Erwin P. Staller, 97, visionary philanthropist and tireless advocate for Stony Brook University, died yesterday after a lifetime of support for education, arts and culture.
Staller, Hon. ’01, one of Long Island’s most successful commercial real estate entrepreneurs, was a Stony Brook Foundation Emeritus Trustee and CEO of Staller Associates.
“As we reflect on Erwin’s myriad contributions in time and treasure to benefit our students, faculty, staff and our community, though I will miss him dearly, I am inspired by Erwin Staller’s vision and focus, and in the knowledge that his powerful legacy will live on at Stony Brook for generations to come,” said Stony Brook University President Samuel L. Stanley Jr.
Born in 1921, Staller was an innovative entrepreneur in Long Island’s commercial real estate market. He was a WWII veteran and served five years in the U.S. Army. In 1988, Erwin Staller and the Staller family gave the University its first million-dollar donation, a $1.8 million gift to what became the Staller Center for the Arts, helping create a foundation for the Staller’s legacy of philanthropy at Stony Brook University spanning 35 years.
The Stony Brook University Fine Arts Center was named Staller Center for the Arts in memory of Erwin’s parents, Max and Mary Staller. Erwin and his wife Pearl, whom he affectionately called “Freddie,” and Erwin’s children generously funded the “Staller Scholars,” providing scholarships for graduate music students pursuing doctorates in the Stony Brook University Department of Music.
Staller family members and friends joined Erwin in supporting the mission of the Staller Center for the Arts. Over the years, these gifts allowed the Center to flourish and grow into a popular cultural entertainment hub on Long Island’s North Shore. He and his family have generously contributed more than $16 million to Stony Brook, most notably reflected in the growing prominence of Staller Center and the high quality of its programming.
Erwin Staller served with distinction on the Stony Brook Foundation Board of Trustees for over 30 years and remained a highly valued emeritus member of both the Stony Brook Foundation Board and the Stony Brook Foundation Realty, LLC, for which he was the Founding Chair.
Stony Brook awarded Erwin Staller the Stony Brook Medal for Extraordinary Service in 1989 as well as an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in 2001. He was also honored at the 2006 Stars of Stony Brook Gala.
Mr. Staller was a true gift to all who knew him. I myself, also had the pleasure of working along side him for many years. He had a very unique gift of vision. It enabled him to make sound decisions in business and to believe in people, in my case more than I believed in myself. I will always love this man for how he mentored myself and others. Other than my father and sons, I’ve never had more love and respect for another man.
God bless you sir.