by Barbara Moroch –
“Not how long, but how well you have lived is the main thing,” noted Roman philosopher Lucius Annaeus Seneca. Now there’s a Tarrytown native who has lived both quantity and quality in his years. Alfred B. Abraham is a man who has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to professional excellence, philanthropic causes, and community service. Turning 100 hasn’t slowed him down much. He continues to be active and involved with causes that are important to him — and (until recent stay-at-home social distancing rules went into effect) could still be seen regularly working out at his gym, a routine he has kept up for decades.
You’re at the cusp of turning 100 years old. What are your feelings about reaching this milestone?
I am very grateful to reach this landmark on April 16. I am in relatively good health, with the exception of my vision. Fortunately, I am able to lead a very active life with the assistance of my companion, Brian Hunter, and the support of my devoted family.
Tell us about your education and early years.
After graduating from Washington Irving High School in Tarrytown in 1936, I went to the University of Michigan for one year. The following year, in 1937, I obtained a job with the Washington Irving Trust Company in Tarrytown and worked there until 1941, while attending New York University at night. After graduation, I worked in New York City and commuted from Tarrytown until the age of 35, when I moved to Manhattan permanently.
What was your profession and where did you work?
I began my professional career as a certified public accountant. I worked for a number of public accounting firms for about 15 years after graduating from NYU (New York University) in 1941. Afterwards, I entered the private field where I worked as controller and chief financial officer for a number of other firms until I finally retired in 1998 at the age of 78 years.
What are some of your accomplishments – either professional or other?
I graduated cum laude from NYU and have been an active alumnus of what is now the NYU Stern School of Business. I have received many awards from NYU and have been fortunate enough to have established a scholarship there in my name. During my career, I wrote for many professional publications, and was a frequent lecturer for such institutions as the American Management Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
Can you tell us about your time with the Freemasons in Tarrytown?
During my high school years, my father and his brothers became Masons in our local Lodge and I heard a lot about it in my formative years. During World War II, with many of my friends and members of my family in the Armed Forces, there was not a lot for me to do, socially. I was very interested in the Masons. I applied and was accepted into Sleepy Hollow Lodge, No. 1136, in Tarrytown. I found in the Masonic Order a very diverse group of men who were very social and civic minded. In 1955, after several years of service, I was voted Master and I was determined to make my tenure a memorable one. Most notably, I was able to arrange a major Masonic event honoring the Grand Master of New York State Masonry, Raymond C. Ellis.
How else does “service” figure prominently in your life?
I have been a member of local organizations and charities, in particular the United Jewish Appeal and our local synagogue. I have been a lifelong member of the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Tell us about your family and its connection to Tarrytown.
My family started out in Tarrytown in the year 1906 with the arrival of my Uncle Benjamin Abraham and his wife Dora from what is now part of Ukraine and Slovakia. He started a men’s clothing store and, as it grew, he brought his brothers Emanuel and Samuel (my father) to the U.S. to join the business. Both Emanuel and Samuel served in the U.S. Armed Services and their names are enshrined in the statue commemorating the Tarrytown veterans of World War I, which is located on the grounds of what was once the Pierson Elementary School on North Broadway.
What are some of your hobbies/interests?
I have always been interested in traveling, photography, music, family and charitable institutions. For the last 10 years, I have lived with Brian, who is the executive director of the Musicians Club of New York, on whose board I serve.
How do you spend your time these days?
While I have had to overcome many medical issues, including the last one during which I lost an eye and now have limited vision, I am still able to live a very active life with the help of Brian. This life consists of going to the gym, being an active member of organizations like the UJA and NYU, my synagogue and, above all, being the patriarch of a very large family of nephews, nieces, grandnephews and grandnieces and even now, great grandnephews and nieces. I am very fortunate at my age to be leading an active happy life with many interests.