Bonnie Reiss, Education Philanthropist

June 25, 1945 - Sept. 04, 2017
Bonnie Reiss, June 25, 1945 - Sept. 04, 2017

Bonnie Feldman Reiss, who helped numerous students go to college through the Reiss Family Scholarship Fund, died at her New York City apartment on Monday at the age of 72. She had spent the final weeks of her life at the house she built on Apaquogue Road in East Hampton, which she loved. Her family said the cause of death was pancreatic cancer.

Ms. Reiss graduated from the Garden School and from New York University and the N.Y.U. School of Law, where she became vice chairwoman of the board of trustees. She worked as a lawyer in New York City for more than a decade, representing the Federal Trade Commission, Macmillan Publishers, and J.C. Penny, before she chose to concentrate on being a parent and doing educational and charitable work.

In East Hampton, she was a member of the board of directors of Guild Hall.  She also was on the board of the Big Apple Circus and Midori and Friends, a music education program. She had been active in the Parents Association of the Brearley School in New York City.

Ms. Reiss was born on June 25, 1945, in Forest Hills to Herman Feldman and the former Helen Segal. She met Rick Reiss, who was to be her husband for 48 years, at law school. They were married on May 25, 1969.

With her husband, she founded the Reiss Family Scholarship Fund, which now supports eight Dartmouth College students each year, two undergraduates at Harvard University, and three law students at N.Y.U. She endowed the Bonnie and Richard Reiss Chair in Constitutional Law at the N.Y.U. School of Law and a series on constitutional law at the New York Historical Society. 

In 2015, she was honored by Prep for Prep for her support of its efforts to identify and prepare minority students to excel amid the rigors of New York City private schools.

Ms. Reiss’s family said that she possessed a love of art, design, and architecture, which showed in her collection of photography and contemporary art, as well as in her grandchildren’s tree house. They said her life was one of contribution, commitment, and caring.

Ms. Reiss is survived by her husband and her children, Lauren Reiss Frank and Michael Reiss, both of New York City, and three grandchildren. Rabbi Joshua Davidson led a service for her at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan yesterday.

Donations in Ms. Reiss’s memory have been suggested to Cycle for Survival, Team Reiss Pieces, care of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York 10065.