Giving in Hope

Rose Ellerbrock in front of the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences building.

Rose Ellerbrock

During her lifetime, Rose Ellerbrock established a series of well-funded charitable gift annuities with UB, ensuring a steady stream of guaranteed income for herself while benefiting the university with each contribution. When she passed away in November 2022 at age 94, UB was named in her will as the sole beneficiary of her substantial estate. What’s surprising about her generosity is that Ellerbrock never attended UB. Instead, she felt strongly that the medical research happening there could help families like hers in the future.

My mother and husband both passed away from cancer, so I put UB into my will,” Ellerbrock explained in a letter to the university before her death. “With all the newer, younger people at UB with different ideas, I thought of possibly helping to develop a cure for cancer. My gift gives them the opportunity to work on this.”

Ellerbrock’s brother Oshei attended UB on the GI Bill, and later died of complications related to diabetes. Her gifts are directed to the Rose Ellerbrock Endowment Fund created to benefit the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences to support research efforts to improve the treatment of diabetes and cancer.

Born in Buffalo in 1928 to parents who fled WWI-torn Europe, her life began as the Great Depression was on the horizon. Jobs were scarce for everyone, especially for people who didn’t speak English, like her parents. She began working at an insurance company as soon as she graduated from Grover Cleveland High School, but when her father passed away in 1950, she had no choice but to seek a better-paying job to help her family.

She applied for a position at Trico, which was still making bullets under a contract for the Army, and she worked there for 42 years on the shop floor, ascending to the role of manager–both uncommon positions for women at the time. Trico founder John R. Oishei talked to his employees often about the importance of investing for the future, so she took his advice and began investing in securities and bonds early in her career.

After retirement, Ellerbrock was an active volunteer with the Amherst Senior Center where she organized dinner groups, was a frequent attendee at UB events, and an impeccable dresser. Always independent and a little bit feisty, Ellerbrock made her intentions clear.

“I have no heirs, and I figured I am not going to give my money to the government,” Ellerbrock told Wendy Irving, associate vice president for planned giving. Instead, her gift leaves a lasting legacy for future generations in honor of Ellerbrock and the family members she lost.

Published February 28, 2024