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In Memoriam: Maury Strauss – A Benefactor and ‘Giant’ in History of Roanoke

The longtime supporter of Fralin Biomedical Research Institute leaves a lasting legacy.

Maury Strauss, a Virginia businessman and supporter of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC since it opened in 2010, passed away on June 24. He was 99.

A longtime community benefactor, Strauss made a $1 million gift to the research institute in 2018 to support its practice of introducing international leaders in biomedical and health science research of the caliber found in scientific capitals such as Boston, New York, or London, to the Roanoke community.

The scientists, including Nobel prize winners, National Institutes of Health directors, and elected members of the National Academy of Medicine who talk about wide-ranging topics, such as artificial intelligence, mRNA vaccines, and health system economic policies, meet community members and reveal about the latest information in cutting edge science — events known today as the Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture Series.

“We are going to miss him very much,” said Michael J. Friedlander, executive director of the institute and Virginia Tech’s vice president for health sciences and technology. “On behalf of myself; my wife, Sandra; and the faculty, staff and students of the research institute who have come to know Maury for his warm and caring attention, I would like to express my deepest sympathy to the Strauss family. Maury’s support made possible one of the more important components of the research institute’s mission — outreach to the community and communication of the advances in medicine beyond the halls and labs of academia. The program named in his honor will be an everlasting legacy of his gift of empowering knowledge back to the Roanoke community.”

Maury Strauss, often along with his sons, Steven Strauss and Marc Strauss, and his daughter, Lesleigh Strauss, and other family members, were frequent visitors to the institute.

When the lecture series was named in his honor in 2018, Maury Strauss, the founder of Strauss Development Corp., a real estate development firm, said, “Roanoke has been my home since 1937. I love the community and I made my living here, so I decided it was time to give back. I’ve always been impressed with the research institute. It is a driving force, bringing these wonderful scientists to Roanoke and boosting the economy.”

His enthusiasm and support continued. Maury Strauss cheered at the ribbon-cutting for the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute’s additional, new research building in October 2021, when the nation was stepping into recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He is one of the giants in the history of Roanoke,” Friedlander said. “It is very fitting that the institute’s premier lecture series is named in his honor. His gift was very humbling, and it will always challenge us to work harder to understand and solve some of the most pressing scientific and health care questions faced by humankind, and to continue to connect to the community at large that has welcomed and embraced our faculty, staff, and students at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute.

“We are extremely grateful for Mr. Strauss’ support for the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute and his view of its role as a driving force in the Roanoke Valley,” Friedlander said.

The gift to the research institute was one of many contributions to the area made by the Strauss family.

Maury Strauss, who founded the Strauss Development Corp. in Roanoke, was an ardent supporter of introducing international scientists to the community through the Distinguished Public Lecture Series at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. Photo by Clayton Metz for Virginia Tech.

Maury Strauss supported Carilion Clinic’s cancer program, Virginia Western Community College, and more recently, Good Samaritan Hospice, a community-based nonprofit, which is bringing the first freestanding hospice house to the Roanoke Valley through a gift made by Strauss.

The 16-bed facility is named the Sheila S. Strauss Hospice House after his late wife, who was a client of Good Samaritan. The house is set to welcome patients this fall.

His dedication to arts and culture in Roanoke was expansive, including support for the Taubman Museum of Art, The Jefferson Center, Roanoke Children’s Theatre that he helped establish, Opera Roanoke, Temple Emanuel, Beth Israel Synagogue, and Mill Mountain Theatre.

In 1968, the family conveyed 26 acres to the County of Roanoke for a recreational area long known as Strauss Park and Garst Mill Park, donated by Maury L. and Sheila Strauss.

Maury Strauss graduated from the former Jefferson High School in Roanoke and went on to study at the University of Virginia while training to be a military officer. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in commerce and later served in the Navy during the end of World War II.

Anthony Rosenzweig (left), chief of the Cardiology Division of Massachusetts General Hospital and guest speaker at the opening Maury Strauss Distinguished Public Lecture in 2018, poses with Steven Strauss, Maury Strauss, and Lesleigh Strauss, along with Sandra Friedlander and Michael Friedlander of the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. Photos by Clayton Metz for Virginia Tech.

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