Mary G. Zorensky, past president of JFed’s Women’s Division

Mary Zorensky

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

Mary G. Zorensky (nee Gendler), a past president of the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and a leader in many Jewish and secular organizations and causes, died Friday, Nov. 27, 2010. She was 88, and had been a longtime Ladue resident at Mansions on the Plaza in University City.

Mrs. Zorensky was born on Nov. 11, 1922, in Kansas City, Mo. She was admired for her devotion to her family as well as for her leadership in Jewish and general organizations in St. Louis, nationally and on behalf of Israel.

Mrs. Zorensky’s late husband, attorney Louis I. Zorensky, was a past president of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis and was also a developer of Crestwood Plaza, Northwest Plaza and the St. Louis Galleria. Mary and Louis Zorensky for many years were among the most active couples in Jewish Federation work and often traveled together to Israel. He died in 2005.

Mary Zorensky was president of the Women’s Division of the Jewish Federation in 1970-71, and was past national chair of the Women’s Division of the Council of Jewish Federations (now Jewish Federations of North America), from 1979-81. She was also chair of the hosting committee for the 50th General Assembly of JFNA (then CJF) in November 1981.

In addition to the above, Mrs. Zorensky was a member of the Jewish Federation’s Board of Directors, its executive committee and chair of its Public Relations Committee.

She served on the board of trustees of the St. Louis Jewish Light and on its editorial and advisory committees; she was a member of the board of the Women’s Division of the United Jewish Appeal; the boards of the Jewish Hospital (now Barnes-Jewish), the St. Louis Region, American Jewish Committee; the St. Louis Convention and Tourism Board, the Friends of the St. Louis Art Museum, the Missouri Botanical Garden, the National Hillel Commission and was an officer of the Eliot Society of Washington University as well as being active with the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the Jewish Agency for Israel. She was also a member of B’nai Amoona and a board member of its sisterhood; a member of Shaare Emeth; a member of the National Women’s Committee of Brandeis University; the St. Louis Chapter of Hadassah; the National Council of Jewish Women, St. Louis Section; the Miriam United Order of True Sisters; the League of Women Voters and the St. Louis Association for Retarded Children. She was active with the United Way, Red Cross and March of Dimes campaigns as well as the Jewish Federation annual campaign.

In Jan. 1973, Mrs. Zorensky was honored along with nine other women with the then St. Louis Globe-Democrat Women of Achievement Award for outstanding community service and personal achievement. She was recognized in the area of human relations.

In May 1982, she received the Community Service Award from the St. Louis Chapter of the American Jewish Committee and in Nov. 1990 was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Women’s Division of the CJF (JFNA) for her leadership and personal contributions to fellow Jews everywhere.

Family members and friends noted Mrs. Zorensky’s commitment to the importance of volunteering, community involvement and generosity to others, along with “her caring, graciousness and sweet nature.” The family also said it wanted to “express their utmost appreciation to Mary’s wonderful caregivers, Carolyn, Mary, Kelly, Emily and Villa, who gave their loving attention to her in her final months.

Barry Rosenberg, executive vice president of the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, said Zorensky was a passionate and committed leader.

“She was truly an international leader, who placed her mark on so many important organizations,” he said. “She was passionate about Judaism, the Jewish people, St. Louis and Israel. We mourn her loss and send our sincerest condolences to the family.”

Survivors include daughters Doris J. Cheng (Peter) of Dallas; Barbara Z. Wagman (Lee) of Pacific Palisades, Calif. and Irene Z. Fowle (the late Frank) of Clayton; and sons David F. Zorensky (Helen) of Ross, Calif; and Edward H. Zorensky (Nancy) of Conifer, Colo.; 12 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.

Contributions may be made to the BJC Hospice, Washington University in St. Louis, or to the Jewish Federation of St. Louis. Private family services were held Monday, Nov. 29. Burial was at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in University City. A memorial service will follow at a later date.