Lolo Sarnoff, Arts for Aging Founder, Dies at 98

Scientist, sculptor and arts patron Lolo Sarnoff died Nov. 9 at the age of 98. She was best known later in later as the founder of Arts for the Aging, a nonprofit which provides arts engagement programs for older adults in the greater Washington area.

Lili-Charlotte (Lolo) Sarnoff was born in Frankfurt, Germany, daughter of Willy and Martha Dreyfus, nee Koch. Later, the family moved to Berlin and after 1936 to Switzerland. Her big dream was to be a fashion designer. She studied at the University of Zurich and married her first husband an American doctoral student, Stephen Heineman.

After World War II and serving as a nurse at New York’s Bellevue Hospital, she met her second husband, Stanley Sarnoff.

In 1954, with their young children Robert and Dana, the Sarnoffs moved to Bethesda to work at the National Institutes of Health. The couple co-invented the electro-phrenic respirator, a device that replaced the iron lung in the treatment of bulbar polio. They also formed their scientific research company.

In the 1960s, Sarnoff began to become more active in the arts community. She co-founded the Washington Performing Arts Society Women’s Committee and the Washington Opera Women’s Committee. She is a trustee of the Washington Ballet and involved with the Corcoran Women’s Committee.

In 1971, one of Sarnoff’s sculptures, “The Flame,” was installed at the Kennedy Center’s Opera House. Later, after she taught art at an NIH program for those with Alzheimer’s disease, Sarnoff began Arts For The Aging, Inc., with its arts education programs for those will all forms of dementia.

Sarnoff is survived by her children, Dana Bargezi and Robert and Tricia Sarnoff; four grandchildren, Nick Bargezi, Ivan and Genesis Belanger, Kyle and Patrick Feinson, and by one great-granddaughter, Lily Sophie Bargezi. (Her husband died in 1990.)

Memorial services and burial will be held in Vermont at a later date. The Cabot Funeral Home in Woodstock, Vt., is assisting the family.

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