All of us at the Jewish Family Service of Rhode Island, including current and former board and staff members, mourn the passing of Wesley Alpert, who died July 20, at age 90. A few members of the community who knew Wesley well have shared their memories and thoughts of him.
Erin Minior, chief executive officer at JFS:“Wesley’s philanthropy has had a tremendously positive impact on the services that JFS delivers, especially to the most vulnerable Rhode Islanders. Those programs include case management, financial assistance and financial literacy coaching, Patient Partners and in-home therapy. His beloved wife, Grace, cared passionately about these individuals and, even after her death, Wesley cared for them. His generosity was quiet, and he never sought praise or recognition.”
Rabbi Leslie Y. Gutterman, rabbi emeritus at Temple Beth-El: “He and Gracie were lifelong members of Beth-El. They didn’t have children, so there was a special dimension of their devotion to one another. His heart went out to the homeless and the hungry, and he appreciated how JFS confidentially helped those individuals. Wesley had a very big heart and a crusty exterior, yet his kindness and sweetness were evident to people who knew him.”
Daniel Kertzner, senior philanthropic advisor for funding partnerships at the Rhode Island Foundation: “In the last years of his life, Wesley Alpert chose to engage and partner with us in a way that’s a real model for other philanthropists. He made huge impact in our community by allowing the Foundation to focus funding to tackle a range of challenges – from providing food for children to take home from school that will sustain them for weekend meals to providing supportive housing opportunities for those struggling with homelessness. So many have benefited from his philanthropic spirit.”
Rabbi Gutterman was kind enough to share the poem that he was asked to read at Wesley’s funeral.