Adeline P. Lutz, a Greece piano teacher who donated her life’s savings to the University of Rochester’s Flaum Eye Institute, died Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2011, at the age of 83.
Lutz’s donation of $6 million to the Flaum Eye Institute followed more than 20 years of treatments by ophthalmologist and corneal surgeon Steven Ching, M.D., to correct extensive corneal and retinal problems.
She was moved to support the Flaum Eye Institute (FEI) in advancing its mission of providing cutting-edge care and research for cures for tomorrow. The University recognized her generosity by naming the entrance to the FEI building the Adeline P. Lutz Pavilion in 2009.
“Adeline gave all of her fortune, which was accumulated at a sacrifice to her and her husband, because she lived for a larger purpose – to cure eye disease. She’s an inspiration for all grateful patients that they can not only receive the benefit of access to advanced eye care but that they can also contribute to benefit those to come,” said Steven E. Feldon, M.D., M.B.A., chair of Ophthalmology and director of the Flaum Eye Institute.
“We are saddened by Mrs. Lutz’ death and continue to be grateful for her impact on our programs and future of care and research,” said University of Rochester President Joel Seligman. “When selfless individuals like Adeline Lutz step up to make a difference in the world, we are reminded of the generosity that exists in our community.”
Lutz grew up in the Midwest and attended St. Mary’s College in Indiana, where she studied music and received a bachelor’s degree. She earned a master’s degree at the American Conservatory of Music in Chicago.
Lutz and her late husband, Walter “Jack” Lutz, led a quiet life together for more than 50 years. She worked out of their home teaching piano lessons and he was an engineer for Eastman Kodak Co.
“Adeline was determined, independent and frugal. She was willing to donate her funds to help others and she was happy to play a role in our growth and expansion of clinical and research program,” said Ching, who shared her love of tennis, teaching and piano. They had a wonderful, 25-year friendship and he enjoyed her genuine curiosity and her altruistic perspective on life.
“She was very unassuming and never put on airs. She drove the same 1982 Toyota Celica for as long as I knew her. She said it worked perfectly so there was no need to get a new one. That’s how she was,” Ching said.
Because of her relationship with Ching and the entire FEI staff, the couple decided to assist the FEI become a major national center for eye care, ophthalmic research, education, and technology transfer.
“They are all like family to me and I credit Dr. Ching with saving my sight,” Lutz said at the time of her donation. “Jack and I wanted to repay him and everyone at the Eye Institute for their dedication and kindness and ensure that future patients continue to get the very best, the very newest, treatments.”