The Marron name was already synonymous with The Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.
For the better part of three generations, the Bergen County family has supported the hospital’s endeavors. Some of perhaps the most noticeable support came from the late Dorothy Marron, who established endowments for pastoral and neonatal care, and for whom the hospital’s fourth-floor Critical Care Unit is named.
The latest gift comes by way of Dorothy’s nephew, Ed, who recently donated $2 million to establish the Darlene L. Marron Chair for Children’s Services at Valley, in honor of his late wife. “It’s wonderful to see how powerful philanthropy can be and what kind of difference it can make in the community,” says Anastasios Kozaitis, president of The Valley Hospital Foundation. Marron’s gift will be perpetual, with annual earned income going toward funding and expanding children’s programs and services.
“Doing this achieves many things for me,” says Marron, a resident of Ho-Ho-Kus. “First, it’s a wonderful way to remember my wife. Second, it’s been a family tradition to support Valley. And third, the donation is a way to touch everyone in the community. That’s important to us.”
‘An exceptional woman’
A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, Marron recalls how he met his wife, Darlene, at the Wharton Club in New York during one of the alumni organization’s monthly meetings. Beautiful and bright, Darlene, a native of Auburn NY, held an MBA from New York University and at the time worked as a senior financial analyst at American Airlines. “A friend from college brought her and introduced her to me. My friend knew we would hit it off, and he was right,” says Marron, who spent his career in property finance in New York City. “My wife was an exceptional woman.”
The couple was married for more than 42 years before Darlene’s death on Sept. 6, 2014, from cholangiocarcinoma, a rare form of cancer. She had been diagnosed less than two years prior at Valley and had appeared to have the cancer beat following surgery and chemotherapy, when she took a turn for the worse.
From a husband’s perspective, “It’s hard to articulate when you go through something like this, how important it is to have people like those at Valley who gave me the emotional support and insight, in layman’s terms, into what we were dealing with,” Marron says. “That level of support was astounding.” It made the decision to make a donation in memory of his wife that much easier, he says, and only solidified why his family has always been big Valley supporters.
A commitment to the community
Like the Marrons, Frank Manginello, M.D., has long-established ties to Valley. He’s been practicing there for nearly 30 years, serving as director of neonatology for 25 years before being named Director of Children’s Services for Valley Medical Group almost two years ago. He serves on the Foundation board, alongside Marron’s brother, Peter, and is their brother-in-law.
In perhaps the kind of plot twist only fate can provide, Dr. Manginello has also been named the first Darlene L. Marron Chair for Children’s Services, meaning Marron’s gift will go toward the very programs his brother-in-law innovates. Though they had no children of their own, Ed and Darlene Marron shared a passion for supporting Valley’s services for the pediatric community.
“I’m always tuned into the needs of the pediatric and women’s communities, and my vision for this is very broad-based,” Dr. Manginello says. He sees the donation helping a wide range of ambulatory programs, including gastrointestinal (GI), endocrine, pulmonary, sleep and child development services. It will also support new endeavors, such as the child wellness and nutrition program starting up this spring, as well as those Valley staples that already see a lot of foot traffic, such as the Kireker Center for Child Development, which logs about 20,000 patient visits annually. In addition, the donation will benefit efforts that are still in the works, including a child and adolescent psychiatry and psychology program.
“This was really a perfect match for what we’re all trying to achieve, and I’m honored,” says Dr. Manginello of the appointment.
Marron says he and his wife had planned to make a sizeable donation to Valley even before they knew her cancer was terminal. “They’ve been there for us, for people we know, and we just cherish it,” he says of the hospital.