Lucie Buchbinder, Kindertransport survivor, dies at 83

Friends and family might describe Lucie Buchbinder as a force of nature. The former Austrian Jewish refugee made it out of Hitler’s Europe on the Kindertransport, and subsequently devoted her life to helping others.

Paradoxically, it took a train to stop the Oakland resident. Buchbinder died June 19, struck and killed by an Amtrak train near Jack London Square. She was 83.

“She always felt a compassion for people in need,” said her son, Eric Buchbinder. “A lot had to do with her background and the discrimination she had gone through.”

Born in Vienna, Lucie Hahn Buchbinder escaped to England at 14. Her immediate family also managed to survive the Holocaust and come to America. Buchbinder went on to graduate from UCLA and earn a teaching credential from U.C. Berkeley.

With her first husband, Egon Buchbinder, she had four children. She was twice widowed, marrying her third husband, Martin Dreyfuss, in 1988.

Buchbinder was an activist’s activist. Starting with Democratic politics and the civil rights movement, she went on to work and volunteer tirelessly for progressive causes such as low income housing, low cost loans, poverty and hunger.

After her retirement in 2000, she was instrumental in developing the Bread Project, a Bay Area nonprofit that trains low-income adults to become professional bakers.

Said Lili Devito, executive director of the Bread Project, “She cared about the students a lot and would go the extra mile. If they needed transportation, she would give it.”

Though secular, Buchbinder was proud of her Jewish heritage. She participated in Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Project, and frequently visited a cousin living in Israel. She met her husband, Martin, through a personal ad in j. (then called the Jewish Bulletin).

Lucie Buchbinder is survived by husband Martin Dreyfuss of Oakland; children Jonie Sommer of San Rafael, Janet Buchbinder of Albuquerque, N.M., Ann Buchbinder of New York City, and Eric Buchbinder of Orinda; and three grandchildren. A memorial service will be held 2:30 p.m. Sunday, July 29 at the California Ballroom, 1736 Franklin St., Oakland.

Dan Pine

Dan Pine is a J. staff writer. He retired as news editor in 2020. Dan can be reached at dan@jweekly.com.