Remembering Eugene Roth: Lawyer, Philanthropist, and Wilkes University Enthusiast | New

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When prominent lawyer and philanthropist Eugene Roth moved in and renovated his family property on Riverside Drive in Wilkes-Barre following the 1972 flood, he felt he was living on the campus of his alma mater Wilkes University, even though it was actually a few meters from the school border. .

He felt it that way for the rest of his life.

“He always joked that he was the oldest of Wilkes alumni who still lived on campus. He’s told that joke once too many times, but it’s still pretty funny for people who haven’t heard it before, ”said his son and law partner Steven Roth.

Roth died in this house on Wednesday. He was 85 years old.

“The awareness of the community and the love that people have shared has been very heartwarming. I’ve heard things about my dad in the past 24 hours that I had never heard of, ”said Steven Roth last week. “I lost my father, my friend, my mentor, my legal partner. He was all of these things to me and I will miss him every day.

An accomplished lawyer, Roth was a partner at the prominent law firm of Rosenn, Jenkins and Greenwald for over 60 years. Roth was instrumental in setting up what would become the Geisinger Wyoming Valley Medical Center in his Plains Twp. campus in 1981 and later its Heart Hospital as a longtime member of the hospital advisory board. A member of the Ohav Zedek Synagogue, he was a respected leader of the local Jewish community. An expert in business and finance, Roth has served on the boards of directors of several well-known companies, including Jewelcor Incorporated, Wyoming National Bank and Commonwealth Telephone Company.

But above all, Roth’s attachment and dedication to Wilkes University could be his lasting legacy.

Wilkes forever

In his eulogy for his father, Steven Roth told mourners that his father’s four years at Wilkes “began to love the school, its faculty, its administration and its athletic programs.”

Steven Roth said his father would take him to root all of Wilkes’ sports teams growing up, rather than the Division I teams.

“A lot of people are fans of Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse. My dad didn’t like that. His thing was Wilkes,” Steven Roth said. “My dad was at Wilkes University.”

Roth served on Wilkes’ board of directors for over 40 years, including a stint as chairman. He and his wife, Connie, were also benefactors of the school, which led to the naming of buildings in honor of his late father, Max, and their late son, Larry – the Max Roth Center and the Lawrence Roth Residence Hall, respectively.

Of all the honors Roth has received in his life, he was the most proud to receive the President’s Medal from Wilkes, the school’s highest honor, in 2019, said Steven Roth.

Dr. Greg Cant, current college president, praised Roth in a statement.

“Gene Roth was one of Wilkes University’s most passionate and supportive alumni. There are few who have provided such meaningful advice and friendship to each of the university’s six previous presidents, but Gene has. For over 40 years he served on our board of trustees and helped see this university and our entire community through the most successful and difficult years, ”Cant said. “By joining the Wilkes community during the pandemic, I was unable to spend the quality time with Gene that I had hoped for. But his legacy of kindness, generosity, talent and ambition speaks for itself. He has fiercely defended our students and our mission to provide a Wilkes education to all who show potential.

Friends, colleagues remember

Dr Al Casale, chief surgical officer at Geisinger Health System and president of Heart Hospital, said Roth was an “important person” in bringing Geisinger to Plains Twp. in 1981, then later by starting his heart hospital.

“We have lost a giant,” Casale said. “He was a brilliant intellectual. He was a tactician.

As chairman of the hospital’s advisory board, Roth and his wife also helped recruit top talent, Casale recalled.

“He and Connie were amazing ambassadors for the region when we recruited new doctors. When people were about whether or not to come, you introduced them to Gene, ”Casale said. “He would sell the area like no one I have ever seen.

Roth and his wife were also benefactors of Geisinger. The hall of the heart hospital was named after their deceased son.

Lawyer Murray Ufberg, partner of Rosenn, Jenkins and Greenwald, said he had interacted with Roth almost every day for 51 years.

Their offices were on the same floor, next to each other.

“There was hardly a day that I didn’t have the opportunity – and it was the opportunity – to see him. We were very close friends. His family was like my family and vice versa. We cared about each other a lot, ”Ufberg said. “It’s a simple saying, but he was a special person. We will miss him. His ability to inspire others to follow his example of leadership, commitment and generosity will be missed.


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