Leon Weiner
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Birth Date : 08/01/1924Death Date : 09/12/2013
Funeral Date : 09/15/2013 Funeral Home : Houston Jewish Funerals
Biography : Leon Weiner, a “guten neshama” or “good soul,” peacefully passed away September 12. He was 89 and after a life of excellent health he had suffered from Parkinson’s disease. A native Houstonian, World War II veteran, civic and philanthropic leader and man of deep faith, Leon felt his greatest accomplishments were his 60-year marriage to the love of his life, Sandra, and their four children, 14 grandchildren and six great grandchildren. His family and Leon’s scores of friends will remember his brilliant mind, gentle nature, clever humor and the extra care he took to avoid anger and confrontation. He was a man of tremendous principles, honesty and unwavering integrity. He was born August 1, 1924 at 2117 Gantry Street in Houston to Esther (Cinman) Weiner and Isidore Weiner who immigrated to the United States from Lithuania. Leon revered his parents. It was his great privilege to care for them as they aged and he visited them each day. Isidore started Weiner’s Department Stores in 1926 and it became a Houston institution. Leon eventually joined the business, which sold clothing, and managed it with his younger brother, Sol, for more than 45 years. Leon was in charge of operations. He had a special interest in the early use of computer analysis of the business and inventory control. Weiner’s grew to more than 150 stores in several states. Leon was most proud of the store’s early policies of integration that welcomed all Houstonians. His father instilled in Leon the message that all people are created equally in G-d’s image. Leon was raised in a Zionist home with his siblings Abe, Ann and Sol. As a child, he was a voracious reader and an exceptional student from Lamar Elementary School through his years at San Jacinto High School. The sacrifices of his oldest siblings, Abe and Ann, allowed Leon to go to Texas A&M University at age 16. When he graduated two years later, he enlisted in the U.S. Army and served in WWII as a second lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers in New Guinea. When he returned home, he earned a master’s degree in business administration from Stanford University. Leon met the love of his life, Sandra Goldfine of Duluth MN on a blind date arranged by Irma Frankel, the mother of Sandra’s college roommate. After a whirlwind courtship that included all the sights of New York City, they were married in August 1953. Leon was close to Sandra’s mother, Fannie (Jack) Benton, and her brothers, Erwin (Beverly) Goldfine and Monnie (Lillian) Goldfine and her many aunts and uncles. Leon counted the days of his life from the day he met Sandra, and often said, “I made the living and she made the living worthwhile.” His philosophy of shalom bayit (peace in the home) included the frequent use of the term, “Yes, dear.” He encouraged his wife to dream and supported her many accomplishments. He cherished his recitation of “Aishet Chayil,” a “Woman of Valor,” at their Friday night Shabbat table. Theirs was a marriage of mutual support, good humor and understanding based on a desire to raise a Jewish family, to be builders of the Jewish community of Houston and supporters of Israel where they frequently travelled to visit Leon’s many cousins. Sandra and Leon literally counted their many blessings and felt a tremendous responsibility to use those blessings to help others. Their extraordinary relationship was based on a rare, mature love and respect. Leon is survived by Sandra and their four children, Bayle (Richard) Drubel of Hanover, NH, Rachel (Robert) Davis of Houston, Andy Weiner of Houston and Renee (Michael) Lafair of Austin. Leon considered, his 14 grandchildren his crown jewels: Anna, Julia, Jonny and Miriam Drubel; Noah (Hilary) Davis, Hannah (Aaron) Weisman; Jacob (Ahuva) Davis, Joey Davis; David Warren, Daniel and Michael Weiner; Rebecca, Louis and Joshua Lafair. He marveled at his six precious great grandchildren: Jordan, Jack, Nesanel, Refael, Tzivia and Tehilla. He was very close to his siblings: Abe (Zelda) Weiner, Ann (Bernard) Bell and Sol (Annette) Weiner, and to the children of Evelyn Weiner, Charlie (Celia and later Arlene) Gaitz, and Tita (Babe) Kamin. To his many nephews and nieces, Leon was a delightful uncle who told them long, complicated and corny jokes and showed them equally long, complicated card tricks. One niece wrote a book about Uncle Leon’s special characteristics and many interests. A master chess player who also excelled at backgammon, his interests ranged from learning about nanotechnology to spiritual matters. He frequently copied articles to mail to friends and bought cooking tools for those who admired his steel cut oatmeal or his other recipes. He was a valued member of a men’s luncheon group that discussed the broadest of subjects each month. Leon served as president of Congregation Brith Shalom, where he and Sandra were founding members. There he chanted the Haftorah “Yonah: (“Jonah”) each year on Yom Kippur. He served as president of Jewish Family Service (1981-82) and was committed to helping immigrants from the former Soviet Union find employment. He felt the highest form of charity is helping someone find a job. The new immigrants who came through JFS knew that if they needed a cosigner on a loan, they should visit Leon Weiner. He was an avid supporter of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society where he established the Leon Weiner Scholarship Fund. In 1985, he was a recipient of the D.H. White Award and was honored on his 80th birthday for lifetime commitment to Jewish education by TORCH. He and Sandra established the Weiner Fellowship at The Kinkaid School and the Sandra and Leon Weiner Philanthropy Award at the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. Together with Sol and Annette, they supported The Emery/Weiner School, of which the middle school was named for their father and they were generous supporters of the United Jewish Campaign in Houston. Leon also was an accomplished matchmaker for Jewish singles, a project he took on during a lull in community leadership roles. What started with pink and blue index cards ultimately became an earnest process that eventually grew into organized gatherings and later singles activities. He leaves a legacy of values for his children to follow, including the imperative to keep good relations with family members. He was a constant teacher to them of humility and Jewish values. He led by his actions. During eight years of declining health, his kind demeanor was still evident. Though he was unable to speak for many years at the end of his life, his sparkling blue eyes and kindness came through and was felt by those who took care of him. The family thanks Houston Hospice for their help this past month and acknowledges with tremendous gratitude those who have been with him through all these years, especially the team of caregivers who were assisting him in his final years of illness: Miguel Ramirez, Jose Ramirez, Antonio Chan, Homero Alarcon, Maritza Quiroz, Lee Anne Zikeli, Ricardo Chavez, Aries Gatmen and Felisari Romero. Adhering to the ideals of Chapter 2 of Mishna 13 in “Pirkei Avot,”“Ethics of Our Fathers,” Leon Weiner had a good eye, was a good friend, a good neighbor and a man who weighed his actions. Above all, he had a good heart. Funeral services will be held Sunday, Sept. 15, 3:00 p.m., at Congregation Brith Shalom, 4610 Bellaire Blvd., Bellaire, TX 77041. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations in Leon’s memory be made to the Leon Weiner Employment Fund of Jewish Family Service, 4131 S. Braeswood, Houston 77025, www.jfshouston.org, to Congregation Brith Shalom, 4610 Bellaire Blvd, Bellaire, TX 77401 www.brithshalom.org or to a charity of your choice.
Dennis AlasI gave up my speech for an hour yesterday to honor this man. I had the privilege of knowing this wonderful family, and I am nothing short of thankful. There was something magical about Leon. I admired how much he was loved in his family, and model my own aspirations to be such a man. My thoughts and memories will be with this family always. Cordially with deepest charity Dennis Alas
6 months ago
Guest CommentMay you all be comforted amoung the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. Yedidya and Susan Fraiman
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Guest Comment Shirley Gluckman Cohn
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Guest Comment Deepest sympathy to his entire family.
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Guest CommentI was so saddened to learn of Leon Weiner's passing away. He was a man of great honor and values, who shared his wisdom, talents, and sheer humanity with the entire Jewish community. Houston was blessed to have a leader of Leon's stature.
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Guest Comment Serving on the board of jfs with Leon was never boring. How well I remember his great sense of humor. Asked his age he replied that he was somewhere between Blue Lagoon and On Golden Pond. In business he was tough but fair. My sympathy to Sandra and the entire family
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Guest Comment it
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Guest CommentIt was a privilege to serve on the JCs
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Guest CommentAs a native Houstonian and having had the privilege to know from very early about the legacy of the Weiner family, I can recall with a clear image the GOOD name of the entire Weiner family. I grew up next door to Sol & Annett Weiner, I served along side Sandra & Leon on various philanthropic boards and have done business with Andy. To the entire Weiner family we send our sincere condolences for a very good man. Sue Sue & Don
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Guest Commentברוך דיין אמת. May his memory be a blessing.
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Guest CommentLeon, a caring, giving,kind and lving gnetleman who gave of his sources, his time and his love. We are blessed to have had him in our midst.
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Guest Comment Ellen and Dan Trachtenberg
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Guest Comment May Leon's memory continue to be a blessing for all.
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Guest Comment andra, who were truly pillars of our community, and became an inspiration to do more. But they always treated us with such friendliness and respect, always interested in us. Atg the time, we were surprised that they even knew our names We came to understand how they viewed the Jewish community as their extended family...
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Guest CommentEllen and I moved to Houston, knowing almost no one. By the simple act of volunteering to work in the Jewish community, we soon encountered Leon and W
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