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Page Morton Black, Parkinsonís Disease Philanthropist and Widow of Chock full oíNuts Founder, Dies in her Late 90s
- Jul 22 2013
Page Morton Black, a philanthropist who dedicated the second half of her long and varied career to the Parkinson’s disease community, died in the early morning of July 21 at the age of 97. Mrs. Black worked for more than 40 years to build support for Parkinson’s research programs at the Parkinson’s Disease Foundation (PDF). It was William Black, Mrs. Black’s late husband and founder of the Chock full o’Nuts coffee and restaurant business, who, using his own money, created PDF in 1957. PDF was the first not-for-profit foundation in the US to be dedicated to research and education on Parkinson’s disease.
Mrs. Black served as Secretary of PDF’s Board of Directors until assuming the role of Chairman after her husband’s death in 1983. She resigned from the PDF Board in 2012 but continued to serve the organization as Chairman Emeritus until her death.
Raised in Winnetka, IL, Mrs. Black grew up in a musical family. Her mother was a professional pianist and her father was both a musician and talented linguist. She was an acclaimed vocalist and a gifted pianist, first teaching friends for a quarter a lesson at the age of eight. Moving to New York in her late 20s, she played and sang at major hotels including The Pierre, the Sherry-Netherland, the Warwick and One Fifth Avenue. It was while playing at a small nightclub in Greenwich Village that she met her husband who became captivated by her singing voice, best remembered in the Chock full o’Nuts coffee jingle. They married in 1962.
Her innate charm and charismatic style was imbued with a practical, common-sense approach to getting the job done. When asked in an interview in 2000 what was the single most important challenge to solving Parkinson’s disease, she replied “Oh, money, of course! There are so many scientific opportunities out there – great doctors doing great things. What they need is the money to make it possible.”
She had a remarkable ability to engage people, enlisting their support for the cause to which she devoted so much of her life. Under her leadership, PDF has become a leader in the Parkinson’s community. Her commitment to PDF was felt by many; particularly through the energy she devoted to its annual fundraising gala, Bal du Printemps, which she chaired for many years. Even when her declining health prevented her from attending the gala, she continued to charm guests in attendance with a recording of the song that Eddie Tone wrote for her, “A Little Bit of Giving.” In 2005, PDF presented Mrs. Black with its Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of her dedication to and leadership in the Parkinson’s community
Robin Elliott, President of PDF said: “We have lost a much-loved, deeply admired and great ambassador for all those who live with Parkinson’s disease. The Board and staff of PDF join the community in mourning her passing. Her indomitable spirit shall continue to be our inspiration in our quest for a cure for this terrible disease.”
Source Date: Jul 22 2013