Why the Hartford Hospital Free Bed Fund Needs J. Fox Descendants

The family that once owned the famous Fox and Co Department store ready to hand over Hartford Hospital’s free bedside box control.

In a lawsuit naming Attorney General William Tong as a defendant, the hospital says descendants of Moses Fox, son of J. Fox co-founder Gerson Fox, agreed to let him name the beneficiaries of the fund, which Moses Fox started in 1936.

The “Moses Fox Free Bed Fund #2” was established “to provide a dormitory bed with free treatment for it 365 days a year.” Fox or his family members were to nominate the beneficiaries of the fund.

The G. Fox & Co. building became a building.  The former is now mixed-use commercial space and home to Capital Community College.
Stephen Dunn/Hartford Courant

The G. Fox & Co. building became a building. The former is now mixed-use commercial space and home to Capital Community College.

Free Family Trusts are created as an endowment that pays for medical care for those who cannot pay. The fund awarded to Fox began in 1936 at $20,000 but has grown to $1.35 million as of October 2022.

While the Fox family had named the recipients of the fund, the hospital said in its legal filing that there were now too many descendants scattered across the country for that to be applicable, and that the fund was not used 365 days a year.

Moses Fox (1850-1938) had three children who all died: Sophie, who died in infancy, Beatrice, who succeeded her father as president of J. Fox, and Fanny. He also had three grandchildren.

According to the lawsuit, there are now 12 great-grandchildren with the surnames Kaplan, Koopman, Solomon, Shiro, Shiro Zavilla, and Auerbach.

Attorneys for Hartford Health Care, owners of the Hartford hospital, are also appealing the judge's ruling, arguing that the entire event "Typical case of immunity" by order of the ruler.
Mark Mirko/Hartford Courant

The Hartford Hospital wants to take control of the Moses Fox Free Bed Fund, which was founded in 1936. (Hartford Courant file photo)

“Because of the large number of living descendants, and their dispersed areas, it has become impractical for the hospital to consider Moses Fox family members to continue to nominate fund beneficiaries,” the hospital says.

“As a result, the fund cannot currently benefit hospital patients 365 days a year, the way Moses Fox directs.”

With the help of his great-great-granddaughter Rina Koopman, the hospital was able to reach eight of his great-grandchildren. All nine agreed to hand over control of the fund to the hospital.

According to the lawsuit, two of his great-grandchildren were unknown to the hospital at the time, but were to have been notified of the lawsuit. 12 cannot be located.

The lawsuit states that the large number of descendants “makes communication difficult, and consensus impractical.” “Timing is especially important because nominations are very time-sensitive in order to benefit existing patients in the hospital during their admission.”

A spokeswoman for Tong, who supports the conversion according to the lawsuit, issued a statement:

The Attorney General’s Office is supporting this petition on behalf of Hartford HealthCare.

“What is happening here is the legal action required to adjust donor restrictions that have become impractical or hampered by circumstances not foreseen by the donor. … This change will allow the hospital to better comply with Moses Fox’s wishes to provide free treatment to those in need,” the statement said.

Hartford Hospital also released a statement saying, “Hartford Hospital looks forward to helping more patients, thanks to the initial generosity of the Fox family nearly 90 years ago, to her descendants today, and the attorney general’s and court’s approval.”

J founded. Fox by German immigrants Gerson and Isaac Fox in 1847. The store became a landmark and destination in downtown Hartford. It was purchased by the May Department Store Company in 1965, according to connecticuthistory.org.

The Main Street store closed in 1993 and its branches were renamed Filene.

The G. Fox Building is now a home Capital Community Collegewhich is seeking a major renovation or move to a more suitable building.

Ed Stannard can be reached at [email protected].

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