Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold

Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold

Although the Arnolds made a life in Columbia, Charleston has always had a special place in their hearts as it was Norman’s first home and a place where he still has close family. The Arnolds always expressed a great admiration for the strength and cohesion of the Jewish community here and have lent their support to both Charleston’s Synagogue Emanu-El and the Hebrew Benevolent Society. It was with great pride in 1998 that the Arnolds chose to provide for the furtherance of Jewish education in Charleston with their gift to the Jewish Studies Program. Their matching contribution to the Yaschik Family’s initial endowment has allowed Jewish Studies to significantly expand its offerings in the years since. 

Norman Arnold, born in1929, spent his early years in Charleston before the Arnold Family moved to Columbia. He attended college at Oglethorpe University outside Atlanta and upon graduating, returned to Columbia to join the Ben Arnold Company, a distributing business that his grandfather Isaac Ginsberg founded in 1907. Norman’s father, Ben, had entered into the business in 1928 upon marrying Isaac’s daughter, Flossie Ginsberg, and eventually took over the company, expanding its operations significantly. 

Norman learned the family’s business, working in several different departments within the company, but was soon called on to do a four-year tour as a naval officer in the Pacific during the Korean Conflict. At the unexpected death of his father, Ben Arnold (1900-1963), he became President and CEO of the family’s business. 

The company experienced considerable growth under Norman’s leadership, moving away from distribution and into real estate development. In 1992, the Arnold Family Company was listed among the top ten privately owned businesses in South Carolina and was selected by the University of South Carolina Graduate School of Business as one of four “Model South Carolina Companies” for study in an Advanced Management class. 

Throughout his success, Norman drew strength from his wife of over fifty years, Gerry Sue, as did she of he. The couple met in Atlanta, where Gerry Sue was born and raised, and where they were married in 1963. At the time they met, Gerry Sue, who holds a B.A. in Radio and Television Marketing, was working for her father’s advertising agency. They lived in Columbia where they raised their three sons, Ben Daniel, Michael Siegel, and David Ginsberg. 

Both Norman and Gerry Sue come from families that placed great emphasis on being involved with their synagogues as well as contributing to and being active in Jewish causes. Gerry Sue’s father, Harry L. Siegel, was president of their synagogue, Ahavath Achim, and was active in Jewish community affairs. Norman’s father was active in the American Zionist movement and was a leader in South Carolina’s Jewish community. 

Following their parents, the Arnolds made philanthropy and community involvement a cornerstone of their life. The Arnold’s philanthropic gifts include the Norman J. Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina, the Boy’s and Girl’s Clubs in Columbia and the Columbia Zoological Park, the latter two of which Norman was a founder and served as president. 

In one of the more remarkable chapters of the Arnold’s lives, Norman overcame a serious cancer threat in 1982. Doctors gave him only six months to live, but after completely changing his diet, going through a short series of chemotherapies, and engaging in some unconventional therapies that he uncovered through his own research, Norman overcame his “terminal illness”. His new lease on life fueled a great interest in helping others to lead a healthy lifestyle, and to “realize our collective dreams as a society … the absence of disease and the concurrent presence of good health for everyone.”

Norman was a major supporter of Jewish Studies at every juncture of the Program: Arnold Hall, The Norman and Gerry Sue Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies, Arnold Scholarships, and Norman’s Patio, located just behind Marty’s Place, are just a sampling of his gifts to the Jewish Studies Program. The Arnold's philanthropic impact continues today thanks to the foundation bearing their names. Norman passed away peacefully at his home in Columbia on August 16, 2016, at the age of 86. The Arnold's legacy is secure in the countless organizations that they impacted, and the many lives they touched.