Jerome Chazen, the namesake of the University of Wisconsin campus art museum, died at the age of 94 last Sunday.
Chazen was a philanthropist and fashion industry leader, owning a private equity firm and co-founding Liz Claiborne Inc., according to his university page. Chazen and his wife, Simona Chazen, were passionate patrons of the museum and collection’s improvement, Chazen Museum’s Chief of Staff Lindsay Grinstead said.
The Chazen Museum received its namesake after the Chazen’s $20 million lead gift to fund the museum’s 2011 expansion, according to UW News.
Beyond his contributions to campus, Grinstead said those who knew Chazen will remember his kind spirit and humble character.
“When you talked to him, he would always ask questions about you personally and try to get to know you,” Grinstead said. “You were aware that you’re in the presence of someone obviously very smart and successful but he didn’t flaunt that in any way.”
In addition to their initial $20 million dollar donation, the Chazen’s contributed $3 million in 2015 to establish the “Chazen Family Distinguished Chair in Art” and the “Simona and Jerome Chazen Distinguished Chair in Art History,” according to UW News.
The Chazen family also contributed much of the art in the museum today. With Jerome Chazen’s death, a large part of Jerome Chazen’s art collection will eventually be given to the Museum.
Jerome Chazen’s daughter, Kathy Chazen, said at his memorial service his commitment to UW was shared throughout the family.
“Our joint commitment to the school was something we were both passionate about,” Kathy Chazen said. “We sat on separate boards, we shared many hours on how to contribute in the best way.”
The Chazen Museum and its director, Amy Gilman, are attempting to emulate the passion for art, general enthusiasm and benevolence Chazen embodied throughout his life, Grinstead said.
Chazen’s funeral was held Tuesday morning at Riverside Memorial Chapel in Manhattan and can be accessed as a live recording.