Emory Report

November 9, 1998

 Volume 51, No. 11

Emory benefactor and alumnus William Schatten dies

William Schatten, whose philanthropy encompassed many areas of the University, died Oct. 23 of cancer. He was 70. While Woodruff Library's Schatten Gallery bears his name, Schatten was one of the key supporters in mounting a Jewish studies program at Emory, said David Blumenthal, Jay and Leslie Cohen Chair of Judaic Studies. Schatten was involved in the decision of his late father-in-law, I.T. Cohen, to establish the chair Blumenthal has held since 1978.

Schatten honored his father-in-law by establishing with his family the I.T. Cohen Chair in Human Rights at the School of Law. And in 1978, as a birthday surprise to his wife, he formed the William and Barbara Schatten Scholarship in Judaic Studies, which supports undergraduate and graduate students in the Department of Religion.

A 1946 graduate of Emory College, Schatten went on to become one of the youngest Emory medical school graduates, finishing in 1950 at the age of 21. A child prodigy, Schatten originally planned to become a concert pianist and played at age 18 to packed houses at the Fox Theatre with the Atlanta Pops Concert Orchestra. Instead, he used his dexterous fingers to perform plastic surgery and invented surgical techniques still in use.

In November 1980 Emory was making a bid to bring the Jewish Museum exhibit "Danzig 1939: Treasures of a Destroyed Community" to campus. During an inspection tour by the museum's director, Schatten saw how ill-equipped Emory was, pre-Carlos Museum, to house an exhibit of valuable silver, tapestry and documents. He asked how much money it would take to create an exhibition space in the library and donated it. Since then, the Schatten Gallery has hosted more than 170 exhibits.

Also a leader in the Atlanta community, Schatten was president of Ahavath Achim Synagogue and the Atlanta Jewish Federation and a board member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. For his service he received many honors, including the Anti-Defamation League's Abe Goldstein Human Relations Award in 1985.

"The Talmud says, 'It is not the surrounding which brings honor to the person; rather, it is the person who brings honor to his or her surrounding,'" Blumenthal said. "This was certainly true of Dr. Bill Schatten. It was not the enterprise that brought him honor; it was he who brought honor to any enterprise he undertook, including his contribution to Emory."

Those wishing to honor William Schatten's memory can make contributions to the Schatten Gallery in care of Joan Gotwals, director of the Woodruff Library.

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