a lit memorial candle with a Sinai Memorial Chapel logo on it

Deaths for the week of April 5, 2019

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel.

Bernard Clyde Cohen

Noted architect Bernard Clyde Cohen passed away from natural causes on March 24, 2019. Born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 4, 1929, he was known by his middle name, Clyde. Clyde attended MIT and then transferred to UC Berkeley, studying under Dean William Wurster, where he obtained a Master’s Degree in Architecture. Shortly after graduation he entered into business with Jim Leverson.

Among his noted projects, done mostly within the modernist aesthetic, Clyde designed the award-winning Red Rock Hill condominiums in the Diamond Heights district of San Francisco. In later years he turned his attention to commercial projects, ultimately working as a lead project architect for the city of San Francisco. His commercial work included buildings for TRW and facilities within San Francisco Airport.

He is survived by his sons, Clifford and Douglas, and his grandsons, Sean and Eric. He will be deeply missed, but he will remain in our hearts forever.

Funeral services were held at Hills of Eternity Memorial Park, Colma.

(Sinai SF)

Victor Ian Gilbert

Victor Ian Gilbert was a longtime resident of San Francisco. He passed away March 13, 2019. He is preceded in death by his father Cyril Gilbert, mother Ethel Gilbert and grandmother Sabina Cohen. He is survived by his sister Judith Rief, niece Debbie Rief-Adams and her husband Clay Adams and grand-niece Ella Adams and nephew Brian Rief along with his family, Kim Rief and children.

He was born in San Francisco. He owned and operated Litho Print Press in San Francisco for decades. In his youth he traveled around the world on a freighter and met extraordinary people. He was a quick study and always interested in other cultures and customs. He made lifelong, worldwide friends that continue beyond his death.

Private funeral services were held under the direction of Sinai Memorial Chapel, and interment was at Hills of Eternity, Colma, California.

When calling him on the phone, his favorite expression was to ask, “Did you call to make a fuss over me?” That was our dear Vic; we loved him.

(Sinai Redwood City)

Leo B. Helzel

November 1, 1917–March 21, 2019

Leo Barth Helzel passed away at the age of 101 at his home in Oakland on March 21, 2019. Leo was a remarkable and unique individual — accountant, attorney, entrepreneur, professor, author, philanthropist, friend and family man. He possessed an unparalleled zest for life and an optimistic spirit. His favorite expression was fantastic, a term he would happily use to sum up his life.

Leo B. Helzel
Leo B. Helzel

Author of “A Goal Is a Dream with a Deadline,” Leo transformed into reality the many goals he had for himself while helping others do the same. He had a gift for matching opportunities with talents and helped countless individuals advance their careers and improve their lives. Leo had a vast circle of friends of all ages and was a mentor to generations of business students and others.

Leo was born in New York City on November 1, 1917 to Philip and Hannah Helzel; he had two older siblings, Sylvia and Max. His parents immigrated from Podhajce, a shtetl that was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before World War I. Leo graduated from Townsend Harris, an honors tuition-free preparatory school for the City College of New York. Leo kindled his relationships with lifelong friends as well as his passion for sports there — his yearbook describes him as manager of the baseball and basketball teams. His college years were demanding; in addition to attending ROTC and night classes at City College, where he graduated in 1938, he worked full time at his uncle’s accounting firm, Gerber & Landau.

Eager for vacation and adventure, Leo drove to California with a friend after graduation. Through serendipity, he found a job as an accountant at Riley & Hall in Los Angeles. After the tax season in 1941, he accepted a stint in Washington, D.C., with the Quartermaster Corps and was selected to work with the junior senator from Missouri, Harry Truman, on the Defense Investigating Committee. Leo wrote: “I was absolutely amazed at Truman’s retention ability, his ability to analyze a situation, and to bring everything forward.”

Called up to serve in World War II, Leo accepted a Navy commission as a full lieutenant and was in Pan America’s first training program for navigators. Soon after, he served as a navigation flight instructor. Following a year flying in the Caribbean, South America, South Atlantic and Africa, he was assigned to the Pacific as a navigator for the U.S. Naval Air Transport Services. He flew extensively in the Pacific, mostly “flying boats,” from Hawaii to Johnston Atoll and the Marshall Islands and, as the war progressed, to New Caledonia, Saipan and Manila. His home base was the Alameda Naval Air Station, and he was immediately attracted to the beauty and community of what would become his beloved East Bay.

Leo’s wartime experiences sparked his courage to take risks, a trait he exhibited throughout his adult life. In 1946, Leo founded a CPA practice in Oakland, a predecessor to RINA Accounting Corporation. That year he also met Florence Borsuk on a blind date at the Alameda Naval Air Station, and they were married just four months later. Leo and Florence settled in Oakland, where they had two children, Larry and Deborah. Aspiring to become a lawyer, Leo took night classes at Golden Gate University while also teaching tax and accounting there. He later opened a law practice in Oakland, which became Helzel, Leighton, Brunn, & Deal. His entrepreneurial instincts inspired his involvement in many businesses over the years, including cofounding and serving as Chairman of Dymo Industries for nine years.

A believer in lifelong education, Leo earned his MBA at the Haas School of Business in 1968 and his LLM from the Boalt Hall School of Law in 1970. He served on the boards of the California College of the Arts, Boalt Hall School of Law, and the Haas School of Business, where he was the first chairman. He taught courses in international business and finance, entrepreneurship and “top-down law” at Haas and was honored as an adjunct professor emeritus in recognition of his almost 40 years of service. In 1986 Leo and Florence established the Helzel Chair in Entrepreneurship & Innovation at Haas.

Leo’s avocational interests were many and diverse. He and Florence traveled the world together and collected art along the way. They especially loved their annual European hiking trips. He was an avid tennis player, enjoyed the San Francisco Symphony and frequent museum visits, took pleasure in his and Florence’s weekly hikes in Redwood Regional Park, adored his second home and friends in Palm Springs, and appreciated just about anything related to UC Berkeley. The family foundation that Leo and Florence established has helped to grow and support numerous educational and cultural institutions throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Leo was especially proud of his longtime association with the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art & Life and Hebrew Free Loan’s Pollak Community Loan Program.

In recent years, Leo delighted in spending time with his four-generation family and counted his many blessings. “We are so lucky” was one of his favorite refrains.

Leo is survived by his loving family — his wife of 72 years, Florence; his two children and their spouses, Larry Helzel (Rebekah) and Deborah Kirshman (David); grandchildren Rachel Concannon (Jason) and Daniel Kirshman (Jennifer); great-grandchildren Riley and Jacob Concannon and Sienna and Skylar Kirshman; great-nephew Zachary Pine; and several other family members with whom he maintained close relationships. The family is deeply grateful to Leo’s devoted caregivers, Betty Irving and Tasi Gurung. A private family service has been held.

Contributions in Leo’s memory may be made to the Magnes Collection of Jewish Art & Life, UC Berkeley, 2121 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94720-6300; givetocal.berkeley.edu/magnes.

Diane Ellen Licht

Diane Ellen Licht was born Nov. 19, 1955 in San Mateo, and raised in San Carlos.

Diane Ellen Licht
Diane Ellen Licht

She passed away Feb. 25, 2019, due to complications from influenza and pneumonia.

She was a professional landscape architect, with a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, and she held a CA license. Later she was simultaneously an artist, painting in oils, mostly landscapes. She lived successively in Fairfax, San Rafael and Sonoma.

She is survived by her parents Norman and Carolynn Licht, her brother Ronald Licht and his wife Catherine, her nephews Daniel and Andrew Licht, and her niece Hana Licht. She is survived by 14 first cousins. Her grandparents were the late Mayer and Sarah Licht and Jack and Serena Pinsler.

Diane liked music, dancing, walking, swimming, yoga, photography, drawing, movies, interior design, gardening, genealogy.

A funeral was held at Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City, and she was laid to rest at Eternal Home in Colma on Feb. 28 among many of her extended family. Donations in memory of Diane may be made to the Rabbi’s Fund at Beth Jacob in Redwood City, the Sarcoma-Oma Foundation, or the charity of choice.

Harvey Rogers

Harvey Rogers of Belvedere, California, passed away peacefully at age 95 with loving family by his side. As a third-generation San Franciscan, Harvey always greeted family, friends and even strangers with the biggest smile ever and was ready to share a detailed story on any number of subjects which might reel in his captivated audience. As much as he loved telling stories, he equally loved focusing on you and hearing your stories.

Harvey Rogers
Harvey Rogers

Life delighted Harvey in so many ways. He regularly demonstrated to so many of us that he was never too old to learn. Many referred to Harvey as “The Happiest Man on Earth” — a model for positive thinking, extremely kind, generous and optimistic. Always looking forward and never regretting the past. Always happy to beat you in a game of Gin Rummy.

In 1955 Harvey married Nancy Bernheim Rogers, a first-generation San Franciscan. They raised their two sons, Ken and Steve, on the Belvedere Lagoon and exposed them to the joys of embracing the outdoors, adventures and travel. Together Harvey and Nancy traveled the world, making friends wherever they went. Nancy passed away in 2011, just shy of 56 years of marriage.

In May 1995, after retirement and as a new Master Gardener, Harvey stepped forward to help lead the project of turning a mudhole at Blackie’s Pasture in Tiburon into a public garden filled with native plants. In November 2013 the space was officially named “Harvey’s Garden,” and a bronze plaque was erected in October 2014.

Harvey’s life lessons will be remembered by so many, including his two loving sons, Kenneth Rogers (Jennifer Knowles) and Stephen Rogers (Catherine Rogers); two granddaughters, Kristi Rogers and Jenny Rogers; nieces and nephews, Judy Bettman Matzkin (Terry Matzkin), Roger Bettman (Eileen Bettman), Barry Bettman; and four great-nieces and great-nephews, Rabbi Laurie Matzkin (Aviv Matzkin), Aaron Matzkin (Erica Matzkin), Sarah Bettman and Justin Bettman. Harvey was the great-granduncle to three little ones. May his memory be a blessing.

Donations in Harvey’s memory may be made to: The Tiburon Peninsula Foundation, P.O. Box 210, Belvedere Tiburon, CA 94920 (indicate on check “Harvey’s Garden”) or at tiburonpeninsulafoundation.org, or the charity of your choice.

Henry Slamovich

September 12, 1927–March 15, 2019

Despite suffering far too many unspeakable tragedies in his life, Chaim Wulf Szlamovicz (Henry Slamovich) was actually one of the luckiest guys in the world. He almost reached the ripe age of 92, with his mental acuity at a full 100 percent and his boundless energy fading only in his last few months. But his luck didn’t start late in life.

Henry Slamovich
Henry Slamovich

He was lucky to be born on Sept. 12, 1927 in his beloved Dzialoszyce, Poland, a town where Jews had lived since the 14th century. The 8,000 Jews there — out of a total population of 9,000 — prayed at many tiny shtiebelach, or at the great synagogue with its massive plastered walls, ornate murals and beautiful stained-glass windows.

Henry was lucky to be born into a large, loving family consisting of parents, grandparents, brothers and sisters, all living under one roof. They often gathered around the giant ceramic stove in the kitchen that kept it toasty during the long winter months. He had many aunts, uncles and cousins living in town. His father ran a thriving business raising cattle, selling the meat to the Polish army and the hides to fancy leather manufacturers. Henry felt lucky when his father took him on business trips traveling to Kraków on the narrow-gauge railway.

He was lucky to have lifelong friends from Dzialoszyce, like the three Sarna brothers and Moshe Goldberg, who looked so much like Henry that their teachers and, later, their concentration camp guards couldn’t tell them apart.

In September of 1940, Henry was lucky that his mother sent him to the main square in town to buy vegetables. When German troops suddenly cordoned off the square, they threw about 40 young men and boys, including Henry, into trucks and took them to a labor camp called Plaszów. This may not sound like good luck, but within two years, his family and most of the Jews in Dzialoszyce were killed. Henry stayed alive.

Once on a sewer building detail in Plaszów, the man working next to Henry fell over dead from a bullet coming far across the camp from the Commandant Getz’s high-powered rifle. Henry was lucky on another day, when an SS guard hit Henry over the head with a two-by-four instead of shooting him. The guard was angry that Henry tried to help his struggling, middle-age schoolteacher dig a deep enough trench.

After someone escaped from a work detail outside the camp, Commandant Getz took out his pistol and shot every fifth person in the group. Henry was lucky that he was the second in the lineup.

But his biggest stroke of luck came when Henry was taken to Oskar Schindler’s enamel factory, where he was able to survive the war. As the war was coming to an end, Henry was lucky the factory was moved from Poland to Czechoslovakia. Unlike the Poles, the Czech peasants mercifully threw some raw potatoes over the fence, which helped stave off starvation.

After the war, he was lucky to meet a Jewish Russian soldier who helped him make his way back to his hometown. While resting in a boarding house in Dzialoszyce , several fellow survivors sleeping on the second floor were murdered late at night by group of drunken Polish police and firemen. Luckily, they never made it to the third floor where Henry was sleeping.

And after five years of waiting in a displaced persons camp in Deggendorf, Germany, he was lucky to finally get permission to emigrate to the United States of America thanks to the Jewish community of Stockton, California, who sponsored him. Here in the United States, Henry was truly reborn.

He was lucky to meet Miriam Glatt, a survivor of Auschwitz, while she was visiting her sisters in the U.S. He convinced her to marry him, despite her reluctance to leave the newly created state of Israel, which she loved so much.

Marrying Miriam meant he had an extended family again, with sisters-in-law Sally and Hunka and brothers-in-law Harry Recht and Charles Glass (both of blessed memory). They were able to celebrate the Jewish holidays and bar mitzvahs together for decades to come.

He was lucky that Harry became his lifelong, trusted business partner. They started with City Hall Market, followed by a chain of laundromats and later rental properties.

He was lucky later to have three children: Rochelle, Joseph and Elliott.

After Miriam’s death, Henry got lucky again and found the amazing Bella Fox. They shared 34 years of marriage. After his children found their soulmates, he was lucky to have a son-in-law Joel Blumenfeld; daughters-in-law Carol Langsom and Gwendolyn Wallace; six grandchildren Jonah and Miriam (of blessed memory) Blumenfeld, Eric, Jason, Aaron and Ari Slamovich; and one great-grandchild, Jordan Blumenfeld. Adding the Fox side to the equation, he was lucky to have stepson Elan and his wife Becky (of blessed memory); two more grandchildren, Kira and Moriah; and three more great-grandchildren, Hope, Rebecca and Aryanna Poole.

And two years ago, a year after Bella’s death, Henry got lucky finding love and companionship with Susie Julius. Susie and Henry shared every Shabbat together, starting with a Friday night meal at one house and ending with Havdallah at the other.

He was also lucky to create many multigenerational friendships during his years in San Francisco.

Henry’s luck largely was created out of his sheer, unbending force to survive and to bear witness to history, and to his love of life. His bright blue eyes and joyous smile will be missed by all and the lessons his life offers remembered by many.

Please send a donation if you wish to his synagogue, Ner Tamid 1250 Quintara Ave., San Francisco, CA 94116.

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