Yesterday we honored the life of my step father, who passed away on October 31st.
You were a big influence upon my life, and I am proud to be your step son.
I enjoyed our mutual love of history and numerous intricate discussions that lead off of each other with smiles and passion. Getting to know your family history -- being youngest and first of your family born in the United States, as Russian Jewish immigrants in the very early 20th Century -- I learned through your witness, a great and storied period of immigration to our country and New York City. And your generation having won World War II, built a better society when you got back home.
You came into my life in my mid teens, and by example, motivated me more intensely to do my best in high school and get into college. I was proud to go to UC Davis knowing my step father was a professor at UC Irvine. Your home with Mom in the UCI University Hills meant visiting for me was going from UC to UC.
You introduced me to a larger world of Classical Music that I loved in my teenage years when I was supposed to be more into popular music, and you gave me a love of Gilbert and Sullivan and the theater. You were a great cook, and your meals, though hours to prepare sometimes, were always delicious. You expanded my palette, and gave a taste for traveling and finding good food.
Your strong personality came with cantankerousness and was difficult at times, but I'm glad my Mom smoothed you out from how you were before (so said other guests and speakers at your 90th birthday celebration). I'm not sure I'd like to imagine, if Mom hadn't calmed you down, how you would have been 😁.
Having had a long life and large presence, your passing is going to take some time to get used to. But I love my step siblings and I’m so happy they’re a part of my life and will continue to be until the end of mine.