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Stories: Herb

Heart-healthy cheerleaders for Swedish

Herb Schoenfeld’s life has centered primarily on furniture, healthy living and his faith. Growing up in Seattle, he loved hearing stories of his great grandfather starting a furniture business in Virginia City, Nev., and then moving it to a storefront in Tombstone, Ariz., next to Doc Holliday’s dental office.

He was proud of his family’s business. Nevertheless, although expectations were high that he would take it over one day, it wasn’t for Herb. He wanted to be a psychiatrist. But a funny thing happened on the way to his graduate degree. He decided to work at the family furniture store for a few years, and ended up becoming its owner and president—and staying 35 years.

Throughout his early years, Herb was a bodybuilder. He thought he was very healthy. You can imagine his surprise, then, when he had a heart attack at the age of 46.

“My first heart attack was a wakeup call,” says Herb. “After triple bypass surgery at Cherry Hill, I gave up bodybuilding, started a heart-healthy diet and focused on living my faith, so I could be a softer, kinder person who was more humble and less stressed.”

The extraordinary care he received at the Swedish Heart & Vascular Institute (SHVI) after a second heart attack has made Founders Circle members Herb and his wife Marlene ardent cheerleaders for the physicians and staff who cared for him, and the technology they have access to.

“Swedish’s heart services are the best in Washington, or anywhere for that matter,” says Herb. “Their expertise saved my life, but their humanity is just as incredible. We live just a few miles from Swedish Mill Creek and we’ve found that no matter where we enter the system, there are kind, caring experts to take care of us.”

In a nod to the Seattle Seahawks, Herb likes to say that he and Marlene are the “12th Man for Swedish.” Through the Schoenfeld-Gardner Foundation, a family foundation that includes Herb, his sister, two cousins and a niece, they’ve generously supported heart health and wellness at SHVI, as well as programs at the Swedish Neuroscience Institute.

“Our family’s genetic heart history is pathetic,” says Herb. “I have multiple family members who have been affected by genes that put them at risk for heart disease. That’s why our family is so intent on doing our part to support heart care at Swedish.

Supporters like the Schoenfeld family—and you—give our patients access extraordinary health care and hope for a healthy tomorrow. To learn more about how your gift is making a difference at SHVI, contact Mallory Higgins, assistant philanthropy officer, at 206-386-6108 or Mallory.Higgins@swedish.org.