Shelby Modell

Shelby Modell

Earlier this spring, we lost Shelby Modell, the last living co-founder of the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

After her son Michael was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease at the age of 13, Shelby and her late husband William Modell, along with Irwin and Suzanne Rosenthal, and Dr. Henry D. Janowitz, founded the Foundation for Research in Ileitis, now known as the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.

Shelby worked tirelessly to raise millions of dollars to provide critical education and support to patients and for IBD research, in hopes of one day finding cures for inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The number of healthcare providers and IBD researchers has accelerated over the past five decades as a direct result of the unrelenting efforts of the Modells and the Rosenthals. Today, there are numerous medical journals dedicated to Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, and new discoveries are being published daily.

The financing of the Foundation was launched by the Modells, who brought together thousands of people, including personal friends, business colleagues, athletes, and patients and their families who suffered from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.

For over 50 years, Shelby and her family chaired the Greater New York City Chapter’s annual dinner (the gala that we celebrate), one of the most successful annual fundraising events for the Foundation. Shelby and her late husband chaired the dinner for 25 consecutive years until 1993, when their son Michael and his wife Abby took over. After Michael’s passing in 2001, his brother Mitchell chaired the event until 2020.

Shelby Modell received her B.A. from Brooklyn College and her M.A. from Columbia University. She has had a distinguished career in philanthropy, benefiting the fields of health, mental health, education, and the arts. Shelby is survived by her daughter Leslie and son Mitchell; daughters-in-law Abby, Leslie, and Robin; grandchildren Alex & Gila Modell, Andrew Modell, Ashley Modell Gelbard & David Gelbard, Ashley Modell, Brittany Modell, Matthew Modell, Max Modell, Missy Modell, and Shawn Modell; and great grandchild Mika. Several of Shelby’s grandchildren – Alex, Missy, and Brittany – carry on her legacy and are active volunteer leaders within the Foundation.

This year, as we host the gala event that Shelby and the Modell family have chaired for so many years and that we now celebrate in its 55th anniversary, we are so honored to commemorate the life of Shelby Modell – a true icon in our IBD community.

Shelby Modell