Jane Korman, Philanthropist Who Supported Arts and Health Care, Dies at 81

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After Jane Korman was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007, she spent the next decade working to improve the lives of others fighting the same battle. She and her husband, Leonard Korman, are credited with vastly expanding respiratory research and care at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health.

Jane Korman
Jane Korman (Courtesy of Alison Korman)

Sadly, while the medical infrastructure she helped build endures, Jane Korman died of lung cancer on Oct. 5. She was 81.

She was born in Philadelphia, attended Cheltenham High School and graduated from what is now Arcadia University with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts. In 1957, she married Leonard Korman, who became chairman and CEO of Korman Commercial Properties Inc., a real estate development and management company. The couple lived in Fort Washington and Jupiter, Florida, but wherever they went, Jane Korman’s passion for the arts followed.

In 1977, she co-founded the Sign of the Swan Craft Gallery in Chestnut Hill, which was one of Philadelphia’s first contemporary American craft galleries. Soon thereafter, she opened The Swan Gallery near Rittenhouse Square.

She also served on the boards of the American Craft Council and Fabric Workshop and Museum. More recently, she was a director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s annual craft show and a member of several of its committees. She was named an honorary trustee by the Barnes Foundation and was a trustee of the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum, where she was the driving force behind the Out on a Limb exhibit, a netted tree house structure that allows for views of the forest from 50 feet up.

Korman was a supporter of the Foster + Partners expansion at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida. And in New York City she was a trustee of the Museum of Arts and Design.

Korman turned author in 2010 with Splendid Settings: The Art + Craft of Entertaining, featuring 69 original recipes for dining parties. Here she displayed her artistry, showcasing creative table-setting ideas.

At Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, the Kormans helped establish the Jane and Leonard Korman Family Healing Garden, which was dedicated in 2013 and designed, in part, by Jane Korman. The couple also launched a center for lung diseases at Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health in 2012. They later endowed a professorship in pulmonary medicine and received Jefferson’s Award of Merit in 2013.

In 2017, the couple helped found the Jane and Leonard Korman Respiratory Institute, a collaboration between Jefferson Health and National Jewish Health. This brought state-of-the-art care and clinical trials to Philadelphia.

Gregory Kane, who is the first Jane and Leonard Korman Professor of Pulmonary Medicine, said that unlike typical donors, Jane Korman was invested beyond financial contributions.

“Jane’s commitment to heal the world manifests through what we were able to do with her support,” Kane said. “It’s unusual to see a donor want to give so much support beyond the finances, and it was a privilege of a lifetime to partner with Jane and Leonard to help realize their vision for the respiratory institute.”

Among her other philanthropic initiatives, Jane Korman was also a donor to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

She is survived by her husband, three daughters and seven grandchildren.

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