Dear Blog Visitors:
I have been away from my blog for a while, due to my father's illness. Sadly, he died on November 18. While I am saddened by his passing, I am also thankful that he had 92 wonderful years of relatively good health and happiness.
Many in the Rochester community and beyond knew my father because of his many years at Eastman Kodak, in addition to his multiple activities and hobbies. So, I thought I would pay tribute to him with this blog post.
I want to thank Rabbi Sandra Katz for being the officiant at my father's funeral. She did a spectacular job! I also want to thank the Brighton Memorial Chapel for the compassionate services they provided to my family. Additionally, it was a wonderful tribute to my father to have a full chapel for the funeral service.
What follows are two items: 1.) Local newspaper obituary; 2.) My eulogy.
1.) NEWSPAPER OBITUARY
Rochester: On November 18, 2009 at age 92. Predeceased by his wife, Dorothy (Dodge) Grosswirth; parents, Henry & Sallie Grosswirth; siblings, Celia, Jonas, Minna, Regina, Selma, Louis & Edward. He is survived by his children, Raymond (Brenda) Grosswirth, Cheryl Ranalletta & Sally (David) Baker; grandchildren, Rachael Ranalletta, Jennifer Baker & Justin Baker; several nieces & nephews; longtime companion, Shirley Robinson; many close friends, especially Mike Spitulnik.
Sidney was born in 1917 and raised in Rochester, New York. He graduated from Franklin High School, in addition to taking management courses at RIT. He worked for 35 years at Eastman Kodak Company, where he was a Supervisor in the X-Ray Film Packing Division in Building #313. Sidney was a master bridge player, and had a passion for golf, bowling, baseball, football & ballroom dancing.
Sidney's Funeral Service will be held in the chapel at Brighton Memorial Chapel, Sunday, November 22 at 11 AM. Interment, White Haven Memorial Park. Donations in his memory may be made to the charity of your choice.
2.) MY EULOGY
On behalf of my family, I want to thank all of you for coming today. My father would be greatly humbled and honored to know that you are here to celebrate 92 years of a wonderful life.
While we are all deeply saddened over Sidney’s death, there is reason to celebrate as well. My father enjoyed relatively good health for most of his 92 years, which allowed him to pursue his passions for bridge, golf, baseball, football, bowling, and yes, ballroom dancing. He was quite a hoofer and loved to grace a dance floor with the flair of Fred Astaire.
There is so much I could share concerning my 60 years with my father that the material would fill a book. So, I thought I would share just a couple memories with you that are very special to me.
Although he rarely talked about his family history, he told me how grateful he was that I spent a couple years researching the Hungarian roots of his parents. It is a story of struggle, survival and prosperity. Just as his parents fulfilled their dreams in America, my father followed in their footsteps by continuing the honorable family traits of hard work, support of family and charitable work to those in need.
I will always treasure the fact that my father and I had an equal enjoyment of Jewish humor, and in the 1950s, we shared many laughs in front of our 10-inch black and white TV set. In addition to all the Jewish comedians we watched on television, , such as Milton Berle, Gertrude Berg, Sid Caesar, Jack Benny and Jerry Lewis, we would occasionally have an opportunity to see one of our cousins, Jay Jason, on the stage at the Catskills, who was known for his particular brand of Yiddish humor. Having learned some Yiddish terminology from my father and his relatives, I always felt privileged to be part of the inside joke. Perhaps while many watching a comedian on the Ed Sullivan Show did not understand a Yiddish word, I did, and I thank my father and his relatives for introducing me to this special form of wit.
On a more serious note, my sisters and I were very privileged to grow up in a mixed-religious environment. This created a very special holiday atmosphere this time of year, whereby we celebrated Hanukkah with my father’s side of the family and Christmas with my mother’s side. We would occasionally have to improvise, whereby it was not unusual to see the same structure used as both a Hanukkah bush and Christmas tree.
Just as my father took great pride in his children, driven by his desire for the three of us to experience a productive working life and family life, he also took great pride in his grandchildren, Rachael, Jenny and Justin, and often expressed his hopes and dreams for them.
One of my nieces, Jenny Baker, who could not be here today, wrote a wonderful brief reflection on my father’s life. She stated the following: “Grandpa will be in our hearts forever. He will always be remembered as thoughtful, warm-hearted and full of life. He brought happiness to us all, and he is still living within my Mom, Uncle Ray, Aunt Cheryl, Rachael, Justin and me, and generations to come. We all know that his is watching us from above. We will miss him!” I want thank my niece, Jenny, for this wonderful tribute.
Jenny’s brother, Justin, also could not be with us today. However, he wrote the following: “I was extremely sad to hear that Grandpa Grosswirth passed away this week. I was fortunate enough to have talked to him about a month ago, and he sounded as funny and happy as ever, of course. I can’t remember a time when he wasn’t happy, and ready for a fun time out. I loved him with all my heart and remember having the best times and conversations ever with him. He is a prime example of how I want to live the rest of my life…living every moment to its fullest.” Justin closes by stating: “I will miss you Grandpa and will see you in years to come.”
One of my nieces, Rachael, is here today. I want to thank her publicly for the many hours she sat at my father’s bedside during some difficult times. Her love and devotion to her grandfather was greatly appreciated by all in our family.
Just as my late mother, Dorothy, was a very important part of my father’s life for 43 years, I also want to thank his long-time companion, Shirley Robinson, for being at his side the past few years. I don’t know what I would have done without Shirley during my father’s period of health decline in recent weeks. She got him to his doctor appointments and she tried to keep his mood positive during anxious times when my father’s prognosis was not always clear.
I want to conclude my comments with a request. I hope that all of you who both knew and loved my father will continue to share stories about him with each other. It is through these stories and by following the example of my father’s goodness that his legacy will continue to be an inspiration. Thank you for being part of my father’s life story. You honor his legacy with your presence.