The Morris and Irmgard Wessel Fund

In honor of his years of service, patients, friends, colleagues, and family launched the Wessel Fund that supports the Wessel prize.

Dr. Wessel surrounded by children.
Dr. Wessel with children. Photo: Foundation archives.

Established in 1993 by patients, colleagues, and friends to honor Dr. Wessel's retirement from forty-two years of pediatric care and nurturing of Greater New Haven's children and to memorialize, his wife, Irmgard Wessel, who was deeply devoted to this community.

Dr. Morris Wessel's retirement in 1993 was an occasion to celebrate the quality healthcare and community service that he embodies. Dr. Wessel, a graduate of Yale Medical School, had a pediatrics practice in New Haven for 42 years. His concern for patients attracted families from suburbs and city alike. He came to New Haven in 1948 as a pediatric fellow for the Rooming In program at Yale-New Haven Hospital, a project that popularized bringing newborns to their mothers' bedsides for regular contact. Dr. Wessel's affiliation with the Brennan School, the Well Baby Clinic, and other neighborhood-based programs helped identify him as the "peoples' pediatrician."

The Wessels
Morris and Irmgard Wessel. Photo: Contributed by family.

In honor of his years of service, patients, friends, colleagues, and family launched the Wessel Fund that supports the Wessel prize. The prize, inspired by Dr. Wessel's years in practice, is given in honor of an individual or organization that has taken a leadership role in extending service—medical, social, psychological, economic or educational—to families in need.

Past recipients of the Wessel Prize include: Collective Consciousness Theatre (Dexter Singleton), Junta at Big Turtle Village (Rafael Ramos), Solar Youth (Joanne Sciulli), Karen DelVecchio, Donna Savia, St. Martin dePorres Academy (Mary Surowiekci), Bikes for Babes (Dan Perrotto), Grandparents on the Move, the Connecticut Health Policy Project, the Mob Squad (Al Shakir), The Natural Guard, the Inner City Bicycle Program (David Clough), The Cesar Jerez Catholic Worker House, and Leg Up (Anne Gallant).

"As a pediatrician, I was always very much involved in the community, and I was interested in the total welfare of the children, so I figured this was a reflection of my interest," Dr. Wessel once said.

At the celebration, Dr. Wessel's son Paul, a prize committee member, recalled, "Traditionally, donors to foundations are wealthy people, but in this case we were a lot of people with small contributions and that made one large fund."

Donations may be made online (below) to support the work of the Wessel Fund or by check to The Morris and Irmgard Wessel Fund, c/o The Community Foundation for Greater New Haven, 70 Audubon Street, New Haven, CT 06510. All gifts are tax deductible. For more information about the Fund, please email Paul Wessel or contact him at 203-410-8018.

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Morris and Irmgard Wessel Fund