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SMC Emeritus College Receives $1 Million Gift

Zelda Herman at 75 in 1985

The Santa Monica College Foundation is pleased to announce that it has received a $1.038 million gift from the estate of Zelda Herman for SMC’s renowned Emeritus College for older adults.

The gift is the largest ever to Emeritus College and the fourth largest in the history of SMC. The funds will be used to supplement programs at Emeritus.

Herman, a long-time Santa Monica resident and Emeritus College student for more than 20 years, died May 18, 2009 at the age of 99. She is survived by two sons, Arthur and Brian.

“We are so grateful to receive this incredible gift and humbled by the generosity of the Herman family’s bequest,” said Emeritus College Associate Dean Ron Furuyama. “This gift provides us with the opportunity to carry on in the fine tradition of Emeritus and provide our students with excellent programs and services.”

Family members say that Emeritus College was an extremely important part of Herman’s life. She started taking Emeritus College classes before the death of her husband, Samuel, in 1982, and continued taking classes through 2004.

Her granddaughter Leesl Herman says that her grandmother enrolled in professor Bonnie Kramer’s Bereavement Support and Implications of Aging classes after the death of her husband left her feeling anxious and concerned about her aging and sudden independence.

“She enrolled in every one of Bonnie’s classes she could,” Leesl Herman said. “This gift is a tribute to Bonnie Kramer as much as it is to Emeritus College.”

“Emeritus is my lifeline, my support group,” Zelda Herman said in an article published in an Emeritus College class schedule. “Everybody loves being in a class with Bonnie because she really listens.”

Kramer has since retired and is now living in Oregon.

Emeritus College is SMC’s widely praised program that was founded 35 years ago and currently serves about 3,500 older adults with 150 classes and special programs.