July 7, 2021

Obituaries 7/7/2021

Gregory Burnham

Gregory Gerard Burnham, beloved son, brother, husband, father, grandfather, uncle, and friend, passed away on Saturday, June 26, 2021, at the age of 74, following a cardiac incident the prior Wednesday.

Greg was born in Flint, Michigan on May 27, 1947, the eldest child of Eleanor and Robert Burnham, and raised in Jackson Heights, New York, with brothers Geoffrey, Robert, Kevin, and sister Victoria. Exceedingly bright and an excellent student, Greg attended and graduated from St. Joan of Arc School in Queens, Regis High School in Manhattan, Fordham University (BS, Mathematics) in the Bronx, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in Mathematics from Northwestern University. Greg excelled academically, and his curiosity and lifelong interest in learning were an inspiration.

Greg met the love of his life, Leland Jacobs, of Larchmont, NY, while still in high school. They married in 1969, and raised three devoted children, Snowden Anne Zastrow, Kevin Burnham, and Rory Pickett.

Greg worked for Bristol Myers Squibb from 1978 to 1998. The family lived in Evanston IL, Fayetteville NY, Hamden CT, and finally Princeton, NJ. Always enthusiastic, approachable, and generous, Greg made dear and lasting friends in each of the towns he lived.

In 1998 Greg joined the Port Authority of NY & NJ as its Chief Information Officer, and oversaw the modernization and implementation of a number of new initiatives and strategies, including those related to EZ Pass and other IT systems.

Greg was rightfully proud of his efforts after 9/11, helping to restore PATH service, payrolls, and other Port Authority functions in the harrowing and sorrowful wake of that day. His proudest accomplishment was that he managed to deliver each employee their weekly pay on time, ensuring them financial stability during an unprecedented tragedy. These accomplishments were cited by the Port Authority in a 2006 special citation honoring both his extraordinary efforts over the post 9/11 period and his longstanding excellence and distinguished service.

Both from large families, Greg and Lee’s primary focus and joy in life were their children, and more recently grandchildren who came to call their beloved grandfather “Chief.” Greg and his grandchildren delighted in each other. He shared with them his curiosity about the world including astronomy, music, wildlife, mathematics, sports, chess, baking, Road Runner, and countless other amusements.

Greg was an avid learner and prolific reader, and his insatiable curiosity and enthusiasm about countless subjects made him a wonderful companion and conversationalist. He was known as Bob Dylan’s greatest fan. Always fit and active, Greg enjoyed all outdoor activities, especially running, hiking, and biking. He felt at home in the mountains.

Greg’s company was a joy to all those fortunate enough to have known him.

Greg is survived by his wife Leland Burnham, of Princeton, NJ; by daughter Snowden, and Brad Zastrow, grandchildren Madeline Fink, Maxwell Fink, and Kane Zastrow, of Libertyville, IL; by son Kevin Burnham, and Anousha Shahsavari, grandchildren Keon and Neelu Burnham, of Austin, TX; and by daughter Rory, and Robert Pickett, grandchildren Charlotte and Hazel Pickett, of Princeton, NJ. He is also survived by his sister, Victoria Andrews, of Levittown, NY.

Greg will be sorrowfully missed as well by friends, countless nieces and nephews, in-laws, and relatives too plentiful to count. As one of his brothers-in-law lamented, “We’re down a good man.”

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Doctors Without Borders or Homefront Central New Jersey.

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Thomas Joseph Thornton Jr.

Thomas Joseph Thornton Jr., loving husband to Mary Ellen, dedicated father to T.J. (Amanda) and Ryan, grandfather to Alice Marie and Sam Thomas Thornton, passed away peacefully with family at home in Atlantis, FL, on June 20th, 2021 from complications from Parkinson’s. In a beautifully poetic last gesture, it happened to be Father’s Day.

Tom was born in Brooklyn, New York, on March 31st, 1946 with his parents Catherine and Thomas Thornton, his brother Bobby, and is survived by his sister Christine. Raised in Manhasset, NY, where he attended St. Mary’s High School, he proceeded to complete his education at The University of Notre Dame and then went on to receive his MBA at LIU. A tried and true fan of all things Notre Dame, his enthusiasm for his alma mater was unwavering.

He served as a Commissioner in Manalapan, Florida, for ten years and weaved his way through a fascinating professional career. He started at WR Grace as Peter Grace’s assistant, then advanced to mergers and acquisitions. Next he became CEO of Orchard Supply Hardware in California, followed by CEO jobs at home center Mr. Goodbuys, and gourmet food pioneer Dean and Deluca in New York City. Thomas then did consulting work for Campbell’s Soup, Fouchon, Lindt Chocolate, Juniors Cheesecake, and Kluge Vineyards, among others. He completed his career as CEO of Carmine’s, Palm Beach Gardens. While busy growing these companies, he also took an interest in new products, often coming home with hardware gadgets and then, after switching industries, delicious foods — he was much more partial to the latter. Great stories were often more plentiful than the perishables; Soho, NYC, in the 90s was a different place than it is today, and his accounts of the store, his colleagues, and the neighborhood made for lively family dinners, of which he missed few. Tom worked hard to provide a lovely upbringing for his two sons in Princeton, New Jersey, and for that they are forever grateful.

He met his wife, Mary, in Manhasset and they were married in 1972. Mary was everything to him and he liked to say that he was the luckiest guy in the world to have her as his wife. Well, he was, because she is an absolute treasure, caring for him with great love until the very end and still somehow finding time for work, hobbies, and grandkids.

The family suggests memorial contributions be made to The Parkinson’s Foundation of Palm Beach County, 200 SE 1st Street, Suite 800, Miami, Florida, 33131 or online at parkinson.org. For more information, you can call them at (561) 206-3156

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Quattlebaum Funeral Home, (561) 833-4061.

A Memorial Mass will be held at St. Edward Catholic Church, 144 North County Road, Palm Beach, FL 33480 on July 16th at 11 a.m.

“Sheila said she loved me, she said she’d never leave me, true love will never die.”

—Tommy Roe

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Rabbi David Wolf Silverman

David Wolf Silverman, rabbi, scholar, and educator, died peacefully at his home in Princeton on July 4th, 2021. He was 94.

Born in Chicago in 1926, Rabbi Silverman received his B.A. from the University of Chicago, his Masters of Rabbinical Ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, and his PhD in philosophy from Columbia University. He served as Chaplin at Fort Lewis, Washington, during the Korean War.

Silverman was rabbi of the Conservative Synagogue of Riverdale, Temple Beth Zion-Beth Israel in Philadelphia, and Temple Israel of Deal, NJ.

Rabbi Silverman taught medieval and modern Jewish Philosophy for many years at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and was Principal of the Prozdor High School program there. He served as President of Spertus College of Judaica. Before his retirement, Silverman was adjunct professor of philosophy at  Monmouth University.

Since his retirement from the rabbinate, Rabbi Silverman was an active member and sought after teacher of Jewish philosophy, ethics, and bioethics at The Jewish Center and led High Holy Day services there. He also served for many years as Chaplin at the Princeton Hospital and The Penn Medicine Princeton Health Center.

Loving husband of 70 years to Tziona (Zion) Silverman, Rabbi Silverman was father to Shira (deceased), Debora, Eve, and Ethan Silverman, and father-in-law to Jeffrey Prager, Alan Kingsberg, and Irene Tobey. He leaves seven grandchildren, Daniel, Jesse, Julia, Noah, Alex, Theodore, and Raphael and one great-grandchild, Abigail.

Funeral services will be held Wednesday, July 7th at 12 noon at The Jewish Center, 435 Nassau Street, Princeton followed by burial at Princeton Cemetery. Face masks are required for all those attending the service in the synagogue. Evening Shiva will be held at the Silverman residence on Wednesday, July 7th and Thursday, July 8th.

Contributions in Rabbi Silverman’s honor may be sent to The Jewish Center, Mazon, and the adult education program of the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.

To send condolences to the family please visit Rabbi Silverman’s obituary page at OrlandsMemorialChapel.com.

May his memory be a blessing.

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Immanuel Lichtenstein

Immanuel Lichtenstein, age 99, died peacefully on June 12, 2021, surrounded by his family.

Immanuel, also known to friends and family as “Im,” “Immey,” “Manny,” and “Mike,” trained as a metallurgical engineer at the School of Engineering at Columbia University and at the Stevens Institute. His career and interests were far ranging — from corporate work for Avco Corporation and Phelps Dodge Corporation in California, gold and silver mining in Nevada and Idaho (as the founder and president of Agricola Metals, Inc.), gum arabic planting in Chad, and inventing and patenting “Laminite,” a treatment for corrugated cardboard that made it “rat-proof and fire resistant” — to memorizing and easily reciting the works of A.E. Housman, George Bernard Shaw, John Keats, and Shakespeare.

Immanuel, a veteran of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, helped to build airfields in the Arctic and to rebuild airfields in Germany after WWII. Known for his remarkable zest for life and adventure, Immanuel loved to ski, hike, and sail into his late 80s and 90s and continued to head Agricola Metals until his death.

Immanuel was the elder son of Rabbi Morris and Tehilla Lichtenstein who founded The Society of Jewish Science, a reform branch of Judaism, the year of Immanuel’s birth in 1922. Though not an observant member of Jewish Science, many believed that Immanuel embodied the Jewish Science philosophy of positive thinking in his practice of embracing life’s challenges with curiosity and enthusiasm. Indeed, in the final week of his life, Immanuel told his family that he wanted all to know that “we are all one; we love one another; there is nothing to fear about dying.”

Immanuel is survived by his wife of 67 years, Nancy Rabi Lichtenstein; his daughters, Alice Rabi Lichtenstein (James Bercovitz) and Elizabeth Torak (Thomas); his two granddaughters, Iris and Sarah Bercovitz, and his beloved younger brother, Michael (Peggy). He was predeceased by his son, Peter Morris Lichtenstein.

The family would like to acknowledge the enormous number of friends and relatives who shared in Immanuel’s joy of being.

Donations in Immanuel’s name can be made to The Society of Jewish Science.

His family has entrusted his care to the Johnston & Stanimer Funeral Home in Morris. For online expressions of sympathy to his family, please visit www.JohnstonFH.com.

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Eric D. Weitz

Eric David Weitz, PhD, passed away Thursday, July 1 at his home in Princeton, NJ, surrounded by his family at the age of 68.

A distinguished professor of Modern European History at City College of New York, he was a frequent lecturer in public and academic settings on the history of human rights, the Holocaust, the Armenian Genocide, and the genocide of the Herero and Nama of Namibia. His book Weimar Germany was named an “Editor’s Choice” by The New York Times Book Review.

He was born in New York City on June 15, 1953 to Charles and Shirley Weitz, the children of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. The youngest of three brothers who remained close throughout his life, he grew up in a small home in Bayside, Queens. His father, a CPA, worked long hours while his mother took care of the family. The Bayside Jewish Center was central in their lives both socially and religiously.

The brothers attended Campy Hurley, near Woodstock, NY, and it became an important part of Eric’s formative years. There he and his brothers learned about civil rights and peace, informed also by left-wing songwriters who performed there. Eric’s future academic work would continue to be rooted in the values he learned at camp and at the United Community Center in East New York, Brooklyn.

Eric married Carol Hunt Weitz in 1974 and the couple had two sons, Lev and Ben. He and Carol were married for 34 years with many happy years together.

As a young man in the 1970s and 80s Eric worked as a cook and a baker, sometimes while writing his dissertation, uncertain that he would land an academic position. He continued to enjoy cooking and baking throughout his life. He went on to a distinguished career as a professor of Modern European History first at St. Olaf College, then the University of Minnesota, and most recently at City College and the Graduate Center, City University of New York. From 2012 to 2016 he served as Dean of Humanities and the Arts at City College.

His many written works, all published by Princeton University Press, include A World Divided: The Global Struggle for Human Rights in the Age of Nation-States (2019), Weimar Germany: Promise and Tragedy (2007); A Century of Genocide: Utopias of Race and Nation (2003), and Creating German Communism, 1890-1990: From Popular Protests to Socialist State (1997). In 2006 he initiated a book series, also published by the Press, Human Rights and Crimes against Humanity.

In 2011, Eric married Brigitta van Rheinberg, his longtime publishing editor. He enjoyed getting to know her son Sebastian and her former husband Bob, who became good friends. Eric and Brigitta traveled more in the past 10 years than many people do in a lifetime. Highlights include Cuba, Machu Pichu, Kenya, South Africa, China, Japan, and a wonderful trip to Switzerland with the entire extended family. There were also many trips to Germany and the couple spent much time in Aachen, where Eric came to know and cherish Brigitta’s family and friends, and in Berlin with their dear friend Hanna Schissler.

Eric is survived by his wife Brigitta van Rheinberg; his sons Benjamin and Lev Weitz (Doha Mekki); his granddaughter Dahlia; his step-son Sebastian Zahler; his brothers Mark Weitz (Carol Weitz) and Alan Weitz (Linda Cohen); and his niece Grace.

A private funeral service will be held at Princeton Cemetery.

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Ellen Sharfstein Avins

Ellen Sharfstein Avins, age 104, of Skillman, NJ, died on June 29 at Penn Medicine Princeton Medical Center after a brief illness.

A native New Yorker, she was the oldest of the four children of Hyman Sharfstein and Sarah Stern Sharfstein. She excelled at Curtis High School on Staten Island and went on to Hunter College, graduating in 1937 with a major in statistics and election to Phi Beta Kappa.

Her career as a teacher of business studies at Curtis, New Dorp, and Tottenville high schools on Staten Island gave her great pleasure. After getting a Master’s in Counseling at Rutgers she became a career counselor, mentoring Tottenville students (some of whom had never been to Manhattan) and preparing them to succeed in the workplace. In the early years of retirement she used those skills as co-director of The Professional Roster in Princeton (where she and her family had moved in 1964).

She was married for 50 years to Jack Avins, a research engineer at RCA. With him she shared enthusiasm for family travel adventures and closeness to their siblings and extended families. In 2003 she moved to Stonebridge at Montgomery. In the past 10 years, she was fortunate to live with her talented and devoted companion, Winnie Njero.

Ellen is survived by her children Laurence Avins (Mary Ellen Biebel) and Carol Avins (Rayman Solomon); grandchildren Sara Avins Brown, Jenni Avins, Sara Voegtline, Matt Biebel, Claire Avins Solomon Nisen, and Jess Avins Solomon; as well as great-grandchildren Bella, Maizie, Jack, Lua, and Miriam.

Funeral services were held Tuesday, July 6 at The Jewish Center of Princeton. Burial was at The United Hebrew Cemetery, Staten Island, NY.

To send condolences to the family please visit Ellen’s obituary page at OrlandsMemorialChapel.com.