Harold Shapiro, family services advocate, longtime B’nai Amoona leader, dies at 79

Harold Shapiro

BY ROBERT A. COHN, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

Harold Shapiro, a past president of the Jewish Family & Children’s Service and a longtime lay leader at Congregation B’nai Amoona, died March 23. He had been suffering complications from Parkinson’s disease in recent months, a family member said. He was 79 and a longtime resident of St. Louis. 

Harold Benjamin Shapiro was born in Marshfield, Wisconsin, on Aug. 25, 1937, son of the late Louis and  Dorothy Cohen Shapiro. 

He met his wife, the late Yana Perez Shapiro, when they were students at the University of Wisconsin. They were married June 11, 1961. She died Jan. 25, 2005. 

Mr. Shapiro transferred to Washington University, where he received his undergraduate degree in 1961 and a master’s degree in accounting in 1962. A certified public accountant, he worked at Diversified Industries from the 1960s until the firm was bought out in 1992. He held various positions with the firm, including comptroller and executive vice president. 

Among his Jewish and community activities were serving in various positions at B’nai Amoona and at Jewish Family & Children’s Service. Mr. Shapiro served as president of JF&CS from 1988-89. He was on the agency’s board from 1979 and was its treasurer, a member of its strategic planning committee and investments chairman. He also helped in fundraising and assisting in the resettlement of Jews from the Soviet Union.  

At B’nai Amoona, Mr. Shapiro was a former vice president and a past treasurer. He chaired the congregation’s budget committee from the late 1970s to the late 1990s. In 1996, B’nai Amoona started leading Friday Shabbat services at Delmar Gardens. Mr. Shapiro was one of the original participants and continued leading weekly services there until 2012. Mr. Shapiro was also a dedicated minyan participant at B’nai Amoona, and he received the congregation’s Minyanaire of the Year Award. 

At B’nai Amoona, Mr. Shapiro was the head floor gabbai  for more than 15 years and was active in and a board member of the B’nai Amoona Men’s Club since the 1970s. In 1998, he was honored as Katan, Groom of the Torah, for his volunteer service at B’nai Amoona. 

Funeral services were held Sunday, March 26, at the Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery on White Road, where Rabbi Josef Davidson and Chazzan Sharon Nathanson officiated. 

Survivors include his daughters Sheryl Kalman (Craig) of Chesterfield and Laura Shapiro (Mark Gersten) of Creve Coeur; three grandchildren; a brother, Paul Shapiro (Carole) of West Caldwell, N.J., and a sister-in-law, Vivian Zvibleman (the late Leon) of Creve Coeur. Another brother, Alvin Shapiro, died in 1988.

Memorial contributions preferred to B’nai Amoona Joe and Clara Perez Israel Fund or Shomrei Amoonim, or Jewish Family & Children’s Service; Washington University School of Medicine (Joel Perlmutter Parkinson’s Research, Attn: Sue Donavan); or a charity of the donor’s choice.