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Deaths for the week of July 26-August 1

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel. This page will be updated throughout the week. Submit an obituary here.

Melanie Burk Adler Baron

December 30, 1946–July 28, 2020

Melanie Burk Adler Baron, beloved daughter, sister, wife, mother, cousin, teacher, and friend, passed away on July 28, 2020, in San Francisco with her adoring husband, Stephen, by her side. Melanie was born in San Francisco on December 30,1946, to Harold and Pola Burk, growing up in the Richmond District with her younger brother, Ron. Melanie went to Lowell High where she established herself as an extraordinary musician with a pure soprano voice. She later graduated with a Masters from SFSU, where she pursued her passion for teaching.

Melanie was an unforgettable, vibrant woman, who made friends everywhere she went. She was authentic, generous, kind, and always eager to please people. These qualities made her an invaluable friend and changed the lives of hundreds of students across the Bay Area.

A brief marriage blessed Melanie with a son, Avi, whom she loved with all her heart. Melanie raised Avi as a single parent for 8 years, working tirelessly to provide the very best childhood for her son that she possibly could, exposing him to art, culture, baseball and the adventures the world offers. She was overjoyed when he married his longtime partner, Katie Steiman, less than two months ago, although she had been telling people Katie was her daughter-in-law for years.

In 1987 she married Jay Adler, who loved her fiercely, and they built a phenomenal life together — raising a son, building a business, becoming homeowners, and embracing every joy that life had to offer, including her “adopted” daughter Sarah. When MS made it impossible for Melanie to continue her teaching career, she found a new calling working with Jay and began dedicating more of her time to local charities. She faced her disease with strength and determination, and spent many hours counseling people who were newly diagnosed with MS. In 1996, Jay fought his own battle when he was diagnosed with cancer and passed in 1998, leaving Melanie devastated and heartbroken. After Jay’s death, Melanie threw herself into her charity work and quickly became an innovative and successful fundraiser.

Melanie met Steve Baron in 2000 on JDate and opened her home to Steve in 2003 when he had knee replacement surgery. She kept asking her friends, when was he going to leave? He never did. How could he leave her smile, beauty, love, intelligence and “extrovertedness”? They married February 12, 2006, proving the love they shared for each other came during the best parts of life. They enjoyed fine food, travel, live music and theater, but above all they both loved their family, and welcomed those they loved as family every day of their lives. Together they wrote a beautiful final chapter for Melanie, and Steve was by her side until her final breath.

Melanie lived life to the fullest. She was a force of nature, truly impossible to ignore or forget. She didn’t just make friends, she made family — and she loved that family with everything she had and everything she was. She will be remembered lovingly by all of those whose lives she touched — family, friends, and students alike.

Melanie is survived by her mother, Pola, her son Avi and his wife Katie, her dear Sarah, her husband Steve and her extended family and many friends.

Sinai SF

Dr. Robert Richter

July 21, 1930–March 3, 2020

Dr. Robert Richter passed away at age 89 on March 3, 2020, in La Verne, California, leaving a legacy of Holocaust survivor, brilliant career in Aeronautical Engineering at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory/California Institute of Technology, inquisitiveness, contributions, and advocacy in varied areas of interest, and a love of music, travel, and camaraderie.

Dr. Robert Richter
Dr. Robert Richter

He was born on July 21, 1930, in Hanover, Germany, to Elisabeth Regina Richter (née Heymann) and Georg Gustav Leopold Richter. Robert survived the Holocaust in Germany as a child and teenager, fleeing and hiding in different places, along with his two siblings and their parents, all separated from each other during the later years of the war.

After WWII, he completed high school in Goslar, Germany, matriculated at Philipps University in Marburg/Lahn, and received a dental degree. Finally, in the end of 1951, Robert obtained a visa and immigrated to the USA. A few months after he arrived by boat in St Louis, he was drafted into the U.S. Armed Forces for boot camp, then served at Fitzsimons Hospital in Denver, Colorado, as a dentist.

Thereafter, Robert studied Mechanical Engineering at Cal Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo from 1954-56, and earned a Masters degree in the same field at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York, June 1958. There he pursued further graduate study in Aeronautical and Nuclear Engineering, and received a PhD in Aeronautical Engineering at the University of Cincinnati. Robert subsequently worked at General Electric Corp. in Schenectady, NY, in Nuclear Engineering and Electrical Space Propulsion, and then at Xerox Corporation, where he studied High-Enthalpy Arc Heaters, High-Power Radiation Sources, Gas and Solid-State Lasers, and Space Power.

In April 1979, Robert joined Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology in Pasadena with the Advanced Technology and Applications Group of the Propulsion Systems Section. There he had a wide array of space responsibilities, including design of heat transfer for the Hubble spacecraft. His work focused on the development of systems for extraterrestrial production of propellants.

Among Robert’s numerous publications, awards, and honors was NASA’s recognition for his contributions to the successful launch of the Mars Observer in 1992, and the receipt of NASA’s Exceptional Service Medal in 1996 for the development and application of an integrated thermal and electrical power model for the TOPEX spacecraft. This contributed significantly to a greater understanding of mission capabilities and limitations, enhancing future scientific successes.

Robert’s intellectual curiosity led him to read widely, avidly study/research, and advocate on various scientific, medical, and world affairs issues. He enjoyed travel, particularly to Asia, and learning about other cultures. Meanwhile, he maintained his love of music, singing and playing various instruments, including guitar, and valued his surrounding friendships. After retirement, he enjoyed substitute teaching physics at high schools, where the students enjoyed him immensely. Also, Robert visited local schools to talk about lessons from the Holocaust.

He touched many lives, both professionally and personally.

Robert is survived by his sister Ingeborg Ruth Manber of San Francisco, and predeceased by his brother Dr. Alfred Richter of Cologne, Germany, and brother-in-law Irving Manber. He is survived by sister-in-law Rosemarie Richter, and nephews and nieces Mark Daniel Manber, Dr. Helen Sabina Manber (Bradley Solomon), Claus-Jorg Richter (Maria Richter), and Christiane John (Thorsten John). Robert was a “Big Brother” to Yehudah Richter, Aron Ross, and Jacob Zarabi. May his memory be a blessing.

Marie Talia Avery

November 26, 1961–July 19, 2020

After valiantly battling an aggressive type of lung cancer for two years, Marie Talia Avery died peacefully at the Mission House Hospice in Redwood City on July 19, 2020.

Marie Talia Avery
Marie Talia Avery

Marie was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1961 and grew up in Barrington, Illinois. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, with a degree in Psychology.

In her early years Marie enjoyed hiking with friends, golf and playing tennis.

Marie always had a great love, respect and interest in other people of nationalities and different cultures. Her ability to negotiate dovetailed into a successful entrepreneurial venture, which was further enhanced by her charming and engaging personality.

Marie continued to grow and find success through her early career in sales and later in the medical research and pharmaceutical companies she so loved.

Marie had a great curiosity and love of medicine. She was an administrator at Northwestern Medical School where she worked with research fellows. In 2004, Marie moved to San Francisco to accept a position as Senior Administrator at UCSF working with research fellows. Marie later accepted a position at Genentech, Inc., a Biotechnology Company. After many successful years, she moved to Abbvie, Inc., a Biopharmaceutical Company.

Wherever Marie worked she was loved and respected for her hard work, diligence and devotion to both the company and those she worked with. Marie developed lifelong friendships with her work colleagues and received many awards and accolades.

Marie converted to Judaism in 2013 at Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills. She had lived on a kibbutz in her 20s and this instilled her interest in Israel and Judaism. She instantly became very active at Beth Am in their Home and Hope, Torah Study, voter registration and Yad L’Yad programs and soon made many lasting friendships. She studied Hebrew and enjoyed every Shabbat and Jewish holiday.

Marie was one of the most caring, giving, generous and fiercely loyal people you could ever meet. With a loving heart and spirit that will leave indelible memories in the lives and hearts of all she touched, she had the charming ability to be able to laugh at herself. Marie was loved by all who knew her. She never met a person she did not like and there was never a person who did not like her. There are so many people who consider her a very dear friend She was always looking after her friends, sisters, niece and nephews.

We will miss her infectious, beautiful smile and her sweet, thoughtful and kind personality.

Marie is survived by her two sisters, Pamela Avery Goolden and Susan Marie Avery, and her niece and nephews: Christopher James Goolden, Sarah Grace Goolden, Gerald Arthur Hoselton and Eric Avery Hoselton.

Marie is preceded in death by her loving nephew Joseph Lawrence Goolden, and her parents Gerald Avery (Father), Joanne Prio Avery (Mother) and Linda Rutledge Avery (Step Mother).

Donations in Marie’s memory may be made to Congregation Beth Am, betham.org, Home & Hope homeandhope.net, and Mission House Hospice, missionhospice.org.