Obituaries for July 6, 2017

Simone Veil, French feminist and politician who survived Shoah

Simone Veil, a well-known French politician and Holocaust survivor, died on June 30. The scholar, former judge and feminist activist was 89.

Photo via the Wikimedia Commons

A lawyer by education, Veil served as minister of health under the center-right government of Valery Giscard d’Estaing and later as president of the European Parliament, as well as a member of the Constitutional Council of France. In 1975, she led the legislation that legalized abortions in France.

President Emmanuel Macron offered his condolences.

“May her example inspire our fellow countrymen, who will find in her the best of France,” Macron said in a message to the family.

Former French President Francois Hollande presented Veil with the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor at the Elysee Palace in 2012. Fewer than 70 people have received the Grand Cross since Napoleon Bonaparte established it in 1802.

Veil, a native of Nice, was imprisoned at Auschwitz and later Bergen-Belsen before she was liberated in April 1945. She published the best-selling autobiography “A Life” in 2007. The following year she was admitted to the Academie Francaise, a highly prestigious institution comprising individuals, often philosophers and writers, recognized for scholarly excellence.

The institution, which has 35 members, of whom six are women, was “revolutionized” by the admittance of Veil, a longtime campaigner for women’s rights, according to an obituary written about Veil by the RTL broadcaster.

The president of CRIF, the umbrella organization representing French Jewish communities, wrote in a statement that he was “immensely saddened by the passing of Veil.

“With her high standards and loyalty, this activist for women’s rights has left an indelible mark on French politics and its intellectual life,” Francis Kalifat wrote, adding that Veil had done so “with courage and dignity.”

In 2012, CRIF described Veil as “one of France’s most cherished personalities and someone who plays an important role in keeping her camp from succumbing to the temptation of allying with the Front National” nationalist party.

“Her name is associated with women’s equality, the memory of the Shoah and the European community,” CRIF added.

—JTA News and Features

Richard Catlin Baron

Richard Baron died on May 2 at home in Oakland, Calif., after a two-decades-long battle with multiple illnesses. He was 70.

Baron was born in Washington to Jeanne Isaacs Baron, homemaker and later a staff member at The Washingtonian magazine; and Theodore Baron, a communications lawyer. He attended Shepherd Elementary School, Paul Junior High School and Calvin Coolidge High School in Washington, where he was captain of the golf team and was named one of the first Presidential Scholars.

Baron went on to Washington University in St. Louis in 1968, majoring in history and earning a Phi Beta Kappa key. During the height of the Vietnam War, he enlisted in the Army, where he became fluent in Japanese at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, Calif., and served in Korea.

After he was discharged, he received a master of sciences degree in economics from the University of Chicago. He worked as a management consultant for 11 years at Hayes and Associates in Chicago. The high-tech boom beckoned and he became a senior director of business development at Computer Systems Laboratory in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., a spin-off of the U.S. space program.

Baron continued at CSL after its acquisition by Gould Electronics, then a Fortune 200 firm. After Gould was acquired by Nippon Mining in 1998, Baron moved on to entrepreneurship as CEO of QD-Systems in Berkeley, Calif., one of the earliest and innovative Electronic Medical Record Systems. He immersed himself in this technology and was a key player in creating systems that worked for both patients and physicians.

Baron was eclectic in his interests and in his choice of friends and he gave both his full dedication, passion and concern. He read extensively on particle physics, cosmology and Jewish history.

In the late 1980s, Baron began to suffer a series of medical setbacks. He continued his career, working in various senior marketing and sales positions. By 2008, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. In 2014, Baron to move to assisted living in Oakland, Calif.

Baron is survived by his sister, Dorothy Baron Schoening of Bethesda, He left behind many friends. He will be very much missed by those who understood him, loved his quick wit and unique point of view of the world and knew him well.

Jeffrey Gildenhorn

Jeffrey Gildenhorn, owner of American City Diner in Washington and the city’s one-time boxing commissioner, died on June 28 after choking at a downtown restaurant, multiple news outlets reported. He was 74.

Gildenhorn had problems swallowing due to Parkinson’s disease and had a choking episode at The Palm restaurant in Washington. He was taken to George Washington University Hospital and pronounced dead. Gildenhorn was born in

Washington and owned 11 retail businesses, including several restaurants, according to American City Diner’s website.
He was named the city’s boxing commissioner in the 1980s by Mayor Marion Barry, and successfully brought two world championship bouts to Washington’s Robert F. Kennedy Stadium in the ‘90s.

He unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 1998. The Washington Post reported that signs appeared outside American City Diner during the 2016 president election and at other times referring to Gildenhorn’s political career, one of which said “I may not have been elected mayor, but I’m still serving the people.”

He was a member of B’nai Israel Congregation in Rockville. Survivors include a brother, niece and nephew.

Reginald Hereford

Reginald “Reggie” Charles Hereford died on June 26 in Boca Raton, Fla.

He was the beloved husband of Zoe Epstein Hereford for 40 years; devoted father of Terri (Bruce) Wilson and Chuck Hereford, and loving stepfather to four children he raised as his own, Robert (Amy) Pepper, Lauren (Brad) Wolf, Chris (Jordan McGee) Epstein and the late Tracy (Craig) Massey; loving brother of the late Betsy (George) Pappafotis, the late Carole Arcadia and Diane (Beau) Dillion, Debra (Alan) Snyder; beloved son-in-law of Freda Epstein and brother-in-law of Michael David (Diana) Epstein. He is also survived by 11 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, Danielle (Adam) Hall, Melissa Wilson, Jesse Wilson, Jordan Massey, Justin Massey, Nathan Pepper, Nolan Pepper, Chava Wolf, Noah Wolf, Hailey Hall and Bodhi Bowser.

Contributions may be made to the Lewy Body Dementia Association or Hospice of Palm Beach County Foundation. Arrangements by Sagel Bloomfield Danzansky Goldberg Funeral Care.

Valentin Pimstein, pioneer of Mexican telenovelas, dies at 91

Valentin Pimstein, an iconic Mexican telenovela producer whose serial dramas were dubbed and subtitled in dozens of languages and shown around the world, died June 27 at the age of 91, the “Programa Hoy” television show reported.

Born in Chile, Valentin Pimstein Wiener was the seventh of nine children of a Russian-Jewish family. His love for romantic and melodramatic stories came from his mother, an assiduous consumer of radio soap operas and Mexican cinema.

His successful telenovelas included “Maria Mercedes,” “La picara sonadora,” “Los ricos tambien lloran,” “Rosa Salvaje,” “Simplemente Maria,” “Carusel” and many others.

He is considered the “father of the pink soap opera” because most of his stories were romantic and melodramatic. In the 1980s, he discovered actresses Lucía Méndez, Verónica Castro, Angelica Aragón, Edith González and Victoria Ruffo, who were protagonists of some of his soap operas.

After moving to Mexico, Pimstein became assistant director of Televisa TV channel and later became a producer. His first telenovela, in 1958, was “Gutierritos.” Considered an icon in the history of soap operas, it was the second telenovela produced in Mexico for Telesistema Mexicano, now Televisa. n

—JTA News and Features

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