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The new Don & Beth Straus Center for seniors with memory loss is a lasting legacy of two longtime Somesville residents known for their pioneering and generous spirit.
The Straus’ decision to support the new facility has been attributed, in part, to his struggle with memory loss prior to passing in 2007. “Part of the Straus’ interest in the facility came from firsthand experience,” said Julian Kuffler, MD, MPH, Medical Director of the Straus Center.
“Mrs. Straus understands the unique needs of a caregiver and has made a commitment to ensure that others in the community struggling with the same issues have the resources to deal with this challenging illness,” said Dr. Kuffler.
“They both recognized the need for a broadly accessible approach to care for seniors living on MDI with memory loss,” said Dr. Kuffler. “Their generous gift has provided people in our community with access to an innovative model of care that would have otherwise been out of reach.”
The namesake of the Straus Innovator Award at College of the Atlantic, Mr. Straus was no stranger to inventive problem solving. As President of the American Arbitration Association, Mr. Straus was instrumental in non-violent resolution of international conflicts. He was also an early advocate in the use of online computer conferencing and online education.
“The Straus Center is a refection of Mr. Straus’ forward thinking approach,” said Dr. Kuffler. “From his efforts to resolve conflicts peacefully, to his advocacy of an interdisciplinary approach to education, Mr. Straus was, in many ways, the perfect partner for a facility like this.”
“They both became very interested in the new facility and were encouraged by Dr. Kuffler’s description of the facility,” said longtime friend Richard Dudman of Ellsworth. “They came to realize that a lot of people, including caregivers, need this type of a facility.”
“Consistent with her long history of philanthropic support, Mrs. Straus has not only been personally generous,” said Dr. Kuffler,” she has encouraged others in the community to be supportive, which has contributed tremendously to our ability to meet our fundraising goal.”
The Straus Center, which opens May 4th, will provide full and half-day programs for seniors with memory loss. The Center will provide a safe, comfortable environment where seniors with memory loss can socialize and enjoy meaningful activities under professional supervision.
Benefactors of many causes throughout the country, the Strauses were known to have a special affection for the state and island to which they retired. “Although they were from New York and California, they came to love Maine, ” said Helen Dudman. “They were very generous people and were devoted to their community.”

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