Contact: Colleen Roche (212) 788-2958 or Dwight Williams (212) 788-2972
Samuel D. Leidesdorf was born on September 25, 1881 in New York City. His early ambition to be a physician were thwarted by the necessity of helping to support his widowed mother; at age 13, he began his working career as an errand boy, earning $3.50 a week. He rose to the position of bookkeeper and credit man, earning at age 20 the handsome salary of $5,000 per year.
He continued his studies at the New York School of Accounting and at Pace College launched his lifetime vocation. In 1905, Mr. Leidesdorf organized his own accounting firm, S.D.Leidesdorf & Co., certified public accountants, which grew and eventually became one of the largest accounting firms in the nation.
At age 23, Mr. Leidesdorf was the accountant for Montefiore Hospital and became a member of the board of trustees. At the time, the hospital was badly in need of funds and Mr. Leidesdorf helped raise the necessary capital. He was renowned for his ability to enlist people to provide financial support for the causes with which he was associated.
He soon began dedicating himself to what would become a lifetime of philanthropic endeavors for medical and educational institutions, and many other charitable causes, including the Red Cross, the United Jewish Appeal, the Young Women's Christian Association and the United Negro College Fund. He was active in civic and community service and received numerous honors and awards, including an honorary degree as doctor of humane letters from Hebrew Union College, the Medal of the National Fund for Medical Education, the Herbert H. Lehman Human Relations Award of the American Jewish Committee and the Medal for Distinguished Service from the Protestant Council of the City of New York.
In 1948, Mr. Leidesdorf began his tenure on the board of the New York University Medical Center serving as the first Chair of the Building Committee. Later he served as the Chair of the board from 1956 until his death in 1968. As the Chair of the Building Committee from the late 1940's and into the 1950's, he helped bring the dream of creating a major medical center to fruition. He was designated as an Honorary Alumnus of the New York University School of Medicine and in 1964 was awarded the first honorary membership in the Friends of New York University Medical Center.