Mary Benjamin Arnstein, a pioneer in women's participation on public and private boards, an advocate for women's advancement and health issues, and a homemaker in Hamden, died September 3, 2012, at age 85. She was the daughter of Helen Weil Benjamin and Robert Morris Benjamin of New York City.
Born in New York City, Mrs. Arnstein was a member of the Friends Seminary Class of '44 and the Vassar College Class of '47.
In 1947, she married Dr. Robert L. Arnstein of New York City. They moved to New Haven, CT in 1952, where she started her community service in 1955 as the treasurer of the Vassar Club of New Haven.
Over the years she contributed to 29 organizations and received eight awards in appreciation of her contributions. Mrs. Arnstein was the first recipient of Women's Health Research at Yale's Women of Vision Award; an inaugural founder of the Community Fund for Women & Girls; one of the first women to be honored with the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce Community Leadership Award; one of the first three special honorees of the YWCA of New Haven's Annual Women in Leadership Award; the first woman to be elected as trustee of the Connecticut Savings Bank; the first woman elected to the board of directors of the New Haven Water Company; and the second woman elected to the board of trustees at Yale-New Haven Hospital.
Soon after Yale College began admitting women, Mrs. Arnstein served as Acting Special Assistant to Yale University President Kingman Brewster, Jr. and was Chair of the University Committee on the Education of Women. In 1983, she was awarded the Yale Medal, the highest honor the Association of Yale Alumni bestows for outstanding individual service to the university.
Mrs. Arnstein is survived by her children, Katharine Arnstein of Brighton, MA, Douglas Arnstein of San Francisco, CA, and Anne Arnstein of Wallingford, CT. She was predeceased by her husband and her daughter, Sarah Arnstein. She is also survived by her two grandchildren, Elena Arnstein of Astoria, NY and Jason of Los Angeles, CA.
A celebration of her life and reception in her honor will be held on Thursday, Sept. 13, 2012 at 1 p.m. at the New Haven Lawn Club, 193 Whitney Ave, New Haven. In lieu of flowers, gifts in her memory may be made to The Community Foundation Fund for Women and Girls, 70 Audubon St., New Haven, CT 06510, Women's Health Research at Yale, P. O. Box 208091, New Haven, CT 06520-8091, or the charity of your choice .
Arrangements with the Hawley Lincoln Memorial, 493 Whitney Ave., New Haven.