Alfred B. Abraham, in Memoriam
MCNY Board of Directors, CPA
Born on April 16, 1920, in Tarrytown, New York, Alfred Abraham served on the Musicians Club of New York’s Board of Directors and was a steady patron for many years until his death, three months shy of his 102nd birthday. For years, until the pandemic cancelled the Club's live concert series following the February 2020 concert, Alfred served as host/greeter at the entrance table to the concerts and competitions, offering his warm smile and personal charm to all, as they entered. He was also not shy about reminding members and attendees that although the Club's concerts were free of charge, they were not free to stage, and that donations were easily accepted at the door, and that volunteers were always needed... Everyone needs someone like Alfred Abraham to bless their events. So let us all try to be more like him, at least in this one regard.
A CPA and commercial bank CFO and Treasurer during his business career, his love for music began at an early age––as in many Jewish homes, studying music was a requirement. He fondly remembers playing violin in the Washington Irving High School orchestra in Tarrytown, New York, and listening to the weekly Damrosch Hour––hosted by Walter Damrosch, the great early leader of the Musicians Club of New York––which was broadcast throughout every classroom in the school during the years 1932-1936. Like so many others in all walks of life, Alfred looked back at his early music training as crucial to his success in his career, as well as in life. Being an active member and patron of the Musicians Club of New York was one way he “gave back”. Giving back was his consistent theme throughout his life, even more so in his retirment. Officially, he retired in 1978, but he continued as a highly compensated consultant until approximately 1998. Among the scores of charities that he supported, UJA, NYU, MCNY, and the Town and Village Synagogue were his major philanthropic recipients in the last chapters of his life here on earth.
Immediately after completing high school, Al went away from his home in Tarrytown for one year of college at the University of Michigan. Although he remembers this year fondly, developing lifelong friendships, he remembers the difficulty of antisemitism that prevailed, even in the availability of student housing. But, also, he remembers his own family’s financial inability to send him back for his second year. Instead, his father was able to secure him a clerk’s position at a local bank near his home, where he developed his interest in finance and accounting. He followed his older cousin Leonard and enrolled at NYU (School of Commerce, now the Stern School of Business) and commuted to his night classes. Al remembers the grind––returning home from a day at the bank for an early supper, and then rushing off to catch the 4:38pm train to Manhattan in time for his first class at 6pm, returning to Tarrytown after 10pm. He graduated in 1941 and was a proud, active alumnus until his death in 2022. Among his donations to “give back”, he established the Alfred B. Abraham Scholarship Fund for NYU Stern undergraduate students, permitting future generations to benefit from the same opportunities his NYU education provided. In addition to his scholarship, Al was a longstanding contributing member of NYU Stern’s Haskins Giving Society and the Society of the Torch, returning to campus frequently, meeting students, faculty and other alumni, always inspiring others with his stories of how his education contributed to his success.
His first job was at a major accounting firm, then at Estée Lauder as their first Controller after their founding in 1946. Following a career as a financial executive, he accepted the position of Treasurer and Financial Vice President at Congress Financial, an early leader in asset-based lending, later known as CoreStates, which became part of the Bank of Philadelphia and, eventually, part of Wells Fargo. It may have seemed incongruent to have an elder statesman lecture you on some of the more esoteric functions of his iPhone, particularly the accessibility functions as he lost more and more of his sight, but, along the way, Al introduced his bank to mainframe computers and taught himself coding (punch card, of course) and hardware, in order to make purchasing decisions and to customize software. It kept him in good stead with the ferocious pace of technology that continued throughout his lifetime.
He served at NYU and CUNY as a lecturer and adjunct instructor, teaching retail finance management courses. He was a frequent contributor to finance and accounting journals. Alfred also traveled around the globe throughout his life, for work out of curiosity and for pleasure. His collection of pictures from his travels is myriad, and we hope to bring some of them to this page in the future, He encouraged everyone to travel as much as possible in order to get the most out of life and to understand the world as much as possible. There is a Travel section in the "ALFRED ABRAHAM: 101" video below that gives a quick flash of pictures to give you a taste.
Click here for the link to the New York Times online obiturary.
Click here for the article, "Tarrytown Native Reflects on Turning 100" in The Hudson Independent.
Video of highlights from Alfred's 101 years, presented at his Zoom Birthday, April 2021
Alfred Abraham's speech near the end of his 101st Birthday Zoom Party.
Alfred B. Abraham's 95th Birthday Celebration-Redeye Grill, NYC, June 14, 2015
Click on the time below to jump to that part of the program.
0:00 Dan Frischman, nephew, Opening Magic and Monologue
5:58 Gary Frischman, nephew, Poem for Uncle Al
11:33 Debra Kerner, niece, Ode to Uncle Al
12:56 Ron Braunfeld, partner of Debra, Little Poem
14:00 Lawrence Lefkowitz, nephew - Uncle Al, Role Model
15:58 Donna Lefkowitz, Larry's wife: Progress Report on Uncle Al
18:51 Dan Frischman, The Year 1920, Part 1
20:36 Judith Anderson, niece, The Year 1920 Part 2
25:35 Bill Frischman, nephew, Song "16+79 Candles"
29:37 Andy, Ali, Audrey, Laura, Joel, Gabe, Jody, Amy, Michelle, grandnephews and nieces, The Uncle Al Song
41:00 Marvin Butterman, cousin, Recollection
42:10 Dan Frischman with Andy, Ali, Audrey and Laura, The Unc Song
46:24 Alfred Bernard Abraham, Closing Remarks
Alfred B. Abraham, 94, and Melvin Diamond, 91, Discuss Family History, July 20, 2014
Alfred B. Abraham, 94, and his cousin Robert Frankel, Discuss Family History, Spring 2014
Celebrating Uncle Al's 90th Birthday, A Video Presentation
Alfred B. Abraham's 80th Birthday Celebration, Westin Morristown Hotel-July 2, 2000
38:34 Alfred's Acceptance Speech
Incidentallink featuring Alfred:
Sitting with his friend, composer/singer Mira J. Spektor, as a younger Mira sings her song, "Il neige dans mon coeur":