March 9, 2005 by

Isabelle Goldenson

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Categories: Misc.

Isabelle Goldenson, a co-founder of United Cerebral Palsy, died on Feb. 21 of natural causes. She was 84.
Born Isabelle Charlotte Weinstein, Goldenson attended Barnard College, Columbia University and the Union Theological Seminary. A native New Yorker, she and her husband, ABC chairman Leonard H. Goldenson, had three children. When their eldest daughter Genise was born with cerebral palsy in 1943, the Goldensons joined forces with another couple, Jack and Ethel Hausman, to create a support system for families affected by the developmental disorder. The Goldensons and the Hausmans purchased an ad in The New York Herald Tribune to locate other parents of children suffering from the disease. Hundreds of people responded.
United Cerebral Palsy launched in 1949. More than 50 years later, it is one of the largest health charities in the United States. The organization serves 30,000 people daily and advocates for the 54 million Americans with disabilities.
Isabelle Goldenson also established the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke and the United Cerebral Palsy Research and Education Foundation. She recruited Dr. Sidney Farber and 14 medical scientists to study and devise methods of preventing cerebral palsy in children. The team eventually discovered a vaccine for German measles and developed fetal heart monitors and light treatments for babies born with jaundice.
In 1971, Goldenson met with officials from NASA, the National Institute of Health and the Veterans Administration. She encouraged them to come up with practical applications of space technology to assist people with disabilities. In response, NASA engineers developed a lightweight wheelchair, medical monitoring equipment, remote control limbs, multi-directional conveyances to help the disabled climb stairs and sensory devices for the blind.
In recent years, the Goldensons lobbied government officials for wheelchair access to sidewalks and restrooms, and donated $60 million to Harvard Medical School to underwrite research on neurological diseases. Genise Goldenson died at the age of 29 in 1973. Leonard Goldenson died in 1999. Isabelle Goldenson is survived by her two daughters, Loreen Arbus and Maxine Goldenson, and her grandson.

One Response to Isabelle Goldenson

  1. Peggy Lark

    Max – Much has aspired in both of our lives…we both still love the story of CYNTHIA… please call me if you are interested…in the meantime, I adopted a child who is starring on a TV show currently…who knew? Call me….I tried to reach you but you were unlisted…I’m determined to get Cynthia going…how about you?
    Peggy Lark

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