Stories of Remarkable People
Who Have Left Bequests to AFBIU

John Slade:

A Field Hockey Great and War Hero's Last Surprise —
Leaving a Bequest to AFBIU

When the late great field hockey goalie, John Slade, made a generous bequest to the American Friends of Bar-Ilan University (AFBIU) in 2005 it was the final surprise in his lifelong Jewish journey.

Born in Frankfurt, Germany in 1908, he grew up in a family of, in his own words, "highly assimilated Jews." The first great surprise was amazing his parents when at age 13 he asked to have a Bar Mitzvah. He personally arranged for his own private Hebrew lessons since no one in his family had ever received a Jewish education. His Bar Mitzvah marked the first time his parents entered a synagogue. It was this experience that sparked his interest in supporting Jewish educational institutions such as Bar-Ilan University later in life.

Slade, who was considered the best field hockey goalie in Germany, was expected to compete in the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. All this changed with Hitler's rise to power. Prior to an important match, his coach told him he could no longer compete because of the new, restrictive Nuremberg Laws. He immediately resigned from the club and helped form an all-Jewish sports club. When he heard that a Jew could be imprisoned for kissing an Aryan, he decided to leave Germany. Fortunately the banker who employed him in Frankfurt referred him to Joseph Bear, who gave him a $15-a-week messenger job at the investment firm of Bear, Stearns in New York City.

By 1940, he was working in risk arbitrage and had earned enough to bring his family to America, saving them from the Holocaust. Two years later he surprised everyone again by volunteering in the United States Army. "I decided that if a guy from Oklahoma could fight against Hitler, then I, too, must fight," said Slade, who conducted important interrogations of captured Nazi officers. He received a Bronze Star for his brave actions in getting 100 SS soldiers to surrender without a fight after American troops surrounded a Bavarian castle where they were meeting.

After the war, Slade surprised the athletic world by making the 1948 American Olympic field hockey team. He played through a head injury that required 10 stitches, saying he would not miss this experience for anything. "Here I was a Jewish refugee, and I played on the American team. It meant more to me than if I had won a medal for the German team in 1936."

He stayed on in Europe to create an overseas department for Bear, Stearns. In the 1980s, the firm opened a Frankfurt office, where he was received as an honored native son. The club from which he resigned offered a full apology. But the hurt feelings of those early years never fully subsided, which is among the reasons he generously supported Israeli institutions such as Bar-Ilan University — which will ensure a strong Jewish state that will be there to help Jews in peril for generations to come.

Bar-Ilan University — Where Your Legacy Can Build Israel's Future

To learn more about the best options to establish a bequest to perpetuate your support of the only university in Israel where tradition and technology thrive together, please call Gil Jacobson, National Director of Planned Giving for American Friends of Bar-Ilan University, at 212-906-3911, toll-free at 888-752-6649, or email gil.jacobson@afbiu.org.

Further information about bequests can be viewed HERE.

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