Paving a path of joy for others

Maritza Cosano, 07-25-2023

Alumnus David Lefkowitz and his wife, Leslie, have planned an impressive bequest to the Frost School of Music to support students' dreams.


“Come see what happened to your music school, David!” When alumnus David Lefkowitz received an invitation from the Frost School of Music a few years ago, he was curious to learn how his school had changed since he walked off campus.

“We love how Miami has evolved into a great city,” Lefkowitz says. Upon returning to Florida a few years ago, he was overwhelmed by the city’s multicultural vibe, exponential growth, and, more importantly, his alma mater’s warm welcome. “Everybody was just so gracious and inviting. It was thrilling.”

As a jazz major at the University, David subsequently developed a great love of music from all genres. In 1971, he married Leslie, his childhood friend and soulmate, and together they built a good life surrounded by music and art.

“I’ve known David since he was 12, but I had no idea he played the trombone. When I found out, it was kind of one of those swept away moments . . . if a trombone player ever kisses you, you’ll never forget it. He swept me off my feet, and I didn’t let go,” says Leslie.

On the other hand, David saw a woman of impeccable taste and amazing style in Leslie. “Nobody knew this at the time, but she has always been an amazing cook, a great baker, and a heck of a hula dancer!” he says.

After they were married, the Lefkowitzes moved to Rhode Island, where David was stationed in the U.S. Navy. “We had a couple of pretty fun years there,” recalls David, who then moved the family back to Florida, where they stayed for a while. “Then one day in the late eighties California beckoned, we heeded the call, and stayed there for 40 years.”

A CPA by day and music and art lover by night, David toured the world, going to operas, concerts, museums, jazz clubs, and ballets with Leslie. “Music and culture were the core of what kept us interested and entertained,” says David.

For the last 45-plus years, a big part of his practice was not only to help companies get started, grow, and sell but also to work with young creatives. He saw how entrepreneurs focused on business, and he helped guide their success. This work included steering the conversation toward their legacy: envisioning how they could make their and others’ dreams come true by discovering their social and community conscience.

“Our lives are filled with music and art,” David concludes. “By leaving a contribution in our estate to the Frost School of Music, we know it will make a difference in people’s lives. Leslie and I encourage students to pursue their goals as they transition to professionals and find their path to joy.”

“David Lefkowitz knows the value that intensive musical training imparted on his life, while at the same time instilling a lifelong passion for music and the arts that he and Leslie share,” said Shelton Berg, dean of the Frost School of Music. “In order to assure that other highly talented individuals have the opportunity to study and grow at the Frost School, David and Leslie have made a generous bequest. I am grateful for their selfless philanthropy.”

The Lefkowitzes’ gift is part of the University’s Ever Brighter: The Campaign for Our Next Century. The most ambitious in the University’s history, the $2.5 billion campaign is set to conclude in 2025, when the University will celebrate its centennial.