What a terrible week that was

By Lois Caplan

WHAT A TERRIBLE WEEK THAT WAS – After four old friends died last week, Gerry Schiller, a friend of 75 years, called and said “We must have dinner right away.” “What’s your hurry?” I asked. “Everyone is dying so we have to rush before we are gone,” she joshed – or was she really joking? 

Sunny Glassberg, Lucy Lopata, Eleanor Steinbach and Eric Ross (with whom I was confirmed at Temple Israel) passed away. In spite of their advanced years I was in a state of shock at the news of their demise.

By now everyone knows from Sunny’s obits that she was a major philanthropist in St. Louis having given beloved Turtle Park, the World’s Fair Pavilion, both in Forest Park, other park pavilions and many scholarships to the Scholarship Foundation where she followed her students’ progress. In 1994 Sunny donated the money to build a public pavilion in Greensfelder Memorial Park in memory of her husband, Myron Glassberg. Most recently she helped the state and federal governments purchase 438 acres on the Meramec River, dedicated as the Myron and Sonya Glassberg Family Conservation Area.

Less well known is Sunny’s remarkable personal generosity. For example, once when I moved she was at the new house to “do” the closets and started by gathering all the ugly wire hangers to return to the cleaner. Then there was the time Sunny dropped by as I was recovering from something and she cleaned out my refrigerator. What a mitzvah! I particularly recall when her son was diagnosed with cancer and she launched an estate sales enterprise called Sellers Unlimited—with all proceeds benefiting needy causes as her way of thanking God for her son’s recovery.

I would be remiss if I did not recognize Sunny’s prowess on the tennis court and at the bridge table, two places where she and I would find ourselves as partners. Even at age 94, she still played a sharp game of bridge, probably better than my much younger partners. Into her late 80s she was still on the tennis court.

Sunny’s daughter, Sally G. Sands, said of her mother, “She was all heart and intuition in choosing how to give, and all mind and intellect in implementing these choices. She consistently gave to organizations that embody our family’s deeply held values of education and conservation, and she was active in crafting projects that would serve community both today and for many years to come.” A memorial service for Sunny will be held at 11 a.m., June 11 at the World’s Fair Pavilion in Forest Park.

Lucy Lopata, whose obit by Bob Cohn you will find on the front page, was an absolute red-haired doll. She and her husband Stanley enjoyed traveling the world and sharing picture post cards (of them) with those of us at home. Washington University was the recipient of extensive funds from the Lopatas, much for the engineering school from where Stanley received his degree. The University’s winning women’s basketball team was supported by Lopata funds. Lucy loved the Butterfly House in West County, which she supported generously. The Missouri Botanical Garden’s Missouri Wild Flower area funded by Lucy is my daughter Leslie’s favorite spot, a perfect place, she said, to go and think about Lucy.

According to Lucy’s wishes there will be no funeral or memorial service except for a private family service.


THE FOURTH ANNUAL “SING FOR SITEMAN” concert features nine internationally known vocal artists who will unite for one performance to raise funds for cancer research. The concert will be June 10 at 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Whitaker Hall on Washington University’s Danforth Campus and will include a variety of musical genres, including Broadway, opera, spiritual and cabaret. Following the performance there will be an informal wine and dessert reception. Tickets are $100 for preferred seating and $50 for open seating. For reservations call 314-961-0644 or visit www.operastl.org/singforsiteman.

The artists appearing in Sing for Siteman regularly perform around the globe and are here for the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis season. The lives of many of these young artists have been touched by cancer, either personally or through close family or friends. They want to do something positive, using their unique gift, to make a difference. By the way, I saw the opening opera, “Pirates of Penzance,” and I must tell you that I have never heard so many magnificent voices. Thus “Sing for Siteman” promises to be a wonderful evening.


BEAUTY AND THE FEAST! DISCOVERING THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH is a great name for an event, don’t you think? Here’s the skinny on it. On Wednesday, June 19 at 6:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center Staenberg Family Complex, Arts and Education Building, 2 Millstone Campus Drive, there will be cocktails and a buffet dinner catered by Kitchen J. The program, consisting of two physicians who will teach you to look your everyday fabulous are Dr. Larry Samuels, Cosmetic Dermatologist and Medical Director, the Center for Advanced Skincare and Dr. Brock Ridenour , Facial Plastic Surgeon and Medical Director Ridenour Plastic Surgery. 

Here is the special news about this event. No, you will not necessarily look like Elizabeth Taylor, but your money will be put to good use. Proceeds from the program support the JCC Seniors Meal Program, which provides 200,000 healthy meals annually, including Shabbat dinners and meal delivery to the homebound elderly. 

Standard reservations are $40, while preferred seating reservations are $65 and $100. (Maybe for the top price they promise extra beauty.) For information or to RSVP, contact Susan Kaplansky at [email protected].