The memory of Sam Seifter was honored by the Einstein community during a special memorial held at Lubin Dining Hall this winter. Dr. Seifter, who was a member of Einstein's founding faculty and a beloved mentor and colleague, passed away in February 2009.
Remembering Sam Seifter The room was filled with people from all facets of the Einstein community, along with members of the Seifter family. With posters featuring enlargements of Dr. Seifter’s poetry set on easels throughout the room and a display of his prized dried flower arrangements, the event celebrated all aspects of the man everyone – colleagues, students and staff – called Sam. The evening featured remembrances delivered by 14 friends, colleagues, and family members, including a video recording from Dr. Gerald Graham, a longstanding friend and colleague of more than 60 years, who lives in London.
The event commenced with an introduction by Dr. Vern Schramm, professor and the Ruth Merns Chair of Biochemistry, who served as master of ceremonies. He noted that, after succeeding Dr. Seifter as chair, he was able to fully appreciate the legacy that Sam had left behind. Dr. Schramm’s introduction was followed by an address by Dr. Edward R. Burns, who had worked with Dr. Seifter as an undergraduate at Yeshiva University and had formed a bond that lasted throughout his career as a faculty member at Einstein.
Dr. Robin Briehl shared how lucky he was to have formed a relationship with Dr. Seifter and how much he enjoyed working with Sam on issues that improved the quality of life at Einstein, while Dr. Valiere Alcena expressed how he owed his career to Dr. Seifter and how lucky he was to have Dr. Seifter as his mentor upon entering Einstein’s King/Kennedy program in 1968. Dr. Seifter also was a mentor to Dr. Irwin Arias, who first met Dr. Seifter in 1947, a meeting that led to a longtime friendship.
Both Drs. Marcos Rojkind and Carl Franzblau developed relationships with Dr. Seifter early in their careers in biochemistry research. Both men felt fortunate to be welcomed into the Seifter family as a result of the friendships that developed during their collaborations with Sam. Dr. George Y. Wu, an Einstein alumnus, also got to know Dr. Seifter while completing his graduate training with Dr. Seifter from 1972 to 1975; the two continued to collaborate throughout their careers.
The Seifter family Dr. Marshall Matos shared how he literally knew Dr. Seifter inside and out, starting at Einstein as a medical student studying biochemistry under Dr. Seifter and later becoming Dr. Seifter’s cardiologist. This led to a close relationship that was both professional and personal. Via video, Dr. Gerald Graham noted how his 65-year-long friendship with Sam was never lessened by the fact that they lived on separate continents, since the two always made time to visit one another at least once a year.
Three members of the Seifter family also offered insight into the life of Dr. Seifter. His daughter Madeleine Abrams, son Julian Seifter, and grandson Jonathan Abrams each recounted what an amazing person Dr. Seifter was and how much he had impacted their lives. While deeply saddened by their loss, they spoke of focusing on how inspirational Dr. Seifter was and how much they learned from him.
The ceremony concluded with Dr. Timothy Amukele, an MSTP alumnus who forged a close relationship with Dr. Seifter as an Einstein student. At Dr. Seifter’s urging, Dr. Amukele had once composed music inspired by Sam’s poems; at the memorial, Dr. Amukele performed with the Einstein Jazz Ensemble, in a nod to the musical connection he shared with Dr. Seifter.
Sam Seifter was an exceptional man who touched and influenced many people throughout the course of his illustrious life. The tribute at Einstein highlighted the impact that he had on so many people and their lives. In the words of his grandson Jonathan, “…as devastating as his loss is to us, we choose to remember his strength, and to use that as our lifelong inspiration as we carry on without him.”
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Posted on: Tuesday, February 16, 2010