By Deb Silverthorn
Community Homes for Adults (CHAI), Inc. announced a gift of nearly $3 million, its largest ever, by J Bernard “Bunny” Joseph Jr., of blessed memory, in its annual meeting on March 14. The gift was made to the Community Homes for Adults Endowment Foundation (CHAEF), established in 1992 for the purpose of supporting the long-term financial security of CHAI.
“We are overjoyed at this wonderful gift, a perfect example of what fostering relationships — even over many, many years, can mean,” said CHAI CEO Lisa Brodsky. “Bunny Joseph’s gift, with the care and investment of our incredible CHAEF board, can truly last.”
Joseph died in February 2020 at age 96. He left the money in memory of his brother Sidney “Sonny” Joseph who, as a high school student, suffered lifetime brain injuries in an automobile accident. Sonny passed away in 2000.
While CHAI did not exist in the years Sonny might have benefited from its services, Bunny was introduced to the agency in the early 2000s during a lunch with founding board members Milton Levy, of blessed memory, and Buddy Rosenthal, classmates of Sonny’s who like most of their crew, lived within a few blocks’ radius.
“Bunny said he wanted to make a bequest and so Buddy and Milton recommended CHAI,” said CHAEF President John Rosenberg. “He later met with me and then-CHAI Executive Director Lea Rosenberg Bond and revealed the significance. He wanted us to consider honoring Sonny, not a requirement, and we agreed. At his passing, Bunny’s will revealed his gift to CHAEF, for CHAI, a gift that will help support the agency for generations to come.”
Since the initial conversations with Joseph about the gift, its scope was held to CHAI’s core leadership.
“It’s a blessing and I’m so glad that the residents of CHAI will benefit from it. Sonny and Bunny were both great guys and it’s wonderful to have this to remember them by,” Rosenthal said.
The brothers were the sons of J B and Faye Joseph and were members of Temple Emanu-El. Bunny graduated from Forest High School and served in the U.S. Navy during most of WWII. Upon his return from the service, Bunny attended the University of Texas and was a member of the Phi Sigma Delta fraternity. He then worked with his father at the family’s Paramount Ice Company, later changing the name — and the company’s focus — to Paramount Envelope Company. Neither he or Sonny ever married or had children.
To recognize Sonny, CHAI is naming its office on Forest Central Drive, the Sonny Joseph Central Office at CHAI.
“This is significant,” said Rosenberg, whose mother, Sydney Hohenberg Rosenberg, was also a childhood friend of the Josephs. “Bunny’s gift is definitely the largest we’ve received and it’s going to impact so many people through care, programs and in so many ways for a very long time.”