Robert Harold Arnow

Robert Harold Arnow

Robert Harold Arnow, a real estate developer and philanthropist, died on Dec. 15 at age 94 in his Scarsdale home.

Born in Roxbury, Massachusetts, to Leon and Eleanor Aronovitz, Mr. Arnow worked in his father’s drug store starting at age 11. After serving in the Navy, he graduated from Massachusetts College of Pharmacy intending to work with his father. Life took a different course when he married Joan Weiler in 1949, daughter of Doris and Jack Weiler, a real estate developer. The couple moved to Scarsdale in 1953, where they raised four children.

In partnership with the Swig family of San Francisco, Mr. Arnow worked with his father-in-law and brother-in-law, Alan Weiler, for decades until most of the buildings were sold in 1997. Among his many development projects was the Grace Building on 42nd Street opposite Bryant Park.

Mr. Arnow’s interest in philanthropy developed under the tutelage of his father-in-law, but soon began to reflect his own special interests, Jewish education among them. He served as chairman of the board at Israel’s Ben Gurion University of the Negev for a decade. Under his leadership, the university established a center to support Bedouin students. He was the first to establish an endowed scholarship fund for Bedouin women, which has been credited not only for improving the lives of recipients but of the Bedouin community as a whole.

Mr. Arnow’s concern for the Bedouin grew out of his commitment to Jewish values. He often cited the biblical verse, “Know the heart of the stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

His interest in the Bedouin also reflected his passion for nature, gardening and raising animals. Mr. and Mrs. Arnow’s flower garden sat at the corner of Butler and Paddington roads for more than 60 years. In 1968, the couple purchased a farm in Columbia County where they raised cows, sheep and goats. In later years, Mr. Arnow’s philanthropic interests included the preservation of the Hudson River Valley and support for young farmers in that region.

After his wife died in 2010, Mr. Arnow continued traveling and took up oil painting. The JCC of Mid-Westchester mounted two exhibits of his landscapes.

Mr. Arnow’s family said “he saw the glass as half full and was particularly fond of a phrase from the 23rd Psalm, ‘My cup runneth over.’ His warm-hearted generosity flowed from memories of hard times during the Great Depression and an abiding belief that his good fortune was meant to be shared with others.”

Mr. Arnow is survived by his four children and their spouses, David (Madeleine), Peter (Kathi), Joshua (Elyse), and Ruth, 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

The family thanks Ingrid Jones for her “loving and tireless devotion” to Mr. and Mrs. Arnow’s care and Miguel Espinosa for “years of loyal service.” The family also thanks Madeline Dwyer, Yvonne Hackett, Patricia Walker-Scott, Peggy Poku, Susanna Ofori, Tamara Edwards and Carol Rowe for “their kindness” in helping to care for Mr. Arnow in his last years.

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