Joan Arnow, Philanthropist, Dies At 80


Joan Arnow, 80, who died Tuesday at her home in Scarsdale after a long bout with melanoma, was recalled lovingly by family members at funeral services Wednesday as a remarkably warm and generous woman, both emotionally and philanthropically.

Noah Arnow, a recently ordained rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary, conducted the service at Cong. Shaarei Tikvah in Scarsdale, and spoke of his grandmother as a “prolific knitter of sweaters” who also knit together her roles as wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, friend, donor and caring person who sought to improve the world.

He and other family members shared memories of Joan Arnow as a woman of style, grace and quiet class, with a love of gardening, cooking and opera.
Sons David and Peter Arnow cited her unique combination of “an iron will,” “a powerful sense of order” and “a generous spirit” as well as her expertise in the kitchen. And David’s wife, Madeleine, said her mother-in-law was one of her best friends, always there to help.

Charissa Jones, whose mother Ingrid has been employed at the Arnow home for 27 years, told the hundreds of mourners Joan Arnow was like a grandmother to her, “a tiny woman who can fill an entire room.”

Born in December 1929, she was the daughter of Doris and Jack Weiler, who became a prominent real estate developer and philanthropist in the Jewish community. He was later joined in the business by Robert Arnow, who was married to Joan in 1949. Robert and Joan supported a wide range of Jewish causes, from UJA-Federation to helping young musicians and opera singers, and from Bedouins in Israel to a woman in the Midwest who had lost her home in a flood. Joan, reading about the woman, tracked her down and sent her money to rebuild.

Robert Arnow is a founder of The Jewish Week and former chairman of the board.

Joan Arnow’s deep appreciation of life was attributed to the fact that she almost bled to death while giving birth in 1957. “Since then she felt she was living on borrowed time,” her son David recalled.

Despite her long illness and many operations, she “never complained,” he said, and even last week, as she grew increasingly weak, she repeatedly told family members, “don’t be sad, we had such good times.”

The family is observing shiva through Tuesday at 14 Butler Road, Scarsdale.

Check with Cong. Shaarei Tikvah for specific visiting times and services.

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