient, one patient at a time.”

The endowment funds may be used for more extensive, systematic research or programs in danger of losing institutional funding.

“If clinical faculty members were to have a research idea that might not be sufficiently supported to do what they need to do, the endowment is a potential source of supplemental funding,” points out Dr. Chernoff.

“What one family member may be involved with is for the benefit of all,” says Brett, who along with partner Bob Bluth continues to manage the Altman Group. “Our parents really felt this gift was the best way to honor my brothers’ and nephew’s memories.”

Interested in making a tribute gift honoring someone special – a loved one, a caregiver, a physician or nurse? Visit the Tribute section of the Einstein Healthcare Network Web site or contact Ariel Belli (215) 456-6211 or email Ariel.Belli@jefferson.edu.