Thursday, December 31, 2009 | return to: lifecycles, deaths



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Claire M. Cath

July 20, 1922 – December 16, 2009

Passed away at home in San Francisco at the age of 87 after a long illness.

Claire was born in Providence R.I. and relocated to Boston and then San Francisco. She earned a Master’s in education counseling and co-founded Tufts University’s Family Support Program, which helped expectant families prepare for parenthood. A self-taught and disciplined investor, Claire enthusiastically shared her expertise teaching family and friends. Also a talented artist, she created beautiful pottery and mosaics. But most of all, Claire treasured time with her family and friends. All who knew her will miss her compassion, warmth and love.

She is survived by her husband of 66 years, Stanley Cath, M.D. (88). Also survived by her three children: Phyllis (Erik Gann) Cath, M.D.; Alan (Sue) Cath, and Sandra Cath (David Contis) and six grandchildren: Laura (Erik Olson) and Andrew Rubenstein, Dan (Shannon), Adam Cath, Elliott and Alex Gann. Her sister, Barbara (Murray) Miller, and many nieces, nephews and cousins also mourn her passing.

Private memorial services to be held locally this week and on the East Coast shortly. In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate donations to the National Breast Cancer Foundation at

Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Eugenia (“Gena”) Dworkin

In San Francisco, December 27th, at age 92. Wife of the late David Dworkin for over 50 years and beloved mother of Alan (Annealisa) Dworkin and Paul Dworkin. Doting grandmother of Daniel and Brian Dworkin and dear aunt of many nieces and nephews. Also survived by beloved sister Lillian Block and cherished family member Dorothy Pedrizetti; predeceased by siblings Irving and Morris Myerson and Freda Pollack.

She loved long morning walks and playing Mahjongg with a circle of wonderful friends who will miss her dearly. Special thanks to the caring staff of Laguna Grove Center in S.F. Private funeral services were held at Hills of Eternity Cemetery in Colma. Donations may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association Northern California, 1060 La Avenida St., Mountain View, CA 94043.

Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Phyllis Mirsky Goldberg

Passed away peacefully at home December 16, 2009. Phyllis leaves behind her devoted husband Bernard, her siblings Dorothy Wexler and Marilyn Anker, her children Gail, Susan and David, son-in-law Ton, and daughter-in-law Nancy.

Phyllis was a second generation San Franciscan, where she attended Lafayette, Presidio and Washington schools. She graduated U.C. Berkeley with honors, and there met her husband to be, Bernie.

They were married in 1944 and Phyllis accompanied him on his tours of duty at several military bases. Her life was characterized by service to humanity. In the ’40s and ’50s she was a candy striper and occupational therapist at Shriners and Children’s hospitals. In time she took on volunteer teaching at Lawton Grammar School. In the early ’80s, when computer education reached into S.F. schools, she enrolled in S.F. State’s courses in computer education, and applied this to advanced students at Lawton.

Thereafter she worked with blind students using computer education. This work was the basis for her thesis for her Master’s degree. During this period she was nominated as San Francisco’s School Volunteer of the Year and received honorable mention in a national competition.

Phyllis’ community service was not one-sided. In the ’50s and ’60s she was a leader in the neighborhood fund raising drives of the Jewish Welfare Federation. At Temple Emanu-El, she was a Sunday school room mother as well as a member of the Temple’s School Board. When the Temple developed a Docent Council she became a docent and eventually co-chaired the program.

During all of her years Phyllis had a passion for art and painting. On their joint travels, she made it a point to visit all of the renowned museums of Europe. On local vacations, Phyllis and Bernie packed her easel and paints. Currently some of her work is displayed at her last residence, Rhoda Goldman Plaza. Many thanks go to Kimberly Jones and Nadine Gay, art instructors at the residence for their assistance.

Phyllis’ last days were made more comfortable by Hospice with particular thanks to Chantay Allmond as well as the staff of Rhoda Goldman.

Services were held on Sunday, December 20th at Temple Emanu-El in San Francisco. Please make contributions to your favorite charity.

Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Paul Habas

Paul Habas
Paul Habas of Sonoma, 74, passed away peacefully after a long illness on Sunday December 20, 2009, surrounded by his family. He leaves behind his beloved wife and companion of 51 years, Rori, sons David (Catherine), Glenn (Tisa) and Neal (Kim); his adoring grandchildren Lily, Sadie, Andrew, Nate and Reid; brother Lionel, sister Anita Lasner and her husband Jules; cousin Gregory Kaplan and extended family in New York. He was preceded in death by his sister Sandra Habas.

Son of Sonya and Leo Habas, Paul was born in New York City in January 25, 1935 and was raised in Brooklyn. He attended Brooklyn College and transferred to New York State Institute of Applied Arts & Science. He began a career in financial services, first as a financial planner and later as a business owner. In 1968, he moved to the Bay Area and opened a California branch of a Wall Street company. In the early 1980s, Paul’s entrepreneurial spirit took flight and he co-founded HK Enterprises, a company dedicated to opening Supercuts salons in the Bay Area and later, throughout New England. For two decades, Paul worked tirelessly to grow the business on both coasts. A New Yorker at heart, Paul embraced Bay Area living, raised his sons in Los Altos and Sunnyvale, and often sailed his Bristol sailboat on the San Francisco Bay and later, retired to Sonoma. Paul enjoyed many special family occasions with his children and grandchildren at home in Sonoma, gathered around a beautiful Indiana walnut dining table he built.

A patron of the arts and a supporter of the San Francisco Symphony for many years, Paul was a soloist, pianist and violinist. Paul enjoyed the peacefulness of woodworking and built his sons’ childhood furniture.

Paul will be remembered by his many gifts, including his generosity to his children, grandchildren and siblings, and his mentoring talents that touched the lives of many.

A gathering to celebrate Paul’s life was held Saturday December 26, 2009 at Congregation Shir Shalom, 252 West Spain Street, downtown Sonoma. Burial will be private.

In lieu of flowers, family and friends are invited to make a donation in Paul’s memory to USCF Foundation, attention Diabetes Center Research & Operations, PO Box 45339, San Francisco, CA 94145-0339 or

For further information, or to send a message to the family, contact Mandel Funeral Services of Northern California at (866) 962-6335 or


Susan Landauer, 1923-2009

On Dec. 10th 2009 Susan Landauer died after a protracted illness.

Susan, a Holocaust survivor, was born to wealth and comfort in Frankfurt, Germany in 1923, one of three children, Eva, Susan and Paul of Dr. Karl and Karoline Landauer, Dr. Landauer was a prominent psychiatrist, and was one of the founders of the Frankfurt Psychoanalytic Institute.

With the rise to power of the Nazis in 1933, their lives changed. The family first fled to Holland where Dr. Landauer resumed his psychiatric practice, but destiny once again intervened after the fall of Holland in WWII. In 1943 the family was rounded up along with many other Jews. While awaiting deportation to hell via the notorious cattle cars, Susan desperately bolted from the line of waiting Jews and was able to successfully elude her German captors. This was Susan’s first experience with miracles.

Thereafter Susan went underground and for much of the war worked as a maid for a Dutch butcher and his 10 children. Susan acquired the admiration and gratitude of the family when she was able to procure food from Dutch farmers by using her charm and creativity, during Holland’s infamous year of hunger in 1944. The only possession Susan retained from her earlier life was a small figurine of a dog — the only remaining porcelain vestige of another life in a distant time. She kept it until she died.

Susan’s father, mother and sister were sent to Bergen-Belsen, but her brother was able to escape, making his way to France, Spain and Israel — then called Palestine. Susan’s father perished at Bergen-Belsen, but her mother and sister survived — Susan’s second miracle — and the family was reunited at war’s end. At this time Susan decided to accept a scholarship to the University of Geneva, which developed a course specializing in the treatment and needs of war orphans, of whom there were many.

Eventually the family decided to come to the U.S., where they arrived with $15 in their pocket. Susan immediately accepted a low prestige job the next day, working as a maid and babysitter — a job that required a one-hour subway commute to a distant location in Long Island. Susan’s mother, an excellent cook, found that she could make extra money by baking bread and cookies. Also the three women slept in the living room and rented out their bedrooms to boarders. By hook and by crook, by dint of fingernails and wit, they scraped out an income and the family survived. Eventually Susan’s sister Eva, obtained a scholarship to Columbia, and later a Fulbright scholarship, enabling her to take advanced training in London with Anna Freud. Susan’s brother, Paul, obtained a job as a welder while studying high school subjects in night school. Later he obtained a scholarship to Antioch, and later to Columbia. Eventually he became an expert in the use of computers.

Susan’s love of children led her to become a nursery school teacher. In the course of time her executive abilities were recognized and eventually she became a director of childcare agencies, initially at the Berkeley Day Nursery and later at the Family Service Agency in San Francisco.

The story of Susan is a testimony not only to her energy and creativity, but also to the Landauer family who, despite overwhelming personal tragedy, and with little help from welfare agencies, and with no self pity, and lots of guts, was able to pick up the pieces and go on to lead useful and productive lives. To the end Susan radiated a sense of cheerfulness and optimism despite having endured unspeakable adversities.

She will be fondly remembered by many, including her husband, Dr. Martin Fleishman, her cousins — Otto Kahn, Judge Harold E. Kahn, Michael Kahn J.D., Ginny Gavage — and stepdaughter and son-in-law, John and Raina Lipori, and sister-in-law Joyce Landauer, and many others.

Mervyn Harry (Porteguese) Porter — passed away on December 18, 2009 at the age of 92.

Merv was born in Spokane, WA, but he grew up in San Francisco. His family were members of Congregation Sherith Israel. He loved the City — the restaurants, architecture, train service on the Bay Bridge, his Richmond District paper route, politics and Herb Caen. He was a proud graduate of Commerce High School and then the University of San Francisco in 1938. During WWII he served as a medic at Letterman Hospital in the Presidio.

Merv’s career was centered on the San Francisco furniture business. He worked for many firms as a salesperson, bookkeeper and buyer. He was successful in several of his own business ventures as well. He married his Spokane childhood friend, Vivian Dornberg, in 1946. They settled in Orinda, which became their home for the next 45 years. They were married for 50 years until her death in 1996.

Merv was an avid tennis player, golfer and Internet/e-mail enthusiast. He was a member of the S.F. Masonic Lodge #102. Merv retired and moved to Rocklin in 1990. It was there that he began a three-day a week volunteer commitment with the City of Rocklin working in finance, planning and human resources. He also volunteered at Sierra Community College processing books in the library and enjoying coffee with college students and staff. In June 2008, he was named the City of Rocklin’s outstanding volunteer and received recognition from Sen. Dianne Feinstein. Merv believed that staying active “keeps you young.” He considered himself pre-elderly at 90! He was a mensch. Always engaging, kind and optimistic, he loved life and the people around him.

Merv is survived by his son Bryan Porter (Ernie Cute), daughter Elaine Porter (Ann Ritzma) and grandsons Ben Porter and Noah Porter as well as his long-time friend and business partner Norman Polse and sister-in-law Helen Porter and family. He was predeceased by his wife Vivian Dornberg (1996), his brother Warren (Porteguese) Porter (2007), his father Harry Porteguese (1956) and mother Rose Lippet (1964).

There will be no public service. Donations in his memory may be made to: the California Academy of Sciences or the San Francisco SPCA.

Martha Withers Cheaney Rosen

Martha Withers Cheaney Rosen
Passed away in San Francisco on Christmas Day after a courageous battle with cancer. Martha is survived by Steven H. Rosen, her husband of 25 years. Also survived by her sons, Brad (Barbara) Bristow and their son Tyler, and Patrick Bristow; and by her brothers, David (Barbara) Cheaney and Jeff (Janet) Dusch; plus a number of adoring nieces and nephews.

Martha’s interests included genealogy and history, pursued through membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution and her shops, Heart of the Lion and Invitations Galerie. Her concern for all those around her showed all the way to Afghanistan and Iraq, for example, through her recent work on care packages for our troops.

Special thanks to California Pacific Medical Center for their care, especially the ER, MSICU, CCU and 5 North. The family suggests that donations in her memory go to CPMC Foundation, 2015 Steiner St., San Francisco, CA 94115, Attn. Mr. Mapp. Private burial took place this week at Salem Memorial Park in Colma.

Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Joy Sugarman Spiegelman

In San Francisco on December 23rd 2009 at age 78 years. Beloved wife of Leland Cyril Spiegelman for 58 years; loving mother of Marc (Jayne) Spiegelman, Roxanne (Stan) Cohn, and Heidi (Robert) Feldman.

Private services have been held. Contributions to Hadassah Organization of America, Inc., 1715 Polk St., S.F., CA 94109, or Guide Dogs for the Blind, 350 Los Ranchitos Rd., San Rafael, CA 94903, Make-A-Wish Foundation, 235 Pine St., 6th Floor, S.F., CA 94104 or Hospice by the Bay, 1902 Van Ness Avenue, S.F., CA 94109.

Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Albert Elie Tordjman

Albert was born in Lyon, France to Henri (deceased) and Alice Tordjman. Raised in San Francisco, he attended Lincoln High School. He was a world-renowned chef with a passion for the culinary arts from a young age and would watch his mother Alice, also a chef, with curiosity and interest far beyond his years. The teenaged Albert traveled to Israel and France, eventually working with legendary chefs such as Paul Bocuse, George Blanc, Alain Ducasse and Masa.

When he opened the small but always crowded Flying Saucer Restaurant in the Mission District, with artistic cuisine fusing many different ingredients, it garnered rave reviews around the world. Well loved by many in the food community, he was respected for his passionate demand for perfection. One of the first instructors at the California Culinary Academy, he was always willing to share his love of food.

Albert passed away from a brain hemorrhage in September, in Pattaya, Thailand, at age 57. He is survived by his wife Noi of Pattaya; children Remy and Sabine and their mother Lisa; his mother Alice; and sisters Ruth (Virgil) Dennis, Marcelle (Chris) McKay and Miriam (Steve) Lite; and a number of beloved nieces and nephews. Funeral services were held at Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma.


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