Geraldine Aaron, 91, of Philadelphia and Sarasota, Fla., a philanthropist and the wife of Daniel Aaron, a founder of Comcast Corp., died Thursday, Feb. 14, of heart disease at her Florida home.
Known as “Gerri,” she was born in Philadelphia and grew up in West Oak Lane.
She inherited her wit and intellect from her father, Edward Stone, a lawyer and newspaper editor, the family said, and her compassion for those in need and the drive to help them from her mother, Marie Stone, a nurse in World War I.
“Gerri’s philanthropy reflected her fierce belief that voices from communities, often hidden, offer riches that must be heard, embraced, nurtured, and cultivated,” said Wendy Lewis, executive director of the Parkinson Council, one of the groups Mrs. Aaron supported. “Her causes reflect a tapestry of ideas, as she delighted in rooting for the underdog.”
Mrs. Aaron met Daniel Aaron, a refugee from Nazi Germany, when both were students at Temple University. They married and had five children.
In 1963, her husband persuaded Ralph J. Roberts, a former clothing salesman, to buy a tiny cable company in Tupelo, Miss. Over 30 years, the men acquired cable companies across the country. With the acquisition of AT&T Broadband in 2002, Comcast became the world’s largest provider of cable TV service.
“Gerri was a very special and giving person," said Brian L. Roberts, Comcast chairman and CEO. "Gerri, Dan, and my parents each had five children and we all grew up together. I have fond memories of summer adventures at the Aarons’ home on Long Beach Island.
“Gerri’s moral, family, and philanthropic values helped shaped Dan and Ralph as they created the culture that we have today at Comcast. She had the highest sense of integrity and commitment to community.”
Her husband died of Parkinson’s disease in 2003 at age 77. Mrs. Aaron maintained homes in Fairmount and Sarasota until moving to Florida permanently in 2016.
Starting in 1991, Mrs. Aaron gave generously to nonprofits, progressive causes, and institutions.
In Pennsylvania, she supported Arcadia University, the Parkinson Council, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Dan Aaron Parkinson’s Rehabilitation Center at Pennsylvania Hospital, which was named after her husband. She sponsored the Taiwanese violinist Ray Chen and other aspiring Curtis students.
In Florida, she supported the Sarasota Orchestra, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Neuro Challenge Foundation for Parkinson’s Disease in Sarasota, the American Jewish Committee, and the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe. The troupe is building a new theater in Sarasota that will bear her name.
Mrs. Aaron graduated from Germantown High School and from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in English. She worked for several years as a truant officer in the Philadelphia School District starting in 1948.
A talented dancer and yoga expert, Mrs. Aaron taught classes in the two pastimes from the 1960s to the 1980s. She mastered yoga and dance long before they became mainstream in the Philadelphia area.
Her family described Mrs. Aaron as “whip-smart, sophisticated, articulate, spirited, youthful, irreverent, unpretentious, good humored, loving, and fun.”
She acted on her beliefs. When the Aarons lived in Levittown, they learned that a newly arrived African American family was being threatened because of their race. The Aarons stayed overnight at the new family’s home to support them, said daughter Erika Aaron.
Mrs. Aaron was a follower of union organizer Cesar Chavez and regularly protested outside Philadelphia supermarkets. Her aim was to get the grocery stores to stop selling California grapes until conditions improved for farm workers in California. “She would go into the supermarkets and talk to the supervisors and try to dissuade them from carrying the grapes,” her daughter said.
Mrs. Aaron enjoyed reading, going to concerts, playing tennis, reading about politics, and gardening.
In addition to her daughter, she is survived by sons Jim, Ken, and Jud; another daughter, Alison Madsen; eight grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; and her partner, Marvin Albert.
Funeral services were Sunday, Feb. 17.