Letter to the editor: Millstone remembered

I.E. Millstone in a 1964 photo by Herb Weitman.

Nine years ago, I. E. Millstone took himself to a better place (he thought) and in so doing our Jewish community lost our greatest, modern-day hero. For more reasons than he would ever want listed – or that space might permit – there will very probably never be another leader like Isadore Millstone.

That he was a visionary bears the stamp of the Millstone campus, the all-encompassing home of vitally important Jewish community services and the envy of major Jewish communities throughout the country. But I.E.’s mark of philanthropy did not stop at the corner of Schuetz Road and Lindbergh Boulevard. It is literally everywhere throughout greater St. Louis…in the school, hospitals, really in every imaginary worthwhile area of common need.

But bricks and mortar, or envied campuses, were not the truly heroic virtue of Mr. Millstone’s person. Instead, it was the certain fact that he was totally a people person. He was interested in what you were doing, easily accessible, almost always anxious to help or give advice, and modest to the nth degree.

Many in our community were and still are unaware of Mr. Millstone’s impact on the international Jewish community. While he would never accept the mantle of president of the St. Louis J, he did agree to a term as president of the International Jewish Community Centers. If you had the good fortune of accompanying him on a mission to Israel, the importance and effect of his leadership skills — how they were perceived and appreciated — were in full-bloom evidence everywhere one would travel.

About the only defect that I. E. Millstone bore was the fact that he was a terrible golfer!But oh, how he loved the game.

Sadly, virtually all of I. E. Millstone’s contemporaries have now joined him in that better place; and fewer and fewer of his younger “pupils” remain to remember him, to share his concerns, his wisdom, his caring, with our community. I felt it important to write this eulogy in the ninth year of his passing rather than wait for the more traditional decade year of his death.

Tradition was never an important ingredient in I. E. Millstone’s life. Caring for and satisfying the needs of mankind was. And no one ever did it better.

Harris Frank, University City