The Robert E. Zoellner Fund at Hope & Heroes, Columbia University Medical Center
The Hope & Heroes community mourns the passing of one of its own, Robert E. Zoellner (Bob), on December 23rd. He was 82. Noted American philanthropists, Mr. Zoellner and his wife, Victoria Eckert Zoellner, were long-time generous supporters of Hope & Heroes’ work on behalf of children with cancer and blood disorders at Columbia University Medical Center. Other philanthropic endeavors include the establishment of the Zoellner Arts Center at Lehigh University, which today is one of the premier performing arts centers in the Lehigh Valley, as well as the New York Botanical Gardens, the Trinity-Pawling School and numerous worthy causes in Bergen County, N.J., where the Zoellners lived. Mr. Zoellner also remained committed to his alma mater, Lehigh University, where he sat on the National Leadership Committee and where he served with his wife as an honorary trustee of the university.
A highly accomplished businessman, Mr. Zoellner, with Mrs. Zoellner, founded the successful 38 year old investment firm Alpine Associates Advisors, which specializes in merger arbitrage and long/short equity trading. The firm has the distinction of being one of the first independent investment managers in the country. Mrs. Zoellner continues as President of Alpine Associates. A true pioneer and a titan in the merger arbitrage business, some people thought of Mr. Zoellner as an investment “guru” — a characterization that he actively discouraged. Alpine’s success, he insisted, was not due to his singular genius, but rather the result of building a strong team, mentored by him and Mrs. Zoellner, that followed a disciplined, consistent approach to investing. He lived for teamwork and camaraderie, and he believed strongly that success is much sweeter when it can be shared
Robert Emil Zoellner was born on April 26, 1932, in Irvington, New Jersey, to Emil John Zoellner and the former Anna Elizabeth Morton. He grew up in East Paterson, New Jersey, now called Elmwood Park. After graduating from Lodi High School in 1950, he attended Lehigh, where he was co-captain of the ice hockey team and enrolled in Air Force ROTC. He received a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1954 and then served two years in the U.S. Air Force.
Mr. Zoellner’s personal passions included fly fishing, bird hunting, tennis and supporting the New York Rangers, Giants and Yankees. He was also an avid stamp collector. Remarkably, in 1996, he became only the second person to amass every U.S. postage stamp ever produced, dating to the middle of the 19th century.
In addition to his wife, Mr. Zoellner is survived by his three children, Robert E. Zoellner Jr., Alisanne Zoellner and Gordon Alexander Uehling III; and seven grandchildren.
A service for immediate family was held on Monday December 29, 2014. The family is planning a memorial service for his extended family and friends on a date to be announced. Our condolences go out to Mr. Zoellner’s family and friends at this difficult time.
In lieu of flowers, the family has requested that donations be made to The Robert E. Zoellner Fund at Hope & Heroes. Donations can be made either via credit card by clicking the link above or by sending a check to: Hope & Heroes, The Robert E. Zoellner Fund, Columbia University Medical Center, 161 Fort Washington Avenue, Irving Pavilion – 7th Floor, New York, NY 10032.
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