A legacy of dignity

Pooh and Charlie Ritchie

"Adirondack Foundation gives us beneficial gift planning and grant support. You get the expert local advice, the publicity, and personal connection. The Foundation is a terrific asset to the area. It’s a natural place to invest your charitable assets."—Jay Federman, Dignified Death Fund

In addition to a lifetime of giving back to the Tri-Lakes, Charlie and Mary Anne “Pooh” Ritchie created a legacy by leaving money with their longtime family doctor, Jay Federman, as thanks for the compassionate care he gave them. In turn, Federman established the Dignified Death Fund at Adirondack Foundation.

“I thought it was the most appropriate thing in view of the fact that they were so grateful,” he said. “I think it’s a really important choice that people should have—to have some control over their own death.”

Federman’s relationship with the Ritchies dates back to his time as an intern in the suburbs of Philadelphia. He was introduced to them through his professor, the Ritchies’ family doctor. Years later, when they retired to their camp on Upper Saranac Lake in 1976, Federman became their new physician.

“They were friends and patients,” Federman said. “I think that they had a pact that if either of them got sick there wouldn’t be any aggressive medical care.”

After Mary Anne’s death, Charlie also became ill and moved to a retirement community. When the medical problems mounted, he returned home to Upper Saranac to die.

“He rallied just from the emotional benefit of coming home to a place they loved,” Federman said. “And then he decided he was ready when his time came.”

In New York State, any individual who wants to refuse nutrition and hydration can do so legally. With his family’s support, Charlie passed away peacefully on his own terms.

“I want this fund at Adirondack Foundation to promote that concept, and dialogue, education, professional development, and advocacy concerning end of life decisions,” Federman said.

Federman, with support from the Foundation, is researching efforts the fund can support. If you want to get involved, contact us: (518) 523-9904 or cali@adkfoundation.org.