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Death announcements for the week of Aug. 4, 2023

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

David Altman

February 13, 1920–July 10, 2023

David Altman
David Altman

Dr. David Altman passed away on July 10, 2023 at the age of 103. He died peacefully of natural causes in his home of 61 years in Menlo Park, California.

Dave will be remembered as both an extraordinarily smart yet inordinately humble man who was kind and gentle with a sly humor and love for music. His easygoing and curious nature contributed to his longevity as he embraced life with warmth, wit and wonder. His philosophical approach led to lasting personal relationships and lofty contributions to science that would permanently alter the direction of aerospace and rocketry.

Dave was born to Hyman and Frieda Altman on February 13, 1920 in Paterson, New Jersey. By age 23, he had earned two chemistry degrees: a B.S. from Cornell University and a Ph.D. from UC Berkeley. It was at Berkeley where he met his beloved wife Beverly (Adlis) Altman, who passed away in 2015 after 68 years of marriage. Dave is also preceded in death by his two older sisters, Rose Patick and Beatrice Rubin. He is survived by his three children – Jody, Jan and Rick Altman – daughter-in-law Becky Altman, grandchildren Erica and Jamie Altman, and seven nieces and nephews.

Professionally, Dave is best known for his pioneering work in the development of solid fuel to propel rockets into orbit. This became instrumental to the U.S. Air Force and NASA and contributed to the Apollo space program across multiple decades, including the moon landing. This work earned him NASA’s Apollo Achievement Award in 1969. In addition to his advancements with rocket propulsion, Dave worked with Robert Oppenheimer on the Manhattan Project and helped investigate the cause of the Challenger Shuttle explosion. In 2020, Dave was inducted into the Schriever Wall of Honor, which recognizes early innovators who made tremendous contributions to the U.S. space program.

Sports were a significant part of Dave’s life as he played both tennis and golf into his 90s – he turned down a promotion that would have taken him to the East Coast so he could continue playing tennis year-round. Dave also had a strong Jewish identity and was an active member of Congregation Beth Jacob in Redwood City, California, for 60 years.

Dave’s final years — especially after Beverly passed — were bolstered by his devoted care staff led by Nancy Huie, who with the help of her family has supported the Altmans since 2011.

Dave was spirited, joyful and healthy until the end, filling his days with books, music, sun-basking, regular visits with friends and family, and daily cocktails during happy hour.

Dave was buried at Hills of Eternity Memorial Park in Colma, California, next to Beverly. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Population Connection, a cause about which Dave was passionate, or Congregation Beth Jacob.

Jerome “Jerry” Behar

Jerome “Jerry” Behar
Jerome “Jerry” Behar

Jerome “Jerry” Behar passed away Saturday, July 15, 2023 in Palo Alto, CA. He is survived by his wife Leslie Fried Behar; sons Joseph (fiancée Justine), Jacob “JB”, and Daniel; his mother Shirley Sarah Chicorel Behar; siblings Dr. Marc (Jeff), Ricky (TG), Lisa (Richie) Behar Greenberg, and David (Doris) Robinson. He was uncle to Nissim and Lily Behar, and Michael and Peter Ehrman. Jerry was the son of the late Marcel Nissim Behar z”l.

He is cherished by a tremendous number of loving extended family members, business associates, lifelong friends, co-workers, Michigan State University and Stanford alumni, and caring people whose lives he had touched.

Jerry grew up in the Sephardic Community of Detroit. His family are long-time members of Congregation Beth Am in Los Altos Hills, CA.

Receiving a diagnosis in 2016 of Leiomyosarcoma, a rare cancer, Jerry made the years that followed among the best of his life. He liked to say he was an “N-of-1”; he beat the odds of his prognosis for many years.

Jerry graduated from Michigan State University in 1979. He received his MBA from Stanford in 1988, and then co-founded International Risk Control. He continued his career in finance at a number of Bay Area companies, developing relationships with colleagues that would last a lifetime. In 1997 he moved with his family to Ames, Iowa to join Engineering Animation, Inc. as their CFO. The family returned to Los Altos and in 2002 he founded Financial Intelligence. In the midst of the 2008 economic downturn, he founded Webfilings which became Workiva. Jerry founded Grand River Solutions in 2018, and served on the boards of numerous companies, notably Visby Medical and Grand River Solutions. He was honored as the 2018 MSU College of Business Alumnus of the Year and in 2022, delivered an inspiring commencement speech to graduates of the MSU Broad College of Business.

Jerry was brilliant, generous, warm, funny, humble, and empathetic. Though he was a focused entrepreneur who worked tirelessly, he balanced his time with meaningful experiences with family and friends. Jerry had a deep love for his wife Leslie, and together they partnered to raise three amazing sons, who he was incredibly proud of. The family enjoyed game nights, theater vacations, trips to Hawaii, Tahoe, National Parks and so much more.

The day before he passed away, Jerry noted some things he wanted to be remembered for: I worked hard; Creative (for an accountant); Tried to be a good father; Loved family; Had deep friendships; Felt well-loved and supported; I did not seek fame or celebrity; Aspired to be a good and helpful friend and mentor.

Jerry lived his life performing mitzvot and acts of kindness. Most recently, he contributed to significant philanthropic endeavors including cancer research, education, homelessness, food insecurity, Jewish causes and institutional ethics. Jerry and Leslie are the founding donors to the newly commissioned Center for Ethical and Socially Responsible Leadership at MSU. The world has truly lost one of its most wonderful human beings.

Donations in Jerry Behar’s memory can be made to his favorite charitable organizations. They can be found at beh.ar/donations or please make a donation to the charity of your choice.

Channa Orner

Channa Orner
Channa Orner

Channa Orner passed away on June 19, 2023 at the age of 98. She was born in Brooklyn, New York and grew up during the Depression with her parents and five siblings. Upon graduating high school, she began working as a secretary, then bookkeeper, contributing most of her salary to her family. Having always wanted to go to college, she attended courses at City College and Brooklyn College in her 20s and 30s, and San Francisco State University in her 50s and 60s.

Channa loved folk dancing, met her husband, David, at a folk dance, and steadily built a career as an international folk dance teacher, specializing in Greek and Israeli dancing. She taught at Jewish community centers, senior and recreational centers, synagogues, summer camps and resorts, and led dancing at bar mitzvahs and other events. In her mid-50s, upon moving to California with her husband and daughter, Aviva, she resumed work as a bookkeeper.

Channa was an avid reader, utilizing the S.F. Public Library, Jewish Community Library and SFJCC bookmobile. She was unfazed by 700-page books and embraced them as she did shorter ones, all of which graced her cocktail table or the armrest of her couch until replaced weeks later by newly borrowed books. She also loved movies, museums, theater, opera, concerts, lectures and travel. In her travels, one of the first places of interest to her would be to visit a local synagogue.

Channa volunteered for various organizations including the Jewish Coalition for Literacy, where she tutored reading to elementary school students; she read to children in the child care program at S.F. State; did office work for the S.F. AIDS Foundation; and in her early 60s, on a three-week program with Volunteers for Israel, performed civilian work on a military base.

In her early 80s, Channa became a volunteer co-teacher of folk and line dancing for the S.F. Dance Circle, teaching until age 95. Her students viewed Channa as an inspiration, and they were an invaluable part of her life, especially when she could no longer dance or teach.

Channa had great compassion for those who struggled in life. For decades, until she was 95, she’d make egg salad sandwiches, take two forms of public transit to the Civic Center, and give sandwiches, fruit, sweets and clothing to homeless people. She contributed to many charities, even when she could afford less than in the past, sometimes writing a note of explanation/apology accompanying her donation.

Channa was outgoing, optimistic, empathic, strong, independent, humorous, disciplined, intelligent, honest and very humble.

Channa was an exceptionally loving, selfless, devoted Mother, and is survived by her daughter, Aviva, who admired, adored and cherished her beyond measure. She is also survived by her loving sister-in-law, Carol, and her nieces, nephews and their spouses who loved her and were deeply loved by her as well.

Channa’s funeral was held on June 22 at Home of Peace in Colma. Contributions in her memory can be made to Congregation Beth Sholom, where she was a longtime member, or to the charity of your choice.

Sinai Memorial
(415) 921-3636

Thomas H. Ostwald

April 18, 1929–July 7, 2023

Thomas Ostwald
Thomas H. Ostwald

Thomas H. Ostwald, 94, died peacefully on July 7, 2023, in Carmichael, CA. He was born on April 18, 1929 in Berlin Germany, the son of Dr. Eugene and Kathe Ostwald.

Tom was raised in San Francisco, graduated Lowell High School and attended University of California class of 1951 and was a member of Pi Lambda Phi fraternity. He founded Peninsula Fashions, Inc. a chain of women’s apparel stores.

In addition to his parents, he was predeceased by his wife Joan Stern Ostwald and by his brother, Dr. Peter Ostwald.

Tom is survived by his children Mitchell (Teri), Karen, Gregory (Deborah) and stepdaughter Lisa (Terry), seven grandchildren and two great-grandsons.

After his retirement in 1981, he moved to Rancho Mirage and volunteered at the following enterprises: the Coachella chapter of SCORE; mediator for Riverside County Superior Court; executive board member for Jewish Family Services of Palm Springs; and the Rancho Mirage Historical Preservation Commission.

A private service was held in Rancho Mirage. Those who wish to remember Tom may contribute to Jewish Family Services of Palm Springs in his memory.

Peter Emil Williams

Peter Emil Williams
Peter Emil Williams

On July 22, 2023, Peter Emil Williams, Jr. passed away surrounded by family; the love of his life of 62 years, Lynne, and his three sons: Peter (Lori), Steven and David.

Born in San Francisco in 1939 to Peter and Nadine Williams, he was the eldest brother to Robert and Donald. An alumnus of Lowell and UC Berkeley and a brother of Pi Lambda Phi fraternity, Peter went on to succeed in business and real estate. Carrying on the legacy of his grandfather, David Schneider, Peter took over and expanded three successful uniform stores across the Bay Area (The HUB Schneider’s). He was a proud board member of Hebrew Free Loan and Sinai Memorial Chapel.

A formidable athlete once holding city track records, he later enjoyed racquetball and golf, finding camaraderie and joy on the greens, especially during his time as a member of Lake Merced Golf Club and Indian Ridge Country Club in Palm Desert.

Peter and Lynne embarked on numerous globetrotting journeys, exploring new lands and embracing different cultures, yet no trip was more special than annual family trips to Lake Tahoe. Yet, amid his many travels, he found tranquility in his own backyard, meticulously tending to his garden, where he nurtured the most colossal lemons, orchids and roses ever seen, a testament to his green thumb.

Devoted family man, Peter is survived by his loving wife Lynne, his beloved sons Peter (Lori), Steven and David, and his grandchildren Katelyn (Ryan), Ashley, Ben, Brad, Jordyn and Jack.

In his honor, let us raise a glass of ice-cold vodka on the rocks, topped with a twist of lemon. Though the lemons we use will never be as big as the ones he grew (and he would be the first to remind us of this).

In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests that donations be made to Hebrew Free Loan.