Ed Flower can only think of one reason why his friend of 60 years, the late Bernard Malberg, DDS, put him in charge of his charitable trust.
For a laugh.
“I suspect it was his idea of a joke,” Flower said, “to create this charitable trust, put me in charge, and not tell me what to do. He probably thought, ‘You’ll figure it out.’”
That said, one of the things that Flower has “figured out” is anything but a joke for students at Stony Brook University’s School of Dental Medicine: how to distribute his friend’s money to defray the cost of a professional education.
With a gift of $500,000, the Dr. Bernard Malberg Memorial Scholarship Endowment Fund will make education more accessible for dental students at Stony Brook, establishing a partial scholarship for one student each year.
“Investment in the education of our students at this level creates a resoundingly positive impact on our students and the school community,” said Mary R. Truhlar, DDS, MS, dean of the School of Dental Medicine. “This generous gift will allow the Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine to be competitive with our peer institutions in the recruitment of talented students interested in a career in dentistry.”
By making education more accessible for aspiring dentists at Stony Brook, Flower sees a fitting way to honor the legacy of a man who made dental care more accessible in his community.
“It’s amazing that he put together as much money as he did when you consider that his fees were very modest,” Flower said. “He dealt with patients who were not wealthy. The West Islip community had a large cross-section of people, and he got many patients who did not come from the wealthiest part of town, and his fees were modest.”
Still, by investing conservatively over the years, Dr. Malberg amassed a considerable estate, and under Flower’s direction, a portion of that estate has been used to create far-reaching impact across the country.
“I’ve embarked on a program of helping small, lesser-known charities,” Flower said. “I’m amazed at how much $10,000, $15,000 or $25,000 can mean to some of these smaller charities. I have a long list of these charities, and we investigate each one. I ask myself, ‘Is this something that Dr. Malberg would support?’ I’ve known him since 1956, so I have some idea about the man, and what he would like and what he wouldn’t like.”
Flower first met Dr. Malberg as a patient, but the veteran of both World War II and the Korean War quickly became more than a dentist to Flower and his wife.
“His office, for a number of years, was within walking distance of our home,” Flower said, “and his office was in his home. On a warm summer evening, he might get on his bicycle or he might walk over to our house, and we’d have coffee and chat. Of course, we’d see him regularly as our dentist. He took care of our kids; he was our dentist until he retired.”
And, while Flower has found great satisfaction in donating his friend’s money “off the beaten path” — “You change the whole face of their charity,” he said — it seemed truly fitting that the largest gift go to support students in his chosen profession, in the Long Island community where he practiced and made his home.
“There is a need for dental practices, everyday dental practices, in various communities on Long Island,” Flower said.
Now, thanks to his friend’s estate, Stony Brook will be able to ease students’ path toward possibly filling that need.
“We are honored to be the permanent home of the Dr. Bernard Malberg Memorial Scholarship Endowment in Dental Medicine,” said Dexter A. Bailey, senior vice president for University Advancement. “The Malberg Scholarship is a lasting example of how our neighbors strengthen the University for generations to come.”
The Dr. Bernard Malberg Memorial Scholarship Endowment is part of the $600 million Campaign for Stony Brook, the largest in SUNY history. To date, more than 47,000 people have contributed a total of more than $589 million. For more information, visit stonybrook.edu/campaign.
— Elliot Olshansky