Honoring a Family Legacy

A new fund honors Ronald and Martin Rubin


Ronald Rubin ’50 was not one to talk about how he was transformed by Williston, says his daughter Judith DeJarnette, though he clearly was. An accomplished pharmacology professor who would earn his bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Harvard and a doctorate from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, her father was private by nature, she notes, and in his youth “was probably not doing all the things he was supposed to be doing.” To help him focus, his parents, second-generation Jewish immigrants who owned a leather tannery in Gloversville, New York, sent him to Williston, followed three years later by his younger brother, Martin ’53, known as Mit.

The decision would prove to be catalytic for the family, spring-boarding the brothers from their small town into the Ivy Leagues and distinguished careers. Mit, three-sport athlete, editor-in-chief of The Willistonian, and president of his class, would earn degrees from Princeton and Harvard Medical School, then practice medicine for three decades at Manchester Hospital, in Connecticut. Ronald would attend medical and dental school and teach high school biology before earning his pharmacology degree. After teaching at a number of universities, he joined the faculty of the State University of New York at Buffalo, eventually chairing the department.

While Ronald may not have shared many stories of his Williston days, he found another way to express his appreciation for the school. In 2004, he told Williston that upon his death he planned to establish a financial aid fund to give other deserving students the life-changing opportunity he had had. The fund would also honor his brother, who had died from cancer in 1993 at age 57.

When Ronald died in January 2021 at age 88, however, the family discovered that the bequest was not specified in his will, an oversight that may have occurred when the paperwork was revised after the death of his wife, Lois, 10 years prior. “Before my mother passed away, she kept saying, ‘Your father wants to start a scholarship fund at Williston. It’s in the will,’” DeJarnette recalls. “So we knew this was something he wanted to do.” This year, she and her siblings, Lawrence Rubin and Ellen Smith, have made their father’s wish a reality, endowing the Ronald P. Rubin ’50 and Martin L. Rubin ’53 Financial Aid Fund with $250,000.

What was it about Williston? “Something at the school may have changed him, stuck with him, so that he felt that it was important to support the school,” DeJarnette suggests, noting that her father did not leave similar bequests to any of the other schools he attended. “Coming from that small town in Gloversville, a very bright man, it focused him on his learning and his skills and writing. It got him that foot in the door to get to Harvard, where he also thrived.”

Supporting the transformative power of opportunity is at the heart of what the Rubin children hope their fund will accomplish. As DeJarnette puts it, the scholarship will allow the school “to give this kind of experience to some other student who would benefit from it, and then go on to make a contribution in society.”