Beshert is a word both Carol Fey and Joan Wurmbrand, MD, regularly use to characterize their life together. Fey described the Yiddish word as meaning ‘meant to be.’ “We think of many things about our life together as beshert,” she said.
Fey, a respected attorney specializing in family law and on matters unique to LGBTQ relationships, and Wurmbrand, a physician in private practice for 40 years, have built their lives around helping others.
The couple, together for 34 years and parents to three children, regularly give back to the communities they are passionate about. Together they make decisions about organizations to support, including their synagogue, the Columbus Jewish Federation, and local public radio stations WOSU and WCBE, and have been longtime supporters of the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, and the National Center for Lesbian Rights. In addition, both have given their time to various volunteer activities.
“I think we are all connected. The more we can tell our stories, and people can see commonalities and overlaps, the better off we’ll all be.”
Wurmbrand served as Vice President of the Gay and Lesbian Medical Association, a national group, and has served on the board for many years. She also helped found a lesbian health foundation and, for almost 40 years, has been part of Women in Medicine, an organization dedicated to bringing together lesbian, sexual minority women, and gender expansive physicians, medical students, and their partners in a place that feels safe.
Fey has been an active volunteer in the Bexley school district, serving on the Bexley School Board, including two terms as President, and as PTO Chair for Cassingham Elementary. Fey also pioneered the establishment of shared custody for LGBTQ and other unmarried parents, laying the groundwork for the Ohio Supreme Court’s affirmation of that practice.
In 2021, the couple established the Fey-Wurmbrand Legacy Endowment Fund for Stonewall Operations, a Donor Advised Fund at The Columbus Foundation, in celebration of Fey’s retirement.
The couple intentionally decided to focus the fund on supporting the operating expenses at Stonewall Columbus, recognizing that this is often an area that needs help. Founded in 1981, Stonewall Columbus’ mission is to “increase visibility, inclusion, and connection for the LGBTQ+ community.” The couple has a history of supporting the organization.
Fey was a longtime board member and was awarded the Stoney Award in 1998 for her “groundbreaking legal work supporting LGBTQ families.”
The organization’s focus on connection and inclusion, and its importance in the central Ohio community, resonates with both women.
“I think of Stonewall as a necessary part of having Columbus be a vibrant community,” Fey said. “It’s one of the things that I’ve liked about Columbus, and that has kept us here.”
Wurmbrand agrees, noting the organization also provides muchneeded support for the younger LGBTQ population.
“Stonewall’s goal and mission to reach out to disenfranchised LGBTQ people is incredibly important,” she said. “We all learned decades ago that LGBTQ and trans youth commit suicide at incredibly higher numbers than straight kids do. That is a group that is near and dear to our heart, and we want to do what we can because they are one of our communities.”