The Jewish Community Board of Akron has received a $10 million gift and will rename its West Akron campus after the donors.
The 40-acre White Pond Drive campus will be called the Albert L. and Janet A. Schultz Campus for Jewish Life, the board announced Tuesday evening as it unveiled a rendering with the new name on a revamped building facade.
The Albert and Janet Schultz Supporting Foundation of the San Francisco Jewish Community Federation made the gift. The late couple met at the former Akron Jewish Center and lived in Akron until 1979, when they moved to San Francisco.
“You loved Akron as we all love Akron,” David Koch, CEO of the Jewish Community Board of Akron, said during a festive ceremony to announce the gift. “Thank you for making a gift that will help sustain this Jewish community.”
Koch called the donation a “game-changer” and said it stands as the largest made to the board, which has received other sizable gifts in the past.
The gift was kept tightly under wraps until a ceremony that about 150 guests attended at the Jerry Shaw Community Center, which will retain its name. The audience erupted in cheers and applause when the donation was announced and celebrated with champagne and chocolate-covered strawberries.
The Schultzes met as teenagers in 1929 at the opening of the Akron Jewish Center on Balch Street, the precursor of the present-day Shaw Jewish Community Center, at 750 White Pond Drive. They remained supporters of the Jewish community in Akron and San Francisco throughout their lives.
Janet Schultz died in 2008; Albert Schultz died in March, just five months short of his 100th birthday. The couple had two daughters.
A certified public accountant, Albert Schultz was among the first to be certified in Ohio, setting up a practice in the mid-1930s. He returned to Akron after World War II and joined Olson Radio Warehouse, where he served as controller until the company — then Olson Electronics — was sold to Teledyne in 1968.
Schultz was a generous philanthropist, donating to numerous agencies — from the Salvation Army, which helped him when he was a soldier in England in WWII, to education, the arts and human services. He gave $500,000 to the Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto, Calif., which was renamed in his honor.
Schultz decided about 18 months ago that he had one last thing he wanted to accomplish in his life: establish a legacy.
Dianne Newman, a past president of the Jewish Community Board of Akron, read a letter from Deana and Harvey Freedman, the Schultzes’ niece and her husband, to the audience Tuesday evening. Harvey Freedman, who heads the family’s foundation, said this donation completes Albert’s “circle of life” and his “long legacy of generosity.”
Koch said the money will be used to make several immediate improvements, including upgrading the heating, ventilation and air conditioning system, the kitchen and the indoor swimming pool. He said the rest will be put into the board’s endowment to “do things in perpetuity.”
Mayor Don Plusquellic, who had just returned from a trip to Omaha, Neb., was among those who attended the event. He said the donation is “great for the community.”
“It’s good anytime people can give back,” he said.
For Toby Rosen, another attendee, the donation made a great gift for her birthday, which she celebrated Tuesday.
“I think this campus is going to bloom, and the community will benefit in ways I can’t even imagine,” she said.
Rosen said the gift means the Schultz name will long be remembered in Akron, a distinction that is important in the Jewish faith.
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or email@example.com.