Oct. 6, 2003--University friend and benefactor Roxana Cannon Arsht, 88, of Greenville, died on Oct. 3 in the Christiana Hospital. Judge Arsht was the fifth woman admitted to the Delaware bar and the first woman to hold a judicial position in Delaware.
Judge Arsht and her late husband, S. Samuel Arsht, were instrumental in the planning and construction of Arsht Hall, named in their honor and built in 1991 as the home of the Academy of Lifelong Learning on the Universitys Wilmington Campus. The Arshts, who had been active in the academy since 1983, opened the campaign for the new building in 1988 with a $1 million gift and then completed the campaign in 1991 with a second million-dollar gift. When the building opened in the fall of 1991, UD President David P. Roselle called the couple two true University treasures.
In 1989, Judge Arsht received a University of Delaware Medal of Distinction.
Born in Wilmington, Judge Arsht attended Wilmington public schools. After earning an undergraduate degree from Goucher College with a major in chemistry and a minor in mathematics, she attended the University of Pennsylvania Law School, graduating in 1939. After passing the Delaware bar in 1941, she applied for jobs all around Wilmington but received no favorable replies. She turned her attention to being a wife to Samuel Arsht, a mother to two daughters and a community leader. Twenty-five years after her admission, her daughter, Adrienne Arsht, was the 11th woman admitted to the Delaware bar.
In 1962, Judge Arsht began working as a volunteer master in the Family Court. After serving without pay for nine years, she made history when she was appointed by Gov. Russell W. Peterson as a judge of the Family Court in 1971. She retired from the bench in 1983 and began a new career as a philanthropist.
Through the years, she gave time and financial support to numerous charities, including Planned Parenthood, First Stage at Tower Hill School and the new exhibition building at the Winterthur Museum. After her husband's death from cancer, she became the founding member of the Cancer Care Connection. The Roxana Cannon Arsht Surgicenter in Wilmington was made possible by a gift from her late husband in recognition of her longtime service as a Christiana Care trustee.
Judge Arsht was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Trailblazer Award, the First State Distinguished Service Award, the Josiah Marvel Cup and the annual award of recognition from the National Conference for Community and Justice. She was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Delaware Women in 1986.
Judge Arsht was often quoted as saying, "The world does not owe you a living; you have to stand on your own two feet".
A private memorial service for members of the Academy of Lifelong Learning will be held at 2 p.m., Friday, Oct. 10, in Arsht Hall, at 2700 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington. A public memorial service will be held at the same location, at 3 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 29
In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions to the Sam and Roxana Arsht Memorial Fund being established in their honor at the Academy of Lifelong Learning, 115 Arsht Hall, 2700 Pennsylvania Ave., Wilmington DE 19806, to The Arsht-Cannon Fund at The Delaware Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1636, Wilmington, DE 19899 or to a charity of ones choice.