David T. Chase ’06H made an indelible impact on the world – and his passing marks the end of a remarkable life story.
Born in Poland, David arrived in the United States in 1946 after surviving three Nazi concentration camps during World War II: Auschwitz, Sachsenhausen, and Mauthausen. Upon arrival in Hartford, the United Jewish Appeal (now incorporated into the Jewish Federations of North America) helped him find a place to live. He graduated from Weaver High School and transferred from Hillyer College to UConn’s pre-law program. It was at UConn where he met his wife, Rhoda Cohen, whom he credited as having the most influential impact on his life.
As the founder, chairman and CEO of Chase Enterprises, David’s career touched diverse industries including radio, television, banking, manufacturing, and commercial real estate. He was instrumental in the building of One Financial Plaza, affectionately known as the “Gold Building,” in Hartford. He also had a passion for philanthropy, citing the importance of the services that helped him when he first arrived in the United States. David and his family gave to many local causes and institutions, including a long and generous history of supporting UConn.
In 1984, the Chase family established the Chase Family Chair in Juvenile Diabetes. In 2005, they made significant gifts to the School of Law and UConn Health. The family’s gift to UConn Health supported musculoskeletal research by establishing the Chase Family Skeletal Biology Research Fund, for which the Chase Family Research Floor and Laboratories were named.
The family’s gift to the law school established the Cheryl A. Chase Endowment, providing programmatic support to the school that daughter Cheryl ’78 (LAW) graduated from. The School of Law’s administration building was named Cheryl A. Chase Hall in recognition of the gift. Most recently, the Chase family provided a gift to name “The Chase Family Surgical Waiting Room” in the new University Tower at UConn Health, John Dempsey Hospital. The waiting area provides a welcoming environment for families of patients undergoing surgery.
Their numerous honors include two from UConn. In 2006, the University honored David with a Doctor of Humane Letters honorary degree. And in 2013, the Chase family was honored at the White Coat Gala as a Neag Medal of Honor Recipient.
The Chase family’s generosity extended around the world. David was a co-founder of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. and led fundraising efforts for the World Holocaust Remembrance Center. After the fall of the Berlin Wall, he returned to Poland upon the request of his friend Pope Saint John Paul II. There, his investments included the first Polish-American owned bank, which helped pave the way for his revolutionary infrastructure investment.
David’s philanthropic legacy will live on in the many lives he touched around the world, including his two children, Cheryl and Arnold. Today, Cheryl maintains a strong connection to UConn, serving on UConn Health’s Board of Directors. David’s legacy is also that of a family man and loving person, which is how his children and grandchildren will remember him.
“After horrific trials early in life beyond the imagination of most, David gave continuously, and most generously, of his time, talents and resources without judgement or discrimination for the betterment of all of humanity,” said Dr. Peter J. Deckers, M.D., Dean Emeritus, UConn School of Medicine. “Where he saw need, he saw opportunity to do good or bring relief, and he quietly serviced it. His impact was and remains regional, national and international, and will always endure as a monument to his goodness and that of the Chase family!”
This article was compiled with information from the Hartford Courant and the Connecticut Jewish Ledger.