Jane Korman, 81, of Fort Washington and Jupiter, Fla., a noted hostess, art connoisseur, and, along with her husband, Leonard I. Korman, a philanthropic force in the area, died Saturday, Oct. 5, of lung cancer at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
Mrs. Korman was born in Philadelphia and graduated from Cheltenham High School. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from Arcadia University.
In 1957, she married Korman, who became chairman and CEO of Korman Commercial Properties Inc., a real estate development and management company in Trevose.
Over the years, the couple embarked on a course of philanthropy benefiting institutions such as Jefferson Health, Einstein Medical Center Montgomery, and Morris Arboretum.
In 2007, Mrs. Korman was diagnosed with lung cancer. Although she beat back the disease with treatment at Jefferson, the ordeal left an indelible imprint on the family.
“Jane and I know what it’s like to live with a disease that threatens something as fundamental to life as your breathing,” Korman said in a news release. “It’s been our dream to help provide a premier resource for respiratory health for the community.”
In 2012, the couple launched a center for lung diseases, bringing medical talent to Jefferson and later endowing a professorship in pulmonary medicine. In 2013, the Kormans were honored with Jefferson’s prestigious Award of Merit.
In 2017, they established the Jane and Leonard Korman Respiratory Institute, a collaboration between Jefferson Health and National Jewish Health, a leading respiratory hospital and research center in New York.
The aim was to expand Jefferson’s ability to treat lung disease and other pulmonary conditions through innovative research and expanded clinical programs.
"Her graciousness and generosity have made a difference at Jefferson and in Philadelphia that’s beyond measure. We will be forever grateful for her legacy here,” said Stephen K. Klasko, president of Thomas Jefferson University and CEO of Jefferson Health.
Mrs. Korman believed strongly in the healing power of nature. She led a project to hang photos and paintings of nature in Einstein Medical Center Montgomery in East Norriton. Then she recruited help to get the project done.
“Jane was very good at engaging lots of people,” said Paul W. Meyer, a longtime friend. “The hospital today is decorated in the patients’ rooms and the public space with scenes of plants and gardens because of Jane and Leonard.”
She undertook a second project, to build a healing garden with plantings and seating in front of the hospital. “The idea is that the patients and family and caregivers can go out and refresh themselves in the garden setting,” Meyer said. “It was her vision.”
In 1977, Mrs. Korman co-founded the Sign of the Swan Craft Gallery in Chestnut Hill, one of the first contemporary American craft galleries in Philadelphia. She followed that with the Swan Gallery near Rittenhouse Square. Both closed in 1989.
Mrs. Korman served on the boards of the Fabric Workshop and Museum and the American Craft Council. She served on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s women’s committee and was an honorary trustee of the Barnes Foundation.
A gracious hostess, Mrs. Korman planned elegant parties with special table settings. “She was the consummate hostess with a keen eye for beauty and a warm heart for making every guest feel they were the center of her attentions,” Klasko said.
She combined her love of contemporary art, craft, and design in her 2010 book, Splendid Settings: The Art and Craft of Entertaining, a compendium of table settings for entertaining. It was released through the Museum of Arts and Design.
Mrs. Korman’s “happy place was a bench in her garden,” her family said, and she wanted to make nature accessible to all. A longtime, generous trustee of the Morris Arboretum of the University of Pennsylvania, she conceived of and made possible the Out on a Limb tree house.
The exhibit provides a view of trees from a canopy walkway 50 feet above the ground. When it opened in 2009, attendance and membership in the Chestnut Hill arboretum rose substantially, said Meyer, the arboretum’s former executive director.
“Not only was it an artistic success, but it also helped the arboretum weather the recession years,” he said. “It was her vision that resulted in that exhibit.”
Besides her husband, she is survived by daughters Alison Korman Feldman, Susan Schurr, and Catherine Altman, and seven grandchildren.
Services will be at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel, 8339 Old York Rd., Elkins Park. Interment is private.