Retired insurance executive and community leader Alexander Barbanell died on July 17, 2022, days before his 92nd birthday, at Mount Sinai West Hospital, New York, NY. He died of pneumonia and multiple infections. His wife and children were with him when he died. Born on August 1, 1930 in Warsaw, Poland, while his mother was visiting family, they moved back to Brooklyn, where the family resided. Both of his parents, Louis Barbanell and Blanche Buki Barbanell, lost family members murdered by the Nazis during the Holocaust. This drove Alex’s persistent work for social justice. In 1946, the family moved to Long Island. After graduating from Bellport High School, Alex learned sales by selling magazines door to door until he was drafted into the Korean War. He entered college under the GI Bill, then married Joanne Mott in 1955. They had three children, Jeffrey, Donna and Carol Barbanell. His insurance career began on an account receivable with Metropolitan Life, but his work ethic and extraordinary ability to connect with people soon earned him promotions and then to agency management for Home Life. He liked to joke around with all kinds of people and often quoted Abraham Lincoln saying, “I don’t like that man. I need to know him better. He moved his family to Scottsdale in 1970 and opened a Home Life agency. In 1979, he started his insurance brokerage business, Barbanell and Associates, specializing in life and disability insurance for physicians. His many professional accolades include his participation in the Million Dollar Round Table and serving as President of Life Underwriters. He served as Chairman of the Board of the Community Care Network, a major fundraising umbrella for mental health organizations and served as Chairman of the Board of the ACLU, Phoenix Chapter. He was a board member of Planned Parenthood of Central and Northern Arizona. While serving on that organization’s search committee in 1978, he met the candidate who would become the new CEO, Gloria Feldt. When she entered the room, he told another board member that he had just met his last wife, a prophecy that came true when they married on December 21, 1980. Alex was tenacious and tended to get what he wanted. He graduated from college at age 50, becoming a proud ASU alumnus with a BS in history. Since then, he has served as President of the Alumni Association of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS), where he established the CLAS Dean’s Council. He also served on the ASU National Alumni Council, was a member of the Dean’s Search Committee, and received the CLAS Achievement Award in 1987 and the ASU Alumni Service Award in 1994. When Gloria became CEO of the New York-based Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the couple began splitting their time between New York and Arizona. Alex retired in 1998 as a result. Fittingly, the National Women’s Political Caucus presented her with the Martin Abzug Supportive Spouse “Good Guy” award the following year. Once in New York, Alex became a volunteer tour guide and fossil explainer at the American Museum of Natural History, serving for 24 years, until two weeks before his death. He received their Volunteer of the Year award in 2017. He dedicated himself to the scientific work of the Institute of Human Origins at Arizona State University and served on its board of trustees from 2010 until his dead. “People most often describe Alex as ‘one of a kind’. His honesty and integrity, his intellectual curiosity and his capacity for unconditional love are what drew me to him. am incredibly grateful for 44 years of adventures with the love of my life,” Gloria said. “And his last words to me were ‘You are my love.’ Ice Cream National. Those who knew him know he had an ice cream “surprise” every night. His last was his favorite, Cherry Garcia from Ben and Jerry’s. He is survived by his wife, Gloria Feldt , and their blended family of six children: Jeffrey Barbanell; Donna Barbanell Dewberry (Allen); Carol Barbanell; Tammy Bosse (Wade Jarvis); Linda Bosse; and David (Sally) Bosse, 10 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren He has informally “adopted” and mentored many others throughout his life and career. Contributions honoring Alex are welcome through Take The Lead (www.taketheleadwomen.com/donate) or the Institute of Human Origins (https://iho.asu.edu/support-iho). The cremation took place at the Riverside Memorial Chapel in New York. A virtual shiva and storytelling about Alex will take place on August 1 on what would have been his 92nd birthday, and a celebration of his life will be held in Phoenix in the fall.
Posted July 26, 2022
Posted in The Arizona Republic