Adele Karp Polan

Adele Karp Polan, 94, died Oct. 24 at The Overlook at Northampton. She was the widow of Isadore Polan. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., to Russian immigrant parents, she was a resident of Delmar, N.Y., for nearly 60 years. She was a champion of social justice and an early pioneer of women’s rights, working as a biostatistician for the New York State Health Department from 1941 to 1996, and until 1999 as a full-time volunteer, and serving on the Women’s Issues Committee at her synagogue, Temple Israel of Albany, N.Y. She received her bachelor’s degree cum laude from Brooklyn College, a master’s degree in statistics from Columbia University and attended the Yale School of Public Health. In her first job, at the 1940 U.S. Census, she was mentored by legendary statistician W.E. Deming. She authored or co-authored more than 30 published epidemiological papers, including studies of then-new Salk polio vaccine, fluoridation of water, the viral causes of Hodgkin’s disease and environmental effects on birth defects and the general health of newborns. Upon her retirement, Gov. Mario Cuomo called her “an exemplary public servant” and “biostatistician extraordinaire.” The late health commissioner, Dr. David Axelrod, enshrined her in the Hall of Fame of Women in Public Health. She was an active member of Temple Israel, Hadassah and Na’amat and a fervent supporter of the state of Israel. She is survived by two children, Judith and Steven; a son-in-law, Michael Schonbach; a daughter-in-law, Elizabeth Roistacher;  a grandson, Theodore Polan; many nieces and nephews; and her companion, Marge Cootware. She was predeceased by her siblings, Joseph Karp, Doris Skol, Dorothy Kripke and Lillian Weiss. Memorial contributions may be made to the Jewish National Fund’s Tree Planting Center, the Isser Education Fund of Temple Israel, the Bethlehem (N.Y.) Public Library or the Alzheimer’s Association.


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