News from the Johns Hopkins Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences
Lillian Stempler was in her mid-60s when a Hopkins visit revealed her Alzheimer’s disease. She lived another 20 years. But there’s at least one bright spot: The rallying of the Stempler family in the face of all that followed has continued as strength of a different sort. Over the next two decades, two generations of Stemplers have helped shine light on the best ways to treat those with Alzheimer’s, not
only underwriting the research of psychiatrist Peter Rabins but also encouraging others to do the same.
The family’s story is a lesson. The capable running of his Maryland-based uniform company left founder Oscar Stempler financially comfortable, so when his wife fell ill, explains daughter-in-law Deana, “he could afford, thank God, to keep her with dignity.” Stempler insisted on caring for his wife at home. Yes, the CEO had someone stay with her by day, Deana explains, but “he still went through everything you could imagine.” He was the sole caregiver at night, bathing and dressing his wife, taking her to dinner while she was able.
And the rest of the family stepped in. Son Jerry and his wife, Deana, were a constant support, regularly having the elder Stemplers to dinner, tailoring their visits to Lillian’s fading abilities. “We had to cope as a family,” says Jerry, “and we did our best.”
It was shortly after the diagnosis that Oscar Stempler set up an endowment for dementia research at Hopkins. Later, after Jerry took over as CEO of the family company—seamlessly, many said—he, too, nurtured a calling for tikun olam, Hebrew for “repairing the world.”
“It’s not just something you say for an interview,” says Deana. “We feel blessed that this research is going on. We can’t wait for this disease to be eradicated.”