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Donor Stories: Jack Halpern

On January 31, 2018, Court Theatre lost a friend and supporter, Professor Jack Halpern. Jack served as a member of the Court Theatre Board of Trustees from 1988 until his death.

Jack Halpern joined the faculty of the Chemistry Department at the University of Chicago in 1962 and remained there, as well as a resident of Hyde Park, for the rest of his career. His contributions to chemistry included hundreds of published scientific articles and serving as editor for numerous scientific journals. During his lifetime, he received many honors and much recognition for his work. 

Beyond his scientific knowledge and expertise, Jack always had a fondness for the arts. His daughter, Janice, said, “Science was his calling, but art in all forms was his passion.” Jack and his late wife, Helen, were fans of modern art, especially Expressionist, Cubist, and Surrealist works, and over the years they developed an extensive collection.

Jack also was a longtime fan of Court’s work. Janice recalled, “He loved being part of the Court family. He felt like an insider because of his long connection with the theatre, his participation on the Board, and attendance at the many Opening Nights and other Court-sponsored events, where he could enjoy the company of its wonderful staff and patrons.” His younger daughter, Nina, added, “When I spoke with my father on the phone in later years, one of the most frequent topics of conversation was his immense pride in whatever the most recent production of Court Theatre happened to be.”

During Jack’s service on the Board, he saw Court through many changes, including Charles Newell’s appointment as Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and the expansion of the theatre’s work to include new adaptations and pieces from the African American canon.

During his nearly 30 years on the Board, Jack’s support was integral to the theatre’s success.  In the 1990s, Jack and Helen established a Charitable Gift Annuity, indicating that after both of their deaths, the remaining funds would be distributed equally to Court Theatre and the Smart Museum. Since the Annuity was established over two decades ago, it has grown significantly from its original value. The distributed funds will be added to Court’s endowment, helping the theatre fulfill its mission of dedication to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service for next season, and seasons to come.

Nina said of her father, “I think he took great pride in the high quality of Court’s productions, and was happy to contribute to that ongoing excellence in whatever way he could.”

Court is humbled to carry on Jack’s and Helen’s legacy of passion for the arts. ■

Have you already included Court in your will or estate plans? Would you like to learn more about adding a bequest in your will to support Court or designating Court as beneficiary of your retirement account or life insurance plan? Contact Andrew Berg, Director of Development, at (773) 834-3305 or email.


Posted on April 16, 2018 in Donor Stories, Support

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