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In Memory of Harold Davis, an Extraordinary Wistar Supporter

April 2, 2019

The Wistar community mourns the loss of a dear friend and one of our greatest supporters, who has given of himself generously to help Wistar for more than four decades.

Harold (Hal) M. Davis passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2019.

A successful Philadelphia businessman with a big heart and co-founder of Realen Homes in 1967, Hal joined the Wistar Board of Trustees in 1987, when then Board chair Bob Fox was searching for just the right board member to help guide the Institute. Hal accepted the invitation with enthusiasm. He was a conscientious board member, available at any time, willing to help in any area. During his 20 years on the Board, he provided counsel as Development Chair and then as Vice Chair. He was also involved in the efforts for the construction of Wistar’s Robert and Penny Fox Research Tower, which opened in 2014. 

Hal and his wife Eleanor were passionate about supporting cancer research. 

“My family history is one of cancer and I’ve always felt cancer is the worst possible disease you could have,” Hal used to say. The Davis family supported breast cancer research at Wistar through the Christopher M. Davis Memorial Fund, established in 1996 in memory of their son Christopher. Subsequently, the Christopher M. Davis Memorial Fellowship was created to support a postdoctoral fellow conducting breast cancer research at Wistar. This endowed fellowship had a profound impact on the 14 fellows it funded and on the work that was accomplished in the nine laboratories that were supported. 

In 2013, thanks to the generosity of the Davis family, the fellowship was transformed into the endowed Christopher M. Davis Professorship, which was appointed to Dmitry I. Gabrilovich, M.D., Ph.D., professor and program leader in the Immunology, Microenvironment and Metastasis Program of Wistar’s National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center.

“Hal and Eleanor have been Wistar’s steadfast partners for 40 years and were pivotal in fostering a transformed and reimagined Wistar Institute,” said Russel E. Kaufman, M.D., Wistar’s President Emeritus, who enjoyed Hal’s friendship and advice during his time at the helm of the Institute. “Hal was a generous, loyal and committed man who, when he believed in a cause like Wistar, got behind it 100%. He was truly extraordinary and will be greatly missed.”