Philanthropists Rock the New Jersey Healthcare World
An extraordinary gift will increase access to Monmouth Medical Center’s high-quality programs and services.
Driven by an enduring bond to their childhood hometown and an understanding of the depth and breadth of human flourishing that good health provides, Anne and Sheldon Vogel know that there is no better investment than in the healthcare of the people in our communities. Their staggering, transformational $50 million gift to Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch, New Jersey, the first of its magnitude to a healthcare institution in the state, is a reflection of their trust and confidence in the organization’s vision for quality care and leadership to make it happen.
Both Anne and Sheldon were born at Monmouth, then called Monmouth Memorial Hospital. As a child, Sheldon was dependable and trustworthy, and his mother had a hunch he would be good with finance. “I’d get a bit of an allowance from my mom. It was a quarter for me and a quarter for my older brother. But I’d get the whole 50 cents and was responsible for doling it out for both of us—three cents for the bus, five for the movies,” he says, reflecting back nearly 80 years. His mother was right. A lifetime of business acumen and leadership has made him remarkably successful.
Following two years in Germany serving the U.S. Army, Sheldon started working as a controller in his family’s business, Vogels Department Store in Long Branch. There, he learned not only the value of fiscal responsibility but the fulfillment that comes from being part of a community. Importantly, he also met Anne, the local police chief’s teenage daughter, who worked in the store’s business office. She would become both the love of his life and his philanthropic partner.
“My father was a frequent customer at Vogels. One day, Sheldon’s uncle asked Dad if there was anything he could do for him,” Anne says. “And my dad said, ‘Well, I’ve got a daughter who needs a job!’” But Anne’s father wasn’t just a matchmaker; he was a pillar of the Long Branch community and lived his life devoted to service and the betterment of the community, a virtue that has been passed on to Anne.
After years working in retail, Sheldon was introduced to Ahmet Ertegun, co-founder of the famed Atlantic Records, whose company needed a new controller. Uneasy about his lack of experience in the industry, Sheldon candidly reported, “I don’t know much about music.” The response came in the form of a question: “What do you have to know; can you add columns and subtract and multiply?”
With that, he entered the music world in what would become one of the industry’s most iconic periods. It was a magical age for music and Atlantic’s roster included giants such as Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, Aretha Franklin, Bette Midler, Led Zeppelin, AC/DC and the Rolling Stones. Sheldon was often on the road for business travel. Never wanting to be apart, Anne frequently accompanied him. Atlantic went on to acquire other labels and more artists. While many in management were at the clubs, assessing talent until the wee hours of the morning, Sheldon was busy managing the numbers, keeping costs under control and making sure the company prospered.
His paychecks were a far cry from those 25 cent allowances of his childhood. “I was lucky to make all that money,” Sheldon says. “When I graduated college in 1953, all of us thought that if we made $12,000 a year then, wow! That would really be it.” As time passed, he recognized that he had enough. “The money was building up. We had no use for it but to count it. In order to do good in the world, we started getting involved with charities.”
Committed to sharing their wealth, Anne and Sheldon have championed causes they believe in, such as the arts, animal welfare and of course, healthcare. Anne, in particular, felt strongly that the couple give back to their hometown and neighbors by investing in healthcare, which, in turn, benefits the Long Branch community and beyond.
The Vogels have long been involved with Monmouth Medical Center’s Foundation, attending events and supporting its life-changing programs and services. “We spent years working with the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation and got to know and love them,” says Anne.
Tara Kelly, Vice President of the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation, remembers those early years working with Anne. She was immediately struck by the couple’s strong commitment and selfless approach to philanthropy. “Anne and Sheldon’s desire to leave a profound impact is an outstanding representation of our community,” she says.
And when it came time for their own personal health, the couple trusted Monmouth Medical Center, forming deeply personal ties as well. “The care and caring we received from medical center staff—the doctors, nurses and those leading the day-to-day charge—were so positively significant to our experience,” says Anne.
In 2017, they generously established the Anne Vogel Geriatrics Emergency Medicine Unit.
Shortly thereafter, the Monmouth Medical Center Foundation began working on a new project, a medical campus in nearby Tinton Falls that would help redesign and enhance patient care and delivery. Because of their previous philanthropy, Robin Lowy Embrey, Director of Donor Relations, asked the couple if they knew of any donors interested in supporting the new medical campus. The next day, Sheldon called and shared that he had found someone. “Me!” he said.
Sheldon has brought the same precision and thoroughness that made him extraordinary in business management to Monmouth Medical Center. “When we met with Sheldon at his office in Manhattan to discuss his philanthropic intent, Sheldon shared a piece of classic, hand-written ledger paper, the likes of which I hadn’t seen in 20 years, and walked us line by line through his calculations of how he and Anne would be investing in us,” remembers Tara. “It was an embodiment of how hard he worked his entire career and how carefully and conservatively he invested; he was offering us the chance to transform healthcare for our community. It was humbling.”
“Transforming healthcare for the future is, in large part, rooted in the development of new technology,” explains Bill Arnold, President of RWJBarnabas Health’s Southern Region. “It is not unlike the changes that occurred during Shel- don’s tenure at Atlantic Records.”
“I saw firsthand how the digitization of music transformed the industry,” says Sheldon. “In music, technology was the catalyst. We went from the 45 rpm to the LP to the audio tape and the cassette and now, it’s all streaming.”
“Conceptually, it is the same in healthcare,” says Bill. “What used to be considered major surgery can now be done as a simple outpatient procedure.”
Applying those business principles to the healthcare field came easily to Sheldon. At Atlantic, he worked painstakingly to grow the company. Its expansion was a process, requiring constant dedication, years of focused, strategic planning and a vetting of partners. “I was known as ‘Dr. No,’” Sheldon remarks wryly. “When people would bring in new proposals and initiatives, I had to choose. You have to be in it for the long-term and be able to look beyond the present.”
“We are pioneering the future of healthcare,” says Bill. “Advanced technologies, expansive diagnostic services and innovative research are the hallmarks of today’s smart, future-ready healthcare model. Our ultimate goal is to deliver an unparalleled patient experience.”
Retiring from Atlantic Records in 1998, Shel- don turned to skillfully managing his investment portfolio. Now 88, he plans to continue working as long as he can. Ever humble, he’s never been about preserving his name or acquiring more for himself. “When we’re gone, our name won’t mean anything—and that doesn’t bother me, I expect that—but the good we do will endure,” he says. When people ask him why he still works, his answer is simple: “I want to earn every dollar I can so there’s more to give away.”
“Philanthropy is critical to advancing the healthcare industry,” explains Eric Carney, President and CEO of Monmouth Medical Center. “The Vogels’ investment will grow our footprint to Tinton Falls and expand critical access to healthcare for the community.” The state-of-the-art and environmentally-friendly Vogel Medical Campus is being designed alongside Monmouth’s expert clinicians, extending the trusted, high-quality healthcare programs and services that Monmouth Medical Center in Long Branch is known for to more Monmouth County patients. It will leverage the very latest advances in medical space planning and technology, and serve the Monmouth County community for generations to come.
To learn about giving opportunities at Monmouth Medical Center, visit www.monmouthgiving.org.