Great institutions have transformational champions who have made extraordinary investments in them. Susquehanna would not be Susquehanna without the vision, commitment and generosity of the late Charles B. Degenstein and the stewards of the foundation he created to extend his legacy in perpetuity. In honor of the 20th anniversary of the Charles B. Degenstein Foundation, Susquehanna currents proudly pays tribute to the legacy of Charles Degenstein and the foundation's board of directors, led by Charles' trusted advisor and friend Sidney Apfelbaum H'09, and his sons Michael H'09 and Jeffrey H'09 Apfelbaum.
In the Beginning
Not long after Susquehanna's founding in 1858, a German immigrant named Sigfried Weis and his wife, Claire, settled in Selinsgrove, Pa. They found a way to send their two sons, Sigmund and Harry, to Susquehanna University. After graduating in 1903 and 1900, respectively, the brothers went to work in their father's general store. However, they had bigger dreams than a local dry goods business, and in 1912, they formed Weis Pure Foods in nearby Sunbury, Pa.
Meanwhile, Charles Degenstein's family was moving from his birthplace in Atlantic City, N.J., to Philadelphia, where his father established D. Degenstein & Co., a ladies' coat and suit manufacturer. The son of Austrian immigrants David and Bertha Beckman Degenstein, Charles cut his teeth in the business world by accompanying his father on sales trips. Following graduation from Central High School in Philadelphia, Charles attended Temple University and the Charles Morris Price School of Advertising before beginning a career in business.
It was in Philadelphia that Charles met and married Sigmund Weis' only daughter, Claire Elizabeth, or "Betty," as she was known. Shortly after their marriage, the newlyweds moved to Sunbury, where Charles joined his father-in-law in building Weis Pure Foods into the highly successful Weis Markets we know today.
As a native of the area, Betty inspired the generosity to the region for which Charles is so well known. This was her community, and she was committed to giving back to it. Sadly, Charles lost Betty in 1978, but his second wife, Lore H'09, became a similar source of inspiration for him.
Charles married the former Lore A. Tromsdorf Stock on Jan. 3, 1980. She quickly became a staunch supporter of Susquehanna and inspired her husband's philanthropic efforts. A 1992 addition to the Charles B. Degenstein Campus Center included the Lore Degenstein Gallery. Since then the gallery has been the focal point of a rich and diverse exhibition program that supports academic investigations and contributes to the cultural life of central Pennsylvania. Lore continues to be engaged in the life of the university through her namesake gallery.