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

Death announcements for the week of Feb. 9, 2024

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


Ilse Bloch

1924-2024

Ilse Bloch
Ilse Bloch

Ilse Bloch ended her journey two months shy of 100 years. She was a loving caregiver to her family and friends, with her exceptional kindness, warmth and generosity.

Born in 1924 in Breslau, Germany, she was one of the last surviving Shanghai refugees from Nazi Germany. In 1939, she and her parents escaped to Shanghai. She survived the Shanghai Ghetto and in 1945 married the love of her life, Hans Bloch. They were able to leave Shanghai after the war and arrived in San Francisco in 1947.

Their son Rene’ was born in Denver and their daughter Evelyn was born in San Francisco. Ilse’s mother Lucie lived with the family for 32 years.

She will never be forgotten, and we will all carry her extraordinary goodness in our hearts forever.

The family requests donations to your favorite charity.

Sinai Memorial
(415) 921-3636


Arthur Blaustein

Arthur Blaustein
Arthur Blaustein

Arthur Blaustein, UC Berkeley professor and author, and a civil rights activist for over 70 years, passed away peacefully at home in November with his beloved life partner, Rosemary Shahan, by his side. The cause was complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 90.

From an early age, Arthur epitomized what civil rights icon John Lewis described as someone who made “good trouble.”

He participated in the 1963 March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech. In 1965, facing down threats of physical violence in the wake of Bloody Sunday, Arthur marched from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in support of voting rights for all Americans.

Arthur served for nearly two years in the U.S. Army as an education and information expert, distilling news for military bases throughout Europe. He later became co-editor of the War Peace Report, calling for an end to the war in Vietnam.

A critical turning point came while he was earning a Master’s Degree from Columbia Law School. He took a class from anthropologist Margaret Mead. He asked her if he should pursue a Ph.D., and she advised him that he had “enough head learning. It’s time for heart learning.”

Following his heart, Arthur was among the first to serve in Volunteers in Service to America (VISTA), which sent young volunteer organizers to assist low-income communities in efforts to overcome poverty. VISTA later became part of AmeriCorps. Arthur helped expand the program and remained active as an adviser to the UC Berkeley AmeriCorps into his 80s.

From 1969 to 1984, Arthur co-directed, with Jack Anderson, the National Economic Development and Law Center based at UC Berkeley. The center provided legal services and legal support for anti-poverty programs in rural and urban areas across the U.S., including Native American tribal lands. While at the center, Arthur also fought Nixon administration attempts to end U.S. President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty.

Arthur played a leading role in creating Community Development Corporations. These nonprofit organizations were started as part of the War on Poverty to create jobs, housing and economic opportunity in low-income communities across the nation.

Arthur continued his fight against poverty under President Jimmy Carter, who appointed him to serve as chair of the National Advisory Council on Economic Opportunity.

Arthur got his first taste of political campaigning while a student at Bard College, volunteering to drive Eleanor Roosevelt as she campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson in 1956. He went on to volunteer in every presidential campaign until 2020.

As an Adjunct Professor at the University of California at Berkeley for 32 years, Arthur taught Community and Economic Development, Politics, and Public Policy.

He encouraged his students to perform community service instead of taking exams. This resulted in life-changing experiences for his students and led many to enter careers in public service.

With students clamoring to take his courses, Arthur ensured that all his classes included low-income students — some who were the first in their families to enter college — who were working their way through school.

Arthur was a prolific writer. His books include “Democracy Is Not a Spectator Sport,” “The American Promise,” “Man Against Poverty” (co-edited with Roger Woock), “Make a Difference,” and “The Star-Spangled Hustle,” co-authored with Geoffrey P. Faux. He was a contributor to MoveOn’s 50 Ways to Love Your Country.

His articles and op-eds were published in the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Harper’s and other publications. Many were syndicated nationwide.

Arthur was a fierce defender of democratic values. In “The Star-Spangled Hustle,” he was deeply critical of Nixon’s devastating policies. As a result, he was put on Nixon’s enemies list and targeted by the FBI. He received antisemitic death threats and was advised by law enforcement officials to move out of his home for his own protection. Instead of discouraging him, that experience deepened his resolve to strengthen and preserve American democracy.

President Bill Clinton appointed Arthur to the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities, where Arthur advocated for socially engaged writing and art. He also worked on the public grants committee for museums, libraries, universities, community-based art programs, and public TV and radio.

Throughout his life, Arthur actively promoted the work of diverse authors. For years, he compiled widely published annual lists of 25, 50 or 100 novels he recommended that focused on social engagement.

He was co-founder, with author Barbara Kingsolver and literary agent Frances Goldin, of the Bellwether Prize. Now the PEN/Bellwether prize, it provides $25,000 every two years to a first-time author of a novel that promotes social justice.

Arthur was born in Manhattan, the only child of Morris and Esther Blaustein. His podiatrist father gave him a deep appreciation for American democracy and a love of literature, drama, humor, and sports, especially baseball. Arthur became a lifelong fan of the New York (later San Francisco) Giants. One of his favorite moments, savored the rest of his life, was seeing Willie Mays’ dazzling 1954 play, “The Catch.”

Arthur himself was a gifted athlete. For decades, he swam a mile every day at the Claremont Hotel lap pool, outdoors, in all weather. He also pitched for the writers’ team at annual Writers-Artists softball games in East Hampton, New York, to benefit local charities.

Despite battling Parkinson’s disease, which eventually robbed him of his mobility, Arthur never lost his keen wit and sense of humor.

He is survived by his life partner, Rosemary Shahan, cousins Jim, Melissa and Ben Bloom, close friend Judy MacLean, “like family” neighbors Deborah Robison and Dennis Cohen, and many colleagues, writers, neighbors, and friends with whom he discussed politics, literature, and life. He was also “Uncle Arthur” to Stefan Cohen and Elena Holsman. He is, and will be, sorely missed.

A remembrance of Arthur’s life will be held via Zoom at a later date. If you would like to be invited to participate, please contact [email protected].

Arthur often quoted Adlai Stevenson’s words on the death of Eleanor Roosevelt: “She would rather light candles than curse the darkness.” Those words apply equally to Arthur. He might occasionally feel like cursing the darkness, but he always lit candles.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to President Joe Biden’s re-election campaign, to help preserve American democracy; or to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, which distributes free books to preschool children and helps promote a love of reading.


Fred Frank Cohn

Jan. 16, 1933–Dec. 4, 2023

Fred Frank Cohn
Fred Frank Cohn

Fred Frank Cohn passed away peacefully on Dec. 4, 2023, from dementia. Fred was born Fery Frank Slotowski on Jan. 16, 1933, to Walter and Ibolyka (Feher) Slotowski in Goerlitz, Germany. He was the middle child between older brother Tibor and younger sister Ilonka. In 1939, the family knew they needed to flee Germany. Older brother Tibor was sent on the Kindertransport to England, where he still lives today. Fred and his parents and sister fled to Shanghai. Fred’s parents both died in Shanghai from typhus when Fred was 7 years old, leaving himself and his baby sister alone. Fred and Ilonka were found by happenstance by a German Jewish couple, Siegfried and Nelly Cohn, who took over seeing that the two children were taken care of. Fred was eventually adopted by the Cohns, and Ilonka was adopted by a Hungarian doctor and his wife.

Fred and his adoptive parents left Shanghai in 1949 to emigrate to the United States, and they made their home in San Francisco. Fred attended UC Berkeley, almost graduating with a degree in electrical engineering. However, his real love and passion his whole life was music and especially piano, which led to his starting a high-end audio/video retail store in San Mateo in the mid-1950s, which lasted over 50 years (until Fred retired the business). Eventually the store added computer products for sale. Fred had an extremely keen ear and perfect pitch in music, and he played the piano by ear. In the 1970s, he also started a production studio alongside the retail store. He became known in the San Mateo Peninsula area for his recording studio, and recorded some well-known names in the music industry, and also lesser-known SF Bay Area music groups.

Fred was also known for being extremely intelligent, and he could always tackle anything he wanted to do with success.

Fred is survived by his wife of 32 years, Miriam (Onhouse) Perlson-Cohn; his daughter, Renee (Cohn) Hawk; his son, Gregg Cohn; his stepdaughter, Wendy (Perlson) Casey; sons-in law Mark Hawk and James Casey; step-granddaughter, Avery Casey; his brother, Tibor aka Tim and wife Joyce; his sister, Ilonka aka Ilona; and nieces Genise Edwards and Erica Kowalcky. Fred was predeceased by his first wife, Rosaline (Kurtzberg).

Burial was held at Skylawn Cemetery in San Mateo, and memorial services followed at Peninsula Temple Beth El. Fred’s family sends huge thanks and love to Fred’s caregivers at Pacific Care Home in San Mateo, and the Sutter Health hospice staff. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations can be made to Peninsula Temple Beth El, the Peninsula Humane Society, or Jewish Family and Children’s Services for the Holocaust Survivors Group (Café by the Bay).


Arlee Strellis Maier

May 31, 1930–Jan. 9, 2024

Arlee Strellis Maier
Arlee Strellis Maier

Lee Maier, a woman of many accomplishments, passed away at the age of 93 in Walnut Creek, California. Born in Chicago to Milton and Billie Strellis, she grew up as a citizen of the world. Her father was an engineer who worked for the city of Chicago designing many of the bridges crossing the Chicago River before joining the Navy at the onset of WWII.

As a youth, Lee attended boarding school in Palm Springs due to her struggles with asthma. Her family then joined her in California when her father was stationed in Long Beach during the war. Over the ensuing years the family then moved to New Orleans, Guam, Casablanca, and Livorna, Italy, before returning to the U.S.

Lee completed high school and enrolled at UC Berkeley, obtaining a degree in Education. It was at Berkeley that she met the man with whom she shared the next 60 years until his passing in 2012. After he graduated from UC Law (Boalt), the two were then sent to Germany as Paul, a Holocaust refugee, was stationed in Frankfurt working in postwar military intelligence while Lee taught school.

Upon returning to California, Paul and Lee worked and raised a family in the East Bay. Lee worked as a school teacher briefly and then returned to school, obtaining a master’s degree in Special Education at San Francisco State. She then worked at the Mt. Diablo Rehabilitation Center for several years, directing the educational and clinical service.

Lee returned to school once more, obtaining a Ph.D. in Special Education at UC Berkeley. For the next 26 years, Lee taught Special Ed in the Master’s program at SFSU. The last of those ten years she held the position as the Director of the Learning Disabilities program. After retirement Lee had a private practice in Educational Neuropsychology in Walnut Creek providing educational assessments and creating learning pathways for thousands of children with learning disabilities. It was a true source of satisfaction for her to see her former clients grow to become successful students and adults.

Lee led a busy volunteer life. She and Paul participated actively in the Bay Area Jewish community. Lee served for decades in Women’s American ORT (Organization for Rehabilitation through Training), acting on the board of directors and eventually serving as national chairperson of the USA ORT program.

Lee and Paul enjoyed a wonderful life together, enjoying travel, music, playing bridge, camping and spending time with the myriad of friends developed over a lifetime. Lee is survived by three sons (Jeffrey, Gadi and Steev), their wives (Christiane, Marlene and Nanette), seven grandchildren and one great-grandson.

She will be remembered for her forceful nature, most reflected by her ability to remember minute details of past events (and to recount them to anyone within earshot) as well as for her generosity, intelligence and true love of life.


Heinz Gewing

Oct. 10, 1932–Jan. 21, 2024

Heinz Gewing
Heinz Gewing

Heinz Gewing passed away at the age of 91 in Dublin, California, on Jan. 21, 2024. Born on Oct. 10, 1932, in Leoben, Austria, he spent his childhood in Shanghai, China, one of the only countries in the world that would accept Jewish refugees. Heinz and his family lived in a small apartment above his father’s store in an area known as the Shanghai Ghetto. It was not an easy life, but hard work, resilience and a sense of humor helped sustain them.

After arriving in San Francisco in 1948, Heinz attended Lowell High School, graduated from UC Berkeley, and received his master’s degree in educational counseling from Penn State. He and his late wife, Lisa Gewing, were married for over 50 happy years, raising their two daughters in Oakland before moving up the California coast.

Heinz started out as a teacher at Oakland High School. He later worked at the Job Corps, a program created during the Lyndon Johnson Administration as part of the War on Poverty. He ended his career as Superintendent of the Dublin Unified School District.

It was in Dublin that Heinz first met PTA president and parent volunteer Eileen Barr. A friendship developed that years later, after Lisa’s death, turned into something more. The couple spent 17 wonderful years together, sharing a passion for politics and social activism. Together they traveled the world, and at home welcomed a constant stream of visitors.

Heinz was a kind man, known for his generosity, wit, and common sense. A close friend once described him as the only person he knew who could turn a mountain into a molehill. How lucky we all were to have had him in our lives and how we will miss him.

Heinz is survived by his partner, Eileen Barr, daughters Jenny Andrus (Alex) and Dina Gewing (Tim); granddaughter Sasha Andrus and grandson Nick Andrus (Ashley); older brother Walter and twin brother Ehud, and his nieces and nephews.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributing to Hope Hospice (hopehospice.com) or to HIAS (hias.org), an organization that assisted Heinz’s family over 70 years ago and continues to support refugees around the world today.