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National Leaders Laud Lifework of Dr. Lee K. Frankel at Testimonial Dinner

December 12, 1927
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Praise His Contribution to Increasing Longevity Through Promotion of Modern Health Methods in U. S.; 240,000 Lives Saved Through Frankel’s Work, President of Metropolitan Declares

Eight hundred distinguished leaders in public health, finance, industry and philanthropy gathered at the Hotel Biltmore Friday night at the testimonial dinner given to Dr. Lee K. Frankel, second vice-president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, chairman of the Executive Committee of the Institute of Jewish Religion, member of the State Board of Charities and chairman of American section of the Palestine Survey Commission of the Jewish Agency, in celebration of his sixtieth birthday.

Homer Folks, the chairman, Felix M. Warburg, Professor C. E. A. Winslow, representing American Public Health Association, and Haley Fiske, president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, paid tribute to Dr. Frankel for his service in social and health work.

A message of congratulations from J. H. King, Minister of Health in Canada, was read.

Mr. Warburg, in his address, said: “I have known Dr. Frankel for 33 years. There are fifty seven varieties of activities in which we have worked together, whether it was the United Hebrew Charities, the State Board of Charities or the initial organization of the Federation of Jewish Charities, in the field of providing play-grounds, in the establishment of nursing health associations throughout this country and in the fight against tuberculosis, which, with Dr. Frankel’s help, has been most radically eliminated in New York City.

“Miss Lillian D. Wald, of the Henry Street Settlement, can tell you how essential in the early precarious days was Dr. Frankel to this work. Not only has his influence extended all over the United States through his wise and sagacious counsel, but when we sent him to Poland where he coped with the terrible conditions created by typhus and other epidemics as well as in other countries, he was a good soldier abroad.

“He has only recently returned from Palestine where he devoted his talents to the consideration of the problems of that country in an effort to solve the difficulties in the path of that work. In a few weeks I am to meet with him and my associates to complete this work of investigation of conditions in Palestine.

“Dr. Frankel’s record is one of splendid citizenship and public service,” Mr. Warburg declared.

Haley Fiske, president of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, said: ‘ Today Dr. Frankel is the third officer in the company. When Dr. Frankel came with us in 1909 we had assets of $235.000.000. Now we have $2.235,000,000. Then we had 10,000,000 policies on lives. Now we have 40,000,000. Then we had 9,230,000 industrial policies. Now we have 34,000,000. Then we had 7,200,000 lives insured in our industrial department. Now we have 21,200,000. The importance of Dr. Frankel’s work is apparent when I tell you that the Metropolitan has insured the lives of 27,000,000 people. one-fifth of the population of the United States and Canada.

“When he took over the Industrial Insurance feature of our company, he established the basis on which the present growth was possible. He ordered and established the basis on which this huge business could he financed, coped with the problem of agents and then conceived and taught that hand in hand with this business must go the nursing associations, which he has established throughout this country. He threw the backing of the Industrial Insurance business of our companies behind the nursing health associations and there by provided an income which has stabilized the ministering to the working classes of this country of nursing and physicians services. The magnitude of this work is apparent when I say that we have thus far spent alone in this public health service $27,000,000.

“He created a public health literature. of which 460.000.000 copies have been distributed. He has raised the general hygienic condition of living and health of the working classes. When Dr. Frankel organized this work in 1911, the mortality among industrial workers was 24 per cent, higher than that of the general population. He has achieved the miracle in 1925, of bringing the mortality of industrial workers 1.3 percent, below that of the general population. His work has increased the extension of the life of the industrial worker 8.8 years, and of the general policy holder 5.10 years. His efforts have saved 240,000 lives. This country is in his debt,” Mr. Fiske declared.

Professor Winslow of Yale declared “the most significant contribution of Dr. Frankel’s life has been to the field of public health service. I regard him as the most outstanding volunteer in public health in the United States.

“We have reason to be thankful for Dr. Frankel. It was in 1909 that the comprehensive nursing service of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company was founded by Dr. Frankel which now reaches 9,000,000 people.

“When Dr. Frankel was the president of the American Public Health Association he completely changed its status. He laid down the basis for the health educational program of the Metropolitan which has had a real effect on the health of the community. He has worked for the co-ordination of health activities in the United States. We all know of his role in the Child Health Council the National Health Council and the American Health Conference at Atlantic City. We know his part in the housing commission, the influenza commission. His name is written in golden letters upon the scroll of American public health service.”

“What is past. is past and what I would rather discuss with you is what of the future?” declared Dr. Frankel replying to the tributes. “Are there further possibilities? Are there further opportunities ? Are there further chances of trying to use men and women generally in this great work in which you and I, as social and health workers, are engaged? When I joined the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, the linger of scorn was pointed at me by my colleagues. I was told that I had sold myself to ‘the interests.’ whatever that might mean. At a Conference of Charities and Corrections held in the City of Buffalo in 1910. I read a paper on “The Industrial Insurance Agent as a Social Worker,’ and the men and women at that conference told me that I was mad. I was ridiculed: I was told that I was attempting the impossible that it could not be accomplished.

“I do no know, but what the greatest pleasure that I have tonight is the realization that two weeks ago, in the City of Chicago, at a dinner which we gave out there. Doctor Bundesen, the Health Commissioner of that city, publicly asked one thousand agents of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company to assist him officially in the campaign that he was conducting in that city to cradicate diphtheria.

“I think the lesson that the future has for us is this, that if we are to do good work, if we are to further extend and prolong life, and it can be done, if we are to reach that age limit that was predicted by the psalmist, and possibly go beyond it, it can only be done by the closest cooperation of all those who are interested in the work, –the Health Officer officially, the volunteer health man of whom mention was made this evening, the social worker, of whom I am still one, the physician in his practice, the nurse, and, in particular, men and women in their respective communities,” Dr. Frankel said.

Homer Folks in behalf of his associates presented a clock and desk writing set as a token to Dr. Frankel.

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