When it comes to New Orleans philanthropy, few can match the generosity of Edith Stern, who died Sept. 11, 1980 — 35 years ago this week. Born in Chicago, she was the daughter of Sears, Roebuck & Co. President Julius Rosenwald, himself a noted philanthropist. She and husband Edgar Bloom Stern, a New Orleans native whom she married in 1921, both realized the importance of sharing their personal wealth. Major recipients of their generosity included the New Orleans Museum of Art, the New Orleans Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and Dillard University, which the couple helped establish.
The Sterns also were active in voter education and registration efforts and Jewish causes. They founded the Newcomb Nursery School and Metairie Park Country Day School, as well as Flint-Goodridge Hospital and WDSU-TV. The family home, Longue Vue House and Gardens, is a national historic landmark, named after the Hudson River inn where the Sterns became engaged. They both were honored with The Times-Picayune Loving Cup. In 1977, the States-Item named the Sterns the city's leading philanthropists of the past hundred years, noting, "Every city should have its own Sterns."