E. Billi Ivry, a personal secretary turned stock broker and a major philanthropist, died at 102.
Ivry, who died last month, was the first woman to serve on the board of trustees of Yeshiva University. She went on to serve on the boards of five of its schools.
Born in 1906 in Grajevo, Lithuania, now Poland, Ivry was the youngest of nine children of Israel and Rebecca Ivry. Her father was in the lumber business in Europe and was a paper box manufacturer in New York City, while her mother was very active in philanthropic work with women’s organizations in Manhattan.
After high school she worked as personal secretary to the top executive of McCrory department stores. The executive taught Ivry how to manage his portfolio of stocks and investments, and lent her a small amount of money to invest for herself, fueling Ivry’s interest in the stock market.
In her 50s, Ivry took courses to become a stock broker and earned her license. She enjoyed success at several major firms.
A Yeshiva University benefactor, the designation given to the university’s largest contributors, Ivry established and endowed the Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies at Stern College. She also endowed scholarship funds, research fellowships, a professorial chair, a free loan fund, a beit midrash and a student center at various schools under the university’s banner. In 1987, Ivry was awarded an honorary doctorate.
Ivry served since 1992 on the board of trustees of the Jewish Theological Seminary, where she endowed the Rebecca and Israel Ivry Prozdor High School and the E. Billi Ivry Professorship of Talmud and Rabbinics.
She also was a board member of the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity, where she established a prize in ethics for college students; a member of the President’s Club of State of Israel Bonds, and director of both the Friends of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Israel, where she established a scholarship loan fund and Jewish studies professorship, and the Brookdale Center on Aging at Hunter College. She also supported the Jerusalem College of Technology (Machon Lev) in Jerusalem, the David Yellin College of Education and Boys Town, Jerusalem.