David and Fern Jaffe

Jaffe's garden

Jaffe's garden

When David and Fern Jaffe were living in Cleveland, David was in the midst of a medical fellowship and Fern was expanding her midwifery practice at Case Western Reserve and Kaiser Permanente. Busy professionals, they declined several offers extended by David's colleague to check out a small, lakeside community in Western New York. Thanks to some persistence, they were eventually convinced to come and see Chautauqua for themselves. Now, more than 30 years later, the Jaffes have visited the grounds annually for many years as one-week renters, now celebrating 10 years owning their Irving Place cottage overlooking the lake... and they couldn't image it any other way.

While Fern spends every spare moment at Chautauqua dutifully converting the property surrounding their cottage into native gardens, David prefers quiet moments to simply "veg" on the porch with a book or the newspaper. Belying their active days of cycling, kayaking and attending lectures and other programming in the Amphitheater or Hall of Philosophy lawn, the couple is rooted by the refuge afforded in their corner of paradise.

This refuge has inspired David and Fern to invest in Chautauqua, first as members of the Bestor Society and most recently by naming the Institution as a beneficiary of a planned gift. David, a retired anesthesiologist, and Fern, a nurse midwife, are hopeful their three grown children — one of whom was married this summer — will continue their Chautauqua pilgrimages and benefit from the atmosphere of intellectual curiosity, inclusivity and natural beauty they enjoy here.

Affirming the totality of the Chautauqua experience, the Jaffes' gift to unspecified endowment and the gardens celebrates that every aspect of Chautauqua must be tended to, and that the Chautauqua left behind for generations who follow is supported with the flexibility to evolve, adapt and contribute to the continued exploration of the best of human values.