Journalist, older-adult advocate Alice S. Handelman passes away at 79

Alice Handelman

Alice S. Handelman, adored mother, grandmother, sister, aunt and friend to many, passed away Monday, May 16, 2022 after a brave battle with leukemia. She was 79.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Mrs. Handelman’s passion for journalism began when she was a teenager, writing and editing for the West Miami Junior High Star and the Miami High News. She was later a reporter for the University of Missouri’s Maneater student newspaper. In that capacity, she met the love of her life, Howard Handelman, when she interviewed him for an exposé about men’s senior honors societies. The two were happily married for 55 years, and she missed him terribly after he died on October 14, 2020.

Mrs. Handelman and her sister Arlene were raised in Miami, the daughters of Ned (z’’l) and Margaret (z’’l) Samuels. A journalism degree at Mizzou was intended to be Alice’s ticket out of modest means. She never forgot the scholarship that made that degree possible, and later devoted much time raising awareness and funding for student journalism scholarships.

Discouraged from pursuing a professional career, Mrs. Handelman turned down a job at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch after college, but she quickly discovered that freelance writing would allow her to balance the expectations of domestic life — and raising three daughters — with her career ambitions. Six decades as a journalist gave her opportunities to interview professional athletes, performers, composers and hometown heroes. In the 70s, she wrote feature stories for St. Louis Blues Goal Magazine and taught a class for women at Meramec Community College called “How to Understand Hockey.” She also hosted “Alice in Hockeyland,” a news show on KPLR-TV on that featured interviews with St. Louis Blues players and their wives.

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In 1981, Mrs. Handelman became Director of Community Relations for Jewish Center for Aged, a position she held until 2000.  While there, she procured donations of original art for the nursing home. Today, the sizable collection decorates the walls of Covenant Place. She was honored by Jewish Federation of St. Louis with the Fred A. Goldstein Professional Leadership Award for excelling in her field.

Upon her retirement, she remained devoted to advocating for older adults, and served as president of the Mid-east Area Agency on Aging (now the Aging Ahead Foundation). She also continued writing as a columnist for the Ladue News, and remained actively involved on many non-profit boards: St. Louis Press Club (past president), Women of Achievement (past president), Aging Ahead Foundation (past president), St. Louis Jewish Light (vice president), Craft Alliance and Women’s Society of Washington University. She is a past board member of Women’s Philanthropy of Jewish Federation, and a life member of National Council of Jewish Women and the Barnes-Jewish Hospital Auxiliary. Her passion for the causes, people and institutions she believed in was genuine, and she served in an outreach and publicity role for each organization.

Those who knew her will always remember her love of flowers and her uncanny ability to revive wilting orchids. She also enjoyed traveling (and writing feature stories about her travels), playing bridge, collecting art glass and — most of all — spoiling her four grandchildren. She had many friends from every chapter of her life, and cherished each of them.

Mrs. Handelman is survived by three daughters Karen Handelman (Marc Hirshman) and Patty Bloom (Jonathan) of St. Louis, and Marjorie Handelman of New York; grandchildren Rebecca and Matthew Bloom, and Abby and Emily Hirshman; sister Arlene Sackman of California; siblings-in-law Neil and Natalie Handelman, and Gary Handelman (Ronni z’’l), and many nieces and nephews.

A funeral service will take place Thursday, May 19 at 1 p.m. at Congregation Temple Israel, #1 Rabbi Alvan D. Rubin Drive (Ladue at Spoede roads). The service will be available via livestream. Visit www.bergermemorialchapel.com for details. Private family internment.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Alice Handelman Scholarship Fund for Feature Writing at the St. Louis Press Club, P.O. Box 410522, Creve Coeur, MO 63141 or http://tinyurl.com/alicehandelman.