Joan Mendelson and her daughter, Susan Mendelson Stein, outside Lincoln Center in New York City.

Syracuse, Sammys, summer and stories are the threads that have knit the friendship between the Mendelson and Gelfand families, including the mothers and daughters, Joan Mendelson and Judy Gelfand, and Susan Mendelson Stein and Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns.

Elizabeth Gelfand Stearns explains, “The Mendelsons have been pioneer supporters of The Judy Fund from the beginning. They have been so generous and so attentive to the fund and really celebrated the memory and honor of Judy by being a part of all the great work that we do.”

For several years, Susan Mendelson Stein joined Elizabeth in Washington, D.C. for what is now the AIM Alzheimer's Association Advocacy Forum. Susan also co-hosted The Judy Fund's Mind&Heart Salon Series in New York City, where Joan and Susan both now live. “Mind&Heart took away the cloud of fear and scariness of what we all may be facing and replaced it with education,” Susan explains. And the tradition of support between the families continues. Susan's son, Benjamin, was a fourth generation Sammy at University of Miami. He helped spearhead No Shave November to support The Judy Fund.

Marshall M. Gelfand recalls, “I met Herb Mendelson at Sigma Alpha Mu in Syracuse in the 1940s. On his arm was his wife-to-be, Joan. Joan and Herb became best friends for Judy and me for decades. It is so meaningful to think that our children are now so close, especially Susan and Elizabeth. I know Judy and Herb are smiling.” Joan and Judy's incredibly rich friendship was filled with joy and laughter. The two mothers exchanged many letters and stories. Joan even bound physical volumes of the stories she and Judy shared over the years. Susan says, “I remember when Judy first exhibited signs of Alzheimer's and I remember how my heart broke in a thousand pieces. She was the most competent, capable person. If there were 100 hours in the day, there were 107 for Judy. She did everything with her iconic smile, great joy and great love, humor, and sweetness.”

 

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