Stan Felson, a Holocaust survivor who rebuilt his life as a Bay Area developer and property manager, died March 29 in Oakland. He was 87.
He arrived in San Francisco, where relatives lived, in 1947 with his brother Don, the only other survivor of their family. Don Felson, a prominent developer and property manager in Hayward, died in 2002.
Throughout his life, Stan never forgot his past. In 1997 he recorded his story for the USC Shoah Foundation visual history project as well as for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum. He also never forgot his native tongue, Yiddish, relishing the chance to speak with old friends or read Yiddish books or newspapers. Besides English, he also knew Russian, Polish and Hebrew.
He was born in Gluboke, a county seat in northeastern Poland. He once said the borders changed so often he didn’t know what country to say he was from. In 1939, the area fell under the rule of the former-Soviet Union. Between 1941 and 1944, Germany occupied the area. Today it is part of the republic of Belarus.
He survived the Holocaust as a member of the Jewish partisans, escaping his town, then a Nazi-occupied ghetto. He returned to rescue his brother, Don, his mother and a younger brother. His father refused to leave. Ultimately, his father was killed, as well as his younger brother and mother.
As a war refugee in America, Felson created a new life for himself. He changed his name from Zalman Feigelson after settling in the U.S. He got his new start selling plastic bibs, diapers and tablecloths in San Francisco. He later moved to the Pacific Northwest and, while living in Portland, Oregon, met his future wife, Pearl Benson, a Toronto native. They were married in 1951.
They settled in Seattle, where three sons were born. He created his own business, Finetex Co. The name stood for fine textiles, and his labels, with an artist’s rendition of one of his baby boys, proudly stated: “Made by American Workmen.”
The family moved to the East Bay in the late 1950s to be closer to his brother Don and an uncle, who helped the two establish what would grow into thriving residential development and property management businesses. Stan Felson’s company, Felson Properties, Inc., continues to operate under the leadership of his son Jeff.
The two brothers raised their respective families in Hayward, only blocks apart. For years before his brother died, the two would take nightly walks. He was a humble man who took pleasure in simple things. He once commented how much he loved the Odessa rye bread made by the Bay Area’s Semifreddi Bakery. “It reminds me of the bread my mother used to make,” he said. In the early 1990s, he made two emotion-packed trips back to his hometown with family members and other survivors.
Stan Felson was active in the East Bay Jewish community as a longtime member of Temple Beth Sholom in San Leandro and, later, Beth Jacob Congregation in Oakland. He was an avid supporter of Israel and philanthropist of many projects, often quietly helping those in need.
He was predeceased by his wife, Pearl, who died in 2009.
He is survived by his sons Leonard (and daughter-in-law Julia Rosenblum) of West Hartford, Connecticut; Howard (and Efrat Campagnano) of Jerusalem; and Jeff (and Mimi Felson) of Piedmont. He also leaves eight grandchildren, a first cousin and several nieces and nephews.
A graveside service was held March 31 at Home of Peace Cemetery, Oakland, Rabbi Gershon Albert of Beth Jacob officiating.
David Lee Korner fought a valiant seventeen-year battle with brain cancer but lost the fight on March 21 at age 59. He was courageous, ever optimistic, kind and always helpful — in other words, a real mensch.
The son of Hilda and Herbert Korner, brother of Peter, lived his life on his own terms, caring most for his family and friends, the welfare of others, the environment. Wealth to him was in the loving relationships he had with his family, and the closeness he maintained with his many friends, rather than measured in dollars.
His friends were life-long relationships, from his early school years in Mill Valley, to middle and high school friends in Buffalo, New York, to friends at San Jose State University where he earned his B.A. and M.S. He nurtured relationships at each place of employment including the Palo Alto Recreation Department, the Page Mill YMCA, iPass, and Keller-Williams Palo Alto.
His family is overwhelmed with the love, support and outreach of so many who knew him. It has been a comfort to know that his personality and infectious smile positively affected so many people.
Dave’s interests centered around health and fitness. He was a Hawaii Ironman finisher, a participant in local marathons, ran with friends each Friday at the Arastradero Preserve, a Brown Belt 1st degree, a hiker and outdoorsman at every opportunity.
His generous spirit led to his starting the Korner Family Scholarship at Fresno City College to help students with tuition and book expenses while pursuing careers as sign language interpreters. He learned to sign out of interest and often came to the rescue of non-hearing people in need of help. He volunteered at the Friends of the Palo Alto Library, an activity he genuinely looked forward to.
There will be a celebration of his life in late spring. Donations may be made to the Friends of the Palo Alto Library, Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Rd. Q, Palo Alto, CA 94303.