In Memoriam: Norma Lee Funger

Dedicated businesswoman and noted philanthropist leaves a broad, half-century legacy of impact at GW and in the greater Washington, D.C., community.

July 13, 2022

Woman speaking at podium

Norma Lee Funger receiving GW's President's Medal in 2013.

Norma Lee (Cohen) Funger, a pillar of the George Washington University whose name graces the front of Norma Lee and Morton Funger Hall on GW’s Foggy Bottom campus, died in her sleep July 4. She was 90.

Norma Lee Funger, a stalwart of public service who in 2013, along with her husband, Morton “Morty” Funger, received the university’s President’s Medal for her service, engagement and leadership to GW across five decades.

Born Aug. 5, 1931, the native Washingtonian spent much of her life giving back to the community that raised her, including GW. Her and her husband’s broad philanthropic support to the institution over the past 50 years include gifts and endowed funds across many schools, including professorships in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences (CCAS), the Elliott School of International Affairs and the School of Medicine, as well as funds to support the arts at the Music Department and Museum. 

Norma Lee leaves a strong legacy at GW, including one of her and Morton’s four children, Scott, graduating from GW Law in 1983. After his death in 2012, the Fungers endowed the W. Scott Funger Memorial Scholarship in his memory at GW Law. Three of their grandchildren also graduated from GW in the Law School, School of Business and CCAS.

“The Fungers are philanthropic giants who have made the world a better place, and I’m so proud that our university can represent their legacy,” said Donna Arbide, GW’s vice president for development and alumni relations. “Their impact cannot be overstated, and their love for GW and their incredible leadership, support and generosity is well known in philanthropic circles. Norma Lee and Morty were among the first donor names I heard even before I assumed my position. She will be sorely missed.”

Funger was a licensed real estate agent with Lewis & Silverman, which later became Long & Foster Realtors. Her dedication and strong salesmanship propelled her to membership of the Chairman's Club at Long & Foster Realtors, having sold millions of residential real estate in Montgomery County, Maryland.

She supported local Jewish, arts, educational and medical philanthropic organizations throughout her life. Funger served on the boards of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, American Art Museum and National Gallery of Art, as well as the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts—a two-year term appointed by President Barack Obama.

Funger served on the Foundation Board of Children's National Hospital for 31 years, where she and Morton established the Cohen-Funger Endowed Chair of Cardiovascular Surgery. She was also a board member of the Children's Inn at NIH (formerly Ronald McDonald House).

She is survived by her husband, Morton Funger, A.A. ’52, B.A. ’53, her three children Lydia (Bill) McClain, Melanie (Paul) Nichols and Keith (Mauri) Funger, as well as Holly, the wife of her son W. Scott Funger who preceded her in death.

Funger graduated from D.C.’s Roosevelt High School and attended Syracuse University and Wilsons Teachers College, where she was a member of Kappa Delta Pi International Honor Society in Education.