By Shandra Hill Smith

For Michael Coles, it was a way to honor his mother and maternal grandparents. The Buckhead resident and his wife Donna gave an initial $50,000 nearly 20 years ago toward the development of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. In recent years, that figure climbed closer to $70,000 total.

The Coles’ are among 25 local families, foundations and companies who have contributed $50,000 or more to the museum over a 20-year period.

Set to mark its 20th anniversary in April, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum recognized the role and support of the Atlanta community during a November tribute dinner at the Georgia Aquarium. The theme of the dinner was “Impacting Our World: What You Do Matters.” Donor support is recognized in perpetuity on the Donors Wall at the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.

Atlanta benefactors are Bernie and Billi Marcus, Charles S. Ackerman and The Coca-Cola Company.

Coles, the co-founder of the Great American Cookie Company, Inc. — which he’s since sold — and executive chairman and president of Global Onboard Partners, says while his mother and her parents managed to escape Poland before the Holocaust, other family members perished. The permanent engraving on the wall includes the Altfeder name.

“When you think about six million people being killed and over a million of them being children, a place of remembrance like this is extremely important,” says Coles, 68, who also serves on the board of Brand Bank in Georgia. “It pays real tribute to those lives that were lost.”

He says he and his wife — the parents of three adult children — have visited the Washington museum, as well as Yad Vashem in Israel. His mother, who passed away in 1999, knew about the museum’s development, but never made it to Washington.

“I think that all people should try to visit the Holocaust Museum in Washington to have a deeper understanding of this tragedy and the murder of six million people,” adds Coles.

For more information on the museum, visit

The following list includes the names of Atlanta donors who have contributed $50,000 or more to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum over the past 20 years. Their recognition includes a permanent engraving on the Museum’s Donor Wall. Information appearing in parentheses reflects the engravings for those that donors have chosen to honor.

Linda and Gil Bachman
Barbara B. and Ronald D. Balser
BellSouth Corporation
Arthur M. Blank and Family
Ron, Lisa, Matt and Jonathan Brill
Michael and Donna Coles (The Altfeder Family)
Alfred Davis, Jay & Ann Davis, Jerry & Dulcy Rosenberg
Dr. Marcus Fechheimer
Evan and Beth Fishman
Marie and Jim Gilbert
Sharon Gridley and Melissa Patrick (Gridley-Patrick Family)
Ira C. Herbert and Family
Roger F. Kahn, Jan K. Coleman & Children
Max L. Kuniansky Family
Sally and Jeffrey Levine
Peter J. Mallen & Family
Morris Family Foundation
Barbara and Sanford Orkin (For Those Who Perished)
James N. Paradies (Family of Sara and I.J. Paradies)
Zippi and Paul Reisman
Steve and Linda Selig, Cathy Selig and Families
Larry and Bobbi Sheron (Bernard Birnbaum “My Sweet Dear Bernard”)
Kerri and Jeffrey Snow (In Honor of the Snow and Price Families)
The Robert W. Woodruff Foundation
The Merrill D. Wynne and Sheila Wynne Family

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.