National Parkinson Foundation Celebrates the Life of Nathan Slewett, 97, Chairman Emeritus

Release date: 7/7/2010

MIAMI — July 7, 2010 — The National Parkinson Foundation’s Chairman Emeritus, Mr. Nathan Slewett, passed away on July 7, at age 97. Mr. Slewett spent more than 40 years as a tireless volunteer leader and supporter of the National Parkinson Foundation and has left an indelible mark on the lives he has touched through his personal philanthropy.

Seven months ago, Mr. Slewett received two prestigious honors in recognition of his contributions to Parkinson’s disease research and treatment. The World Federation of Neurology (WFN) chose Miami as the location for its XVII World Congress on Parkinson’s Disease and Related Disorders in order to honor him for his dedication. Coinciding with the opening ceremony of the congress, the Miami-Dade Board of County Commissioners declared December 13, 2009 as “Nathan Slewett Day” for his contributions to the Parkinson’s community, as well as the South Florida community.

Mr. Slewett became involved with NPF after relocating his family in the 1950s to Miami from New York, where he was a successful attorney and real estate developer. Mr. Slewett had planned to retire, spend time with his family and play golf. Instead, he began fundraising for the NPF on the golf course. According to Nathan, the driving force behind his decision to become involved with NPF was, “to pay back to society all the good things provided to me and my family.” He served as the volunteer President of the foundation for several years and was elected Chairman of the Board, in 1992, and continued to serve as Chairman Emeritus until 2010. Mr. Slewett came into the Miami office every single day of his 40-year tenure.

“To those who knew him, Nathan Slewett was a vital force of nature, stronger and more vibrant than his years would suggest,” said Joyce Oberdorf, President and Chief Executive Officer of NPF. “He was a visionary whose shrewd business sense and concern for others touched many people’s lives. We are indebted to Nathan for his unwavering commitment not only to research, but also to care for those living with Parkinson’s.”

Slewett succeeded at bringing in celebrities such as Bob Hope and Dick Clark to annual fundraising events. He took on this important role after befriending NPF’s founder, Mrs. Jeanne Levey, without compensation and without any personal or familial connection to the disease. His accomplishments during his tenure are remarkable—because of his leadership, the National Parkinson Foundation has: funded more than $155 million in research and support services since 1982; established a Centers of Excellence network housed at leading universities throughout the world; given many prominent researchers and scientists their start in the field through grant funding; and garnered international recognition.

“Nathan did not jut raise awareness and funds for Parkinson’s research and education; he inspired others to do the same with his boundless energy and commitment, coupled with his irresistible personal charm,” said Joseph Jankovic, M.D., Medical Director of the NPF Center of Excellence at Baylor College of Medicine. “Although it is difficult to appreciate the full impact he has had on the search for a cure of Parkinson’s, his enormous contributions have clearly translated into improved quality of life for countless patients and their families. Nathan’s constant quest for excellence in education, research and patient care have inspired other organizations and support groups around the globe.

Although devoted to NPF, Nathan’s leadership and philanthropy also benefitted several Jewish organizations in South Florida. He was the founder of Boys Town/Jerusalem, a trustee of Temple Beth Sholom and a member of the Society of Fellows of the Anti-Defamation League. He was recognized as Volunteer of the Year by Association of Fundraising Professionals and was awarded the 2001 Presidential Order of Merit by the University of Miami.

“Few individuals will achieve all that Nathan Slewett has achieved in his lifetime. This man was an outstanding citizen and was a role model to many in the South Florida community,” said Bernard J. Fogel, M.D., NPF’s current Chairman of the Board.

Although he did not live to see a cure for Parkinson’s disease, his legacy lives on in the many researchers and neurologists whose careers started because of Nathan Slewett.

Mr. Slewett is survived by his partner, Rhoda Goodman; his son, Alan M. Slewett; his daughter-in-law Sheila Slewett; his four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

View a short video on Nathan’s life and work: