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

Deaths for the week of June 28, 2019

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


Joseph Ambrus

Joseph was born in Budapest on May 7, 1940. His father was conscripted into the Hungarian Labor Battalions and was later killed during a deportation on Nov. 21, 1944. His mother died of typhoid fever in 1942, and he was sent into hiding with his maternal grandmother. He and his grandmother were hidden by a Christian family whose home was protected by the Swiss state. Toward the end of the war, the area was liberated by Russian soldiers.

After the war, Joseph lived in a Jewish orphanage in Buda. He was allowed to visit his grandmother in Pest on weekends. In 1952, she was killed in a car accident and he went to live alone in her vacant apartment.

Joseph Ambrus
Joseph Ambrus
Joseph Ambrus
Joseph Ambrus

Joseph continued going to school and became very physically active and excelled in canoe racing. He left Hungary in 1957 after the revolution, together with five of his older canoeing partners. They ended up in a refugee camp in Gerovo, Yugoslavia, where a Hungarian canoeing coach who had coached in Italy arranged for them to move to a refugee camp in Rome. In 1966, Joseph’s friends obtained Canadian visas and immigrated to Canada.

However, Joseph was 16, he was an orphan, and there was no one to give permission for him to leave Italy. The canoeing coach got him a job in a canoeing club house, where he raced and worked for the club while trying to get an appointment with the Canadian Consul in Rome.

After several failed attempts, Joseph took matters into his own hands. He dressed up “as an American in a Hawaiian shirt” and told the receptionist that he was an old friend of the Canadian consul. It turned out that the Canadian consul had canoed for the Lachine Canoe Club in Canada where Joseph’s friends were now racing. The consul granted Joseph a Canadian visa that listed him as having Italian citizenship. Joseph was finally able to join his friends in Canada and he continued to train hard for canoe club races.

Eventually, Joseph came to the United States. He worked in construction in Rochester, New York, and Chicago, and then he settled in San Francisco. At first, he sold life insurance and then he went to work in the printing business.

Joseph was married and later divorced. The couple had no children. At the time of Joseph’s death, he had no next of kin. However, Joseph had good friends with whom he had worked in the printing business or with whom he canoed or with whom he hung out and played poker. Joseph was also very dear to the medical staff who were his caregivers.

Joseph was buried at Eternal Home Cemetery in Colma on June 24, 2019 surrounded by friends, his physician and caregivers, congregants of San Francisco Congregations B’nai Emunah and Ner Tamid and the staff of Sinai Memorial Chapel.

To learn more about Joseph’s life, visit rememberme.ushmm.org/updates/joseph-ambrus-identified


Robert Ersepke

August 30, 1938 – May 29, 2019

Robert Ersepke was born on Aug. 30, 1938 to Gertrude and Edmund Ersepke in San Francisco. As a boy Robert stood out for his dependability and eagerness to help, qualities that would endure throughout his life. He also had a knack for repair work. At a young age he would assist his parents with work on the house and other projects and became a young handyman. Robert would not shy away from any task.

He graduated from George Washington High School, was called by the United States Army and was assigned to Europe during the height of the Cold War. There he served in the field as an artillery surveyor. He was honorably discharged from the Army and attended San Jose State University. He formed many lifelong friendships while at San Jose State, joined the flying club, and eventually became a pilot.

Robert Ersepke
Robert Ersepke

After graduation Robert became a licensed contractor. A tall, powerfully built man, he was known for incredible feats of strength on job sites. In one case, many decades ago, someone saw him carry a refrigerator strapped to his back up many flights of stairs. Robert had an unstoppable work ethic. He went into business for himself and built by his own hand a thriving garage door installation company. He would work all day and late into the night, and always insisted on doing physical work himself.

Robert had a hunger for life and was successful at many interests and businesses. He was an owner of the bar Fox and Hound in Cupertino. He owned a vineyard in Templeton. He was a commercial and residential landlord. Robert loved hunting for new real estate opportunities and buying and selling real estate. He was always dreaming and searching for a new piece of land, someplace new where his horses could roam. He was also a daring motorcyclist, unafraid of riding on California freeways. Later in life his favorite vehicle was a huge red Dually truck, which he maneuvered on narrow San Francisco streets with no problem.

His passion in life was his animals. He owned many horses, a ranch and a team of dogs. He loved caring for them all and insisted on personally picking up the bushels of hay for the horses.

Robert lived the values celebrated in his favorite genre of movie: The Western. He was our hero. A rugged individualist, daring, charming, courteous, fearless and unflinching in the defense of his friends and family.

Robert lost his loving wife Pat from cancer at a young age. He is survived by his sisters Evelyn Krimen and Marilyn Ersepk, and his brother Arthur Ersepke; cousin Leonard Martin and wife Kathy; his nephews Robert, Gerald, Edmund, Eric, Tommy, and Randall; and his nieces Elizabeth and Nancy.

And also his beloved close friends: Nancy Burdick, Barry and Rosemarie Mirkin, Nigel Endersby, Keivan Ehsanipour, Grace and Jan Pedersen, Bob and Melinda, Pam Hessey, Eugene Moriguchi, and also Carmen, Francisco, Jocelyn, Paco and Emily who became part of his family and made his last year in life so joyous.
And many other friends too numerous to name.

He is also survived by his many horses, his pack of dogs led by a Belgian Malinois named Ziggy… and a vocal cockatoo named Bill.


Dolores Annette Kruman Rudow

February 9, 1938 – June 13, 2019

Dolores Rudow passed away peacefully on June 13, 2019. Dolores was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Harry and Minnie Kruman. She was a devoted and loving wife to Fred Rudow for 72 years; beloved mother to Gail Rudow of Burson, California and Mark Rudow (Barbara Elliott) of Santa Rosa, California; and sister to Jerome Kruman of Boyton Beach, Florida. Dolores was so delighted to watch her granddaughter Zoe Rudow of Oakland, California grow up and become all that she is today.

She is mourned by her extended family of friends whom she played bridge with, tirelessly volunteered with and learned to knit from. She was an avid reader and had a lifelong love of participating in Jewish ritual and community events in her chosen home of San Rafael, California.

Dolores had a long career as a teacher. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Brooklyn College, part of the City University of New York (CUNY). Once in California she received her teaching accreditation at San Fernando Valley State College, now known as California State University, Northridge (CSUN).

The family asks that donations be made to Homeward Bound of Marin, which works to end homelessness through training, housing and hope: hbofm.org/donate

(Sinai SF)