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

Deaths for the week of Sept. 20, 2019

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

Kenneth Samuel Gordon

May 14,1960–June 13, 2019

Beloved son of Eve Gordon. Dear brother of Joseph Gordon and David and Kim Gordon. Through all of his difficulties and the health challenges in his life, he gave love and happiness to all who knew him. He had curiosity and humor, and loved to meet new people. He enjoyed music and concerts, and birthday parties. All of his teachers and caregivers, family members and friends loved him. His numerous cousins and family will sorely miss him, especially his mom. Rest in peace dear sweet Kenny.

Mindy Kener

Aug. 11, 1953–March 30, 2019

Mindy Kener
Mindy Kener

Senior job developer and community organizer, daughter of Holocaust survivors, Mindy passed away unexpectedly on March 30.Tikkun olam, healing the world, was the basis of her life. It was her Judaism. Who Mindy was in her work, is who she was in life. She was direct, dedicated, passionate and real.

Her connection to nature was as profound as her connection to people and social causes. For Mindy, it was all one miraculous creation.

Her infectious laugh and radiant smile will be remembered by all.

We love and miss you, Mindele.

Survived by daughter Molly, brothers Morris, Willie and his partner Jeff, Phillip Estin, Terry Anders and her community of friends.

Marlene Barbara Swartz Levinson

April 12, 1938–Sept. 6, 2019

Marlene Swartz Levinson
Marlene Swartz Levinson

Marlene Swartz Levinson passed away on Friday evening, Sept. 6, 2019, from complications of Alzheimer’s disease. She is survived by Fred, her husband of 56 years; her children: Marc, Amy (Wayne) and Julie; her six grandchildren: India, Ben, Bebe, Joe, Beckem and Cooper; and her brothers: Clark Swartz (Linda) in Arizona and Jeff Swartz in Dallas.

Marlene grew up in Omaha, Nebraska, where she graduated from Central High School. After graduating from the University of Missouri, Marlene moved to San Francisco. She had heard that the weather never got hot or cold. She considered San Francisco her city.

Marlene served on the board of the San Francisco Jewish Community Center (1970s), and later she was on the board of the San Francisco chapter of the Culinary Professionals. She also chaired the annual Culinary Carnival and was chair of the National Association of the Culinary Professionals.

Marlene had many interests, mainly in food and travel. Marlene represented the Culinary Center at Capezzana Winery outside Florence, Italy, which entailed trips to the winery and the regions of Italy. Her trips with the restaurateur group, DIRONA, brought her to Italy many times. With the Architecture & Design Group of the San Francisco MOMA, she made many trips to Europe.

Marlene became an accomplished chef, learning from her mentor, cooking teacher Josephine Araldo. She was known for her fabulous dinner parties as well as her cooking school.

Her greatest passion became her grandchildren. With her love for teaching, she was a kindergarten teacher when she came to San Francisco; she was endlessly playing games and teaching. She also liked to make homemade chicken nuggets for the kids.

Zichrona l’veracha. She will be missed.

Funeral services were private. Contributions to Congregation Beth Sholom, Chesed va-Tzedek, 301 14th Ave., S.F., 94118


Muriel Mundt Schnayer

Muriel Schnayer, whose life ranged from military medical service in World War II to deep devotion to her family to passionate activism for social justice, environmental, voting rights and arts causes, has died at the age of 93.

Born in a tiny town in north central Wisconsin, Muriel attended high school in Milwaukee, then trained as a nurse at Cook County Hospital in Chicago in the Cadet Nurse Corps of the U.S. Army. While in training, she met Irv Schnayer through his sister, Frieda, who was one of her nursing school roommates. This past July, Muriel and Irv celebrated 70 years of marriage.

After the war, she graduated from Roosevelt University and worked as a public health nurse for the Chicago Maternity Clinic. When Muriel and Irv moved to California in the 1950s, she worked as a school nurse in Los Angeles and in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Following the birth of her children, Muriel shifted her focus to her longtime Oakland community. One of her many experiences as a grassroots volunteer for the League of Women Voters became an organizational legend. While installing yard signs for a local female candidate, a sledgehammer mishap landed Muriel in the emergency room with a thumb injury. By the time she’d been X-rayed and bandaged, she’d distributed campaign literature to all of the staff and every waiting patient who was conscious.

Later she served on the board of directors of the Oakland Symphony League. Following the symphony’s bankruptcy in the 1980s, she was a key part of the organization’s dramatic resurrection through its League auxiliary. Her broad range of interests in the arts also led to volunteering for the Oakland Museum of California and the Hot Springs Music Festival, as well as to multiple volunteer roles and board service at Woodminster Amphitheater.

A longtime member of Oakland’s Temple Sinai, Muriel served on its sisterhood board. With her sisterhood colleagues, she worked tirelessly on Sinai’s campaign to resettle Soviet Jews in the United States, organizing household resources for those who were allowed to emigrate with only the clothes on their backs.

Muriel particularly enjoyed hiking in California parks and backpacking with family in the Sierra Nevada mountains. She mentored girls, including her own daughter, in wilderness survival skills and the joys of nature through her leadership of a Camp Fire Girls troop in Oakland.

She is survived by her husband, Irving Schnayer; her daughter, Laura Schnayer Rosenberg (and partner Andrew Muchin); her son, David Schnayer (and daughter-in-law Jennifer Schnayer); and her grandchildren, Colby, Dalen and Avery Schnayer. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Sierra Club.