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Fred Malek's Quiet Public Service Left an Indelible Legacy of Good

Fred Malek's Quiet Public Service Left an Indelible Legacy of Good

The news of Fred Malek’s passing this past week left many in Washington, and across the country, to reflect – not only on the life of a giant of politics – but on what it means to be a philanthropist and public servant.

We live in a time where philanthropy and service are extended with the desire and even expectation for notoriety and recognition. While those who serve should certainly be recognized, what Fred made clear is that public service can be done with elegant power behind the scenes. If recognition is not sought out, greater good can often be accomplished.

Fred’s incredible career in government, the military, and private industry is widely known, but his philanthropic work was just as distinguished. Much of Fred’s impact to make this world a better place was done selflessly behind the scenes. Just one of these acts was the pivotal role Fred played in garnering the support for the passage of the law creating the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s Breakthrough Therapy Designation in 2012. I can truly say that without Fred, Breakthrough would not exist, and the thousands of patients whose lives have been saved by these therapies may not have been.

This example is one of surely hundreds of acts of quiet power by Fred that served as a catalyst for the betterment of public health, the advancement of science and countless other causes.

The loss of a dear friend will always be met with sadness and loss but the loss of a friend who has bettered the lives of so many leaves an even larger void.

We mourn the loss of such an incredible champion for so many causes, including the organization I founded Friends of Cancer Research, which his wife, Marlene, has served as Board President and Vice Chair for over 20 years.


Through his military & government service and his humble generosity, his life has bettered America and has left an indelible legacy that can be a model of how powerful quiet public service can be.


Ellen V. Sigal is Chair & Founder of Friends of Cancer Research. 


To view Fred Malek’s obituary page, please click here.