HomeMarch 2013A Mayor, a Mensch and Two Pioneering Women

A Mayor, a Mensch and Two Pioneering Women

Edward I. Koch, Former New
York Mayor

Edward I. Koch, a lawyer, politician, politcal commentator, movie critic and reality television arbitrator who served as the mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989, died February 1.  A lifelong Democrat who described himself as “a liberal with sanity,” also served in the U.S. House of Representatives.  He was a staunch supporter of Israel who sometimes crossed party lines to support candidates.

Koch, who wrote a number of books, was known for his feisty sense of humor.  He rode around the subways of New York with his thumbs up, uttering his trademark expression, “How’m I doin’?”

Born in the Bronx in 1924 to Polish-Jewish immigrants, Koch served in the U.S. Army.  He graduated from City College of New York and New York University School of Law.

Koch secured a burial plot in Manhattan’s non-denominational Trinity Cemetery and Mausoleum, the only graveyard in Manhattan accepting new burials, stating “I don’t want to leave Manhattan, even when I’m gone.”  For the inscription on his memorial tombstone, Koch requested that the marker bear the Star of David and the words from the Shema, as well as the last words of journalist Daniel Pearl before he was murdered by Islamic terrorists in 2002: “My father is Jewish.  My mother is Jewish.  I am Jewish.”  The tombstone included a final epitaph that Koch wrote himself: “He was fiercely proud of his Jewish faith.  He fiercely defended the City of New York, and he fiercely loved its people.  Above all, he loved his country, the United States of America, in whose armed forces he served in World War II.”

Dr. Ronald Gilbert, Urologist/Chabad Community Leader

Dr. Ronald Gilbert, a prominent urologist and lay leader of his Chabad of West Orange County community, was shot to death in a treatment room of his Newport Beach office on Monday, January 28.  Dr. Gilbert, a Huntington Harbour resident who left behind a wife and two sons, was buried at Harbor Lawn Mt. Olive Cemetery on what would have been his 53rd birthday.

The doctor was so beloved that the chapel of the mortuary could not accommodate all of the people who came to the service.  Many of the nearly 1,000 mourners stood outside.

Born into a Conservative Jewish family that observed Shabbat and the holidays, Dr. Gilbert began to explore his Judaism more deeply 15 years ago, according to Rabbi Aron Berkowitz, spiritual leader of Chabad of West Orange County.  The rabbi, who frequently studied with Dr. Gilbert, described him as a mensch , a person with a great love of his family and faith and someone who was loved and respected by everyone.

Dr. Gilbert, a 1987 graduate of the UCI School of Medicine, served as a volunteer faculty member there.  He also liked music and played in a garage band during his high school days in Whittier.

Dr. Gilbert was part of the Orange Coast Urology Group, which he joined in 1993.  He was the former chief or urology at Hoag Hospital, with which he had been affiliated for 20 years.  A medical colleague called Dr. Gilbert “the best there is” in his field.

Gloria Glasser, Female Business Pioneer

Gloria Glasser, 88, of Laguna Woods, passed away on December 16, 2012, in Lake Forest.  Born on November 26, 1924, in New York City to Morris and Anna Bass, she was raised in Brooklyn, New York, with her siblings, Libby and Harold.  Before marrying Morris Glasser at age 18, she was a waitress and also worked in the millinery industry.  In 1947, she and Morris, a CPA, moved to Santa Ana.

Gloria became a successful real estate broker, starting Gloria Glasser Realty in 1953.  One of the first realtors in Orange County, she was a pioneer for women in business.  Toward the end of her career, she earned a community college teaching credential and taught courses in real estate and home-buying.

Glasser generously supported the City of Hope, the American Cancer Society, Susan B. Komen For the Cure and the Jewish National Fund.  She believed that “everyone needs some help.”  She was a lifetime member of her synagogue and belonged to Hadassah, ORT and B’nai B’rith.  Among her passions were music, dancing, cooking and matchmaking.  In this last endeavor, she was quite adept, and her efforts led to 22 marriages.  After many years of being single, she married Jack Lepoff, a retired engineer from Portland, Maine, in 2004.

Gloria is survived by her husband, Jack; four children: Robert Glasser of Irvine, Howard Glasser of Orange, Deborah Barr of Seattle and Janice Levine of St. Louis; seven grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to The City of Hope, 1055 Wilshire Blvd., #1200, Los Angeles, CA 90017, and Temple Judea, 24512 Moulton Parkway, Laguna Woods, CA 92637.

Edith R. Helman, Newsletter Editor

Edith (Edie) Ruth Helman (nee Zak) died January 1, 2013.  Born November 3, 1926, in Lodz, Poland, Edie and her family moved to Havana, Cuba, where her father, Aharon Zak, died of blood poisoning.  Her mother, Tilya, moved the family to Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Edie graduated from the University of Minnesota Summa Cum Laude, and two years later, received her Master’s degree in physiological chemistry.  She married Emil Helman the day after graduation.  For thirteen years, Edie was a stay-at-home mother, with part-time jobs teaching Hebrew school and writing medical abstracts.  After her divorce, she worked at the VA laboratory and at Beckman Instruments.

Helman started her own business, Scientific Newsletters, in Anaheim in 1974.  The business expanded steadily with the purchase of Alba’s Medical Technology Review Books.  She continued to publish the Alba Medical Technology Review Books for twelve years after retirement.

Edith Helman spent the majority of her later years at Martin’s Run Senior Community in Media, PA, where she started a lecture series drawn from Philadelphia’s academic community.   She also developed a high level of skill in painting, producing pieces with mostly Jewish themes, shown at the Tyme and Carol Schwarz Gallery.  She is survived by her daughter, Dr. Terri Finkel of Orlando, Florida, her son, Dr. David Helman of Silverton, Oregon, her brother, Dr. Solomon Zak of St. Louis Park, Minnesota, and five grandchildren.


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