Marion Lipsitz, past president of Hadassah, dies at 97

Marion Adler Lipsitz

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

Marion Lipsitz, who was named a Jewish Light Unsung Hero in 2012, and who was a past president of the St. Louis Chapter of Hadassah, died Monday, Oct. 30 in Falls Church, Va. She was 97 and died of natural causes, a family member said.

“We always called mom a true ‘Woman of Valor,’” said Babette Lipsitz Rittmeyer of Concord N.H., in a statement to the Light. “When mom celebrated her 75th birthday, we described her in a family tribute as ‘a champion of causes; a lover of Zionism; a teacher of her faith; caretaker of the family soul, yet the heart of our clan, friend to all who deserve and worker extraordinaire.’”

Marion Adler Lipsitz was born June 18, 1920, the daughter of Noah and Ida Padowitz Adler in Stamford, Conn., where she grew up. After graduating Stamford High School, Mrs. Lipsitz attended Connecticut State College, today known as the University of Connecticut at Storrs.  In 1938, Walt Disney chose her as the ideal Snow White for the campus Snow White Ball at Connecticut State College. She later graduated from Washington University, at age 54.

She moved to St. Louis in 1941 after marrying her husband, Abe, who was in the photographic manufacturing and distribution business. They had five children. Their son, Kenneth, died in 1993 from multiple sclerosis, at the age of 46.

After their son was diagnosed in 1972, Mrs. Lipsitz and her husband started a support group for people with MS, holding monthly meetings at their home.  The couple also established an environmental fund at Camp Sabra in their son’s name. 

“My mother is the gem in all our lives,” said daughter Babette in 2012, at the time of her mother’s Unsung Hero award. “We feel so fortunate that she is so active and so articulate and so involved in our lives. She is such an example of resiliency and inner strength, and she has always been so beautiful, too.”

Mrs. Lipsitz became a life member of her beloved Hadassah in 1942.  She also made each of her daughters, daughters-in-law, and granddaughters life members. She served as president of the large St. Louis Chapter and was Hadassah’s representative to the Jewish Community Relations Council, and served on the JCRC board.

Judy Kramer, past president of the local Hadassah chapter told the Light in 2012, “Every year Marion said she was getting too old to served on our board, and every year we would tell her we need her.  She had tons of experience—and she’s not afraid to say what she thinks.  Everybody loves working with her.”

Mrs. Lipsitz  went to Israel almost every decade, and worked in a factory after the Six-Day War to help Israel’s economy.

In addition to Hadassah, Mrs. Lipsitz had served as a docent to the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center; was a past board member of the Jewish Federation; a life member of the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis Section and the Jewish Hospital Auxiliary.  She was also a member of the local Brandeis University chapter; a member of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, the American Jewish Congress and the Anti-Defamation League.

“I do what I can,” she told the Light in a 2012 interview when she was 91.  I’m an ardent Zionist and since way back I’ve been involved in the community.  Of course I’ve slowed down a lot.  You do know how old I am, right?” 

At the time, she was 91 years old and was taking water exercise classes at the Jewish Community Center three times a week. She had been a swimmer her whole life.

The late Lois Caplan, longtime columnist of the Jewish Light and a good friend of Mrs. Lipsitz, noted her move to Falls Church, Va., near where two of her daughters live, in a 2013 column. Caplan wrote:  “I do not remember a time when Marion did not live in St. Louis. She tells me that she has been here for 72 years and has loved every minute of it, just as everyone loved her.” 

Mrs. Lipsitz’s husband, Abe, died in 2000.

Survivors include a son, Ted Lipsitz (Miriam) of Bend, Ore.; and three daughters, Nina (Roger) Pitkin of Springfield, Va.; Babette Rittmeyer (the late Bill) of Concord, N.H., and Rochelle Lipsitz of Arlington, Va.; six children and six great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m. Nov. 2 at Rindskopf-Roth Funeral Chapel, 5216 Delmar Blvd., where Rabbi Jeffrey Stiffman, Emeritus of Congregation Share Emeth will officiate. Burial will be private.

Memorial contributions preferred to Hadassah, Donor Services, Research/HMO, P.O. Box 1100, New York, N.Y. 10268-1100 (mark memo line on check: Marion Lipsitz).