University Trustee David M. Flaum remembered as ‘a great champion’ for University, community

Aug. 21, 2020

University Life Trustee David M. Flaum—generous philanthropist, entrepreneur, and community advocate—passed away on August 20 at the age of 67.

“The University of Rochester and the City of Rochester have lost a great champion,” said University President Sarah C. Mangelsdorf. “David Flaum built relationships as much as he built buildings, and he leaves an indelible legacy in this community and well beyond. We are saddened by David’s sudden passing, but are tremendously grateful for his many lasting contributions to the University as a trustee, medical center board member, and philanthropist.”

Flaum joined the University of Rochester Board of Trustees in 2007 and the Medical Center Board in 1998. During his tenure as a University board member, he served on the health affairs, facilities, and strategic and financial planning committees. He became a Life Trustee in 2017.

“In addition to supporting the institute for ophthalmology care and research that bears his name, David Flaum was extremely helpful in obtaining government funds to support construction of the Kornberg Medical Research Building, and he contributed to the growth and success of our institution in many other ways,” said Mark B. Taubman, MD, CEO of URMC and dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry. “As our entire Medical Center mourns the loss of a great champion, Lois and I have also lost a dear personal friend; we extend our deep condolences to Ilene, the Flaum family, and to David’s colleagues at Flaum Management.”

In 2006, Flaum and his wife, Ilene, established an endowed fund to support what was then called the University of Rochester Eye Institute. In recognition of their generosity, the David and Ilene Flaum Eye Institute was named in their honor in 2009. The Flaum Eye Institute is the region’s only eye institute and a leader in specialty eye care, conducting clinical trials and pioneering new diagnostics and treatments to help preserve vision.

David also served on the Flaum Eye Institute Advisory Board for more than 20 years. 

“David’s devotion to our cause has allowed many of us to build our careers here, to perform groundbreaking vision research, and to preserve and save the sight of thousands,” said David A. DiLoreto, Jr, MD, PhD, director of the Flaum Eye Institute and chair of ophthalmology. “It will be an honor to continue the institute’s mission in his memory.”

Steven Feldon, MD, the former chair of ophthalmology, who also served as Flaum Eye Institute director until earlier this year, echoed these sentiments.

“David immediately understood the positive impact a world-class eye institute would have on the community and region,” said Feldon, who is now associate vice president of URMC and director of the Biomedical Research and Development Office. “I will miss David as a friend and advisor who stood alongside me as we created and built the David and Ilene Flaum Eye Institute. David’s legacy will live on through the institute’s success in its ongoing missions of eye research, education, patient care, technology development, and population health.

The Flaums also provided generous support to many other areas of the University over the years, including Golisano Children’s Hospital, Wilmot Cancer Institute, FF Thompson Hospital, and others. In 1999, the Sarah Flaum Atrium at the University’s Medical Center was named for David’s mother in recognition of David and Ilene’s support.

Flaum was the chairman, founder, and CEO of Flaum Management Company, Inc. of Rochester, which offers development, management, brokerage and consulting services to clients throughout the northeastern United States. He received his bachelor’s degree from Syracuse University and a JD from Franklin Pierce College. He was a member of Syracuse’s Board of Trustees, where the David & Ilene Grand Hall at the Whitman School is named after him and his wife.

The son of Holocaust survivors, Flaum was also a board member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. He was active in local, regional, and national Republican politics and served as national chairman of the Republican Jewish Coalition.

Flaum is survived by his wife, Ilene, sons Asher and Loren, daughter Sara Ressler, son-in-law Darren Ressler, daughters-in-law Monica and Jamie, and his grandchildren and extended relatives.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in his memory to the Flaum Eye Institute and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

University flags will be lowered on September 10 to honor his memory.