Suzanne Rosenthal, co-founder of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), died Sunday afternoon. She was 76-years old.
Rosenthal, who herself was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in 1955 – a type of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) – co-founded what was previously known as the National Foundation Lietis and Colitis with her husband Irwin M. Rosenthal, William D. and Shelby Modell, and Henry D. Janowitz, MD, in 1967.
“There are no words to clearly express our gratitude to Suzanne for all that she has done for the 1.4 million people who suffer from these diseases,” said CCFA President Richard Geswell. “She will be greatly missed. Her legacy will live on and we will not stop until we find cures.”
Along with being instrumental to the founding of CCFA, Rosenthal held a number of other positions at the organization. She served as the president of the foundation’s Greater New York Chapter and was also the National Chairperson of the Board from 1987 to 1991. She served as Chairperson Emeritus of CCFA’s Government Affairs Task Force, and was a champion in all advocacy efforts of the foundation.
During her tenure as president of the Greater New York Chapter, Rosenthal initiated a support group model for both of the IBDs, a model that has since been implemented as the Foundation’s national network of support groups.
Marjorie Merrick, CCFA’s vice president of research and scientific programs, worked with Rosenthal for more than 28 years, and recalls her as one of the kindest people she ever met. “She would take all the time in the world with a newly diagnosed patient. She would give them all the support they needed. She was always there for people,” she said.
Rosenthal was instrumental in the creation of new CCFA chapters, traveling across the country to help establish them. She was honored in June 2003 with CCFA’s Public Policy Pioneer Award for this and other efforts to advocate for patients suffering from Crohn’s and Colitis disease.
In addition to her work at CCFA, Rosenthal was the founder and past president of the Digestive Disease National Coalition (DDNC). The DDNC comprises more than 32 lay groups and professional societies, representing the research and healthcare legislative interests of people who suffer from digestive disorders. She also held roles at many other digestive disease-related organizations in the U.S., including: member, Advisory Council, National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), National Institutes of Health (NIH); and chairman, Workgroup on Education of Public and Patients and Supporting Resources of the National Commission on Digestive Diseases.
Merrick said that Rosenthal will be missed for many reasons, most of all for her undying support for CCFA and those with IBDs.
“CCFA was really her third child. This was a group she nurtured, and gave her heart and soul to. She was absolutely dedicated to finding a cure so others wouldn’t have to suffer as she would,” said Merrick.
CCFA has 41 chapters nationwide and is the largest voluntary nonprofit health organization dedicated to finding cures for Crohn’s, Colitis, and other IBDs. The Foundation works to fulfill this mission by funding research, providing educational resources for patients and their families, medical professionals, and the public, and furnishing supportive services for those afflicted with IBD.
Rosenthal leaves behind her husband Irwin, daughters Karen Rosenthal and Robin Mehler, son-in-law David Mehler, grandchildren Jenna, Jack and Abby, brother Donald Sigman, and sister-in-law Myrna. The family asks that all donations made in her honor go to CCFA.