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My Uncle Ira July 19, 2008

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Hara Ann Bouganim Alexandria, VA

(daughter of Beatrice Gollobin Lowenthal & Milton Lowenthal)

My uncle Ira taught me values, by example.

JUSTICE: One family story is of Ira at three in a corner, saying “Ira bad boy.” Nobody knew why. He knew what was right, as he proved his whole life in his immigration work.

Ira & HaraBW-1LOVE: Memories of Ira hugging and dancing with Esther in the kitchen at Rockaway in the ‘50s. Much later, we all marveled at his and Ruth’s poetic vows when they wed.

LOYALTY: On Ira’s visit to me in 1995, after my losses and gall bladder operation, he made me feel protected. Then, in 1997, Ira flew to Indiana to spend hours with his sister Bea on her last day; such a gift to her. Finally, in summer 2007 he and Ruth came to Indiana for Mike’s [Lipschutz] retirement, not an easy trip.

HEALTH: Ira told me I’d have health and long life when I desired food that was good for my body, advice he lived by. Another family story tells of Ira waylaid by blackberries on bike trips with his brother Bill in the ‘30’s. Into his eighties and nineties, he’d hug so strongly he’d pick me up, saying that’s why he worked out, to hug … and carry a suitcase, and he did.

While Ira could never convince me of the centrality of dialectical materialism, he taught me much more. He was the last of his generation in my family. I can only hope his legacy will be one of health, justice, loyalty, and love.

There was to be a memorial in honor of Ruth, but Ira died days before the service, so they’re together, appropriately so. Ruth was a wonderful “second life” partner for my Uncle Ira, sharing experiences, commitment, and love. Her life was fully experienced, with passion for justice, theater, photography, art. Her last years robbed her of options, but not of her sense of humor or dignity. She made me a stronger person, and I will miss and remember her.


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