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Death of Gert Thaler, 91, ends a San Diego Jewish era

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Staff Report

Gert Thaler

SAN DIEGO — An era for the San Diego Jewish community came to an end Saturday morning with the passing of  Gertrude (Gert) Shelley Thaler, who was pronounced dead of heart failure in the emergency room of Scripps Memorial Hospital.

Born to pioneer San Diegans, George and Anna Shelley, Thaler  was a graduate of San Diego public schools, and attended college in Los Angeles. She returned home in 1941 to become a legal secretary and continued in that capacity working for some of the San Diego’s leading attorneys and judges until her marriage in 1946 to the late Morton Thaler.

Funeral services will be conducted by Rabbi Scott Meltzer at 12 noon Tuesday, April 17, at Ohr Shalom Synagogue, Third and Laurel Streets, with burial following at El Camino Memorial Park.

Thaler was acknowledged as being the longest running columnist in San Diego, as well as the most widely read Jewish community columnist. Her column was entitled “Heart to Heart.” She began her career at the age of 13 as an assistant with Southwestern Jewish Press which became the “Heritage” until it ceased publication in 2003, after which she transferred to The San Diego Jewish Times until it, too, went out of business.

Among the many causes she championed, Thaler is credited with establishing the organization of the Jewish National Fund (Keren Keyemet) in San Diego  serving as its first president from 1974 to 1979. Her knowledge of people and places knew virtually no bounds, having enjoyed a successful professional life as a travel agent for 28 years.  She was owner of a major travel agency.

Following in the footsteps of her community activist mother, Thaler  served as president of the large San Diego chapter of Hadassah as well as a group president after that and ultimately as Southern Pacific Coast Regional vice president for the organization. She was one of the founders and served as president of Adat Ami Synagogue, now called Ohr Shalom Synagogue, as well as a founder of Beth Jacob Synagogue’s Sisterhood and its first president.  Very active in the affairs of the United Jewish Federation, she was one of the founders of the UJF Community Relations Council and served on committees, including The Chairman’s Circle of The Anti-Defamation League (ADL).

In the general community, by appointment of the Mayor of San Diego, she served her city for 12 years on the International Affairs Board and in a number of capacities in various community organizations. On the national scene, Thaler was a national convention chairperson for the Women’s Association of the Alcoholic Beverage Industry and internationally on the Board of the Tel Aviv Foundation for which she was presented with the rare award of  a key to that city.

A member of Ohr Shalom Synagogue, over the years, she was a member and supporter of a number of San Diego houses of worship, including Adat Yeshurun and Beth El Synagogues in La Jolla. She was a member of the board of the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center’s  Library Committee, active within The San Diego Jewish Book Fair and an underwriter of The San Diego Jewish Film Festival.

Actively involved as a strong supporter of the State of Israel, Thaler  visited the country 83 times up to 2006. It was in 2001 that she decided to devote 99 percent  of her volunteer efforts to the work of The Tel Aviv Foundation which exists under the patronage of that city’s Mayor, Ron Huldai.  In that capacity, she coordinated events and encouraged participation in the varied Foundation programs to bring about improvements in that city’s recreational, educational and arts programs, with emphasis on projects for families in need.

Having attained the age of 91 years in December, 2011, she continued her interest in opera, theatre and movie attendance as well as opening new doors to new chapters in her life.  She was a friend to presidents, mayors, governors, congressmen, generals and an extraordinarily avid people person.

Gert Thaler was married to Martin (Mort) Thaler for 51 years before his death in 1997 and continued to enjoy her San Diego life with her children, Linda (Harvey) Neiman of Rancho Santa Fe, and her son, Lawrence Thaler of Marina del Rey. She is also survived by her three grandchildren, Danny Neiman and wife Lauren  of La Jolla, Shelley Neiman of South Mission Beach, and Aaron Thaler of Los Angeles, along with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins all of whom are San Diego natives.

Thaler will be deeply missed by her many friends and family around the world. She touched so many people in so many places and was a loving grandmother, mother, sister, aunt, best friend, confidant, tour guide, party planner, martini connoisseur and on-line shopper.

27 Responses to “Death of Gert Thaler, 91, ends a San Diego Jewish era”

  1. admin says:

    From Daniel Brin, former editor Heritage newspapers of California:

    I’m sad to learn of Gert Thaler’s passing. Gert was a significant part of my life. It felt special working with a columnist who wrote for the same publication for 62 years. Now, that is rootedness!

    She was, above all, a good friend, someone who could be trusted for sound advice in dealing with the sometimes dysfunctional family called the Jewish community.

    We’ll miss you, Gert!

    • Pam Ferris says:

      Can you please advise as to the funeral arrangement?

      • admin says:

        The obituary has now been updated with the information that the funeral will be at 12 noon Tuesday, April 17, at Ohr Shalom Synagogue.

      • Linda Neiman says:

        Her funeral services will be on Tuesday, April 17th at Ohr Shalom, 2512 3rd Avenue (at Laurel Street) in San Diego, 92103, at noon. Burial will take place immediately after the service at El Camino Memorial Park in Sorrento Valley off Mira Mesa Blvd.
        We will be sitting shiva at our home (Harvey and Linda Neiman), 6325 La Valle Plateada, Rancho Santa Fe, CA 92067 from Tuesday after the funeral until Friday at noon and then Saturday night until Monday morning. We will have services on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday at 7:05 p.m. in our home.

        • Laurel Schwartz says:

          Dear Linda,

          Gert was one of the great ladies of San Diego. We knew her from Adat Ami/Ohr Shalom and from the Jewish Historical Society of San Diego. She gave the Society several scrapbooks from some of the organizations in which she actively took part. Gert knew everyone who was anyone and she gave of herself above and beyond the call of duty.
          She was gutsy, honest and sincere. Here at the JHSSD we’ll make sure her name is well-remembered by future generations. We have tried to send a card to your address, but it was returned. Is there some other address where you receive mail?
          With sincere condolences,
          Laurel Schwartz

  2. Jim Farley says:

    The poem, a Woman of Valor, comes from the Book of Proverbs:

    A woman of valor–seek her out,
    for she is to be valued above rubies.
    Her husband trusts her,
    and they cannot fail to prosper.
    All the days of her life
    she is good to him.
    She opens her hands to those in need
    and offers her help to the poor.
    Adorned with strength and dignity,
    she looks to the future with cheerful trust.
    Her speech is wise,
    and the law of kindness is on her lips.
    Her children rise up to call her blessed,
    her husband likewise praises her:
    ‘Many women have done well,
    but you surpass them all.’
    Charm is deceptive and beauty short­lived,
    but a woman loyal to God has truly earned praise. Give her honor for her work;
    her life proclaims her praise.

  3. Rabbi Wayne Dosick says:

    Gertie was one of the greats! Her life mirrored Jewish life in San Diego, and she was our chronicler. How she will be missed!

  4. Elaine Stern says:

    When I moved to San Diego in 1982, Gert became my mentor and dear close friend
    I spoke her her just last week and as always she said” honey, I’m fine…don’t worry”. She will be missed by all who knew her.

  5. Doris Jaffe says:

    Gert was one of my literary highlights of the week. Her human interest articles were entertaining. Years ago I purchased a bread-making machine as a birthday gift to my husband. A week later Gert wrote about her bargain bread machine that cost $350 PER SLICE. She had just purchased hers and used it for the first time. It was interesting reading about her shopping escapades at the SD County Fair. Gert was the travel agent for the Beth Jacob Mission Trip to Israel in June 1988. She surprised me and two fellow travelers by arranging for the three of us to fly from LA to SD on our return from Israel. Imagine getting off a 747 Jet and then being paged to go to a different terminal where we boarded a little “bird” – a 15 passenger plane. Gert always went the extra mile. May her neshama have an aliya in Gan Eden.

  6. Barbara & Sully Farfel says:

    “There Memories Illumine Our World’

    There are stars whose light reaches the earth only after they themselves have disintegrated. And there are individuals whose memory lights the world after they have passed from it. These lights shine in the darkest night and illumine for us the path….. (Hannah Semesh)

    Gert was one of these shining stars who illumined our world.

  7. admin says:

    Norene Schiff-Shenhav wrote: “Gert was a wonderful and loving lady…so sorry…”

  8. Leslie Weening says:

    Serving the Jewish community for 30 years as an employee of UJF, I had the pleasure of working with and getting to know Gert. She was a wonderful woman, who cared about others. Gert used to bring me stuffed cabbage when she was in a cooking mood and it was delicious. She was a wealth of information and will be missed not only by her family, but those whose lives she touched.

  9. Rachel Manelson says:

    Our deepest sympathy and condolences to Linda and the family on the passing away of a great lady and true friend and lover of Israel

    Rachel and Avichai Manelson, Herzlia, Israel

  10. Mayor Ron Huldai says:

    From Mayor Ron Huldai of Tel Aviv and Meggie Navon of the Tel Aviv Yaffo Foundation:

    GERT THALER: LOVE AT FIRST SIGHT
    Last Shabbat, our dearest friend Gert Thaler (Z”L) from San Diego, California passed away. Our
    first encounter with Gert Thaler was in the spring of 2002 at the San Diego airport whenwe— that is to say- Ron Huldai, the Mayor of Tel Aviv-Yafo, Admiral (res) Abraham Ben Shoshan, then Director General of the Tel Aviv- Yafo Foundation, and Dr. Meggie Navon, the head of the Foundation’s American desk, got off the plane from Tel Aviv. After introductions were made, Gert wrapped her large arms around the three of us and doubled over in laughter said: “What is this- some kind of a joke? – A mayor who is a pilot, a director general who is an admiral and a fund-raiser who is a doctor?” Her laughter was contagious. It is this laughter that we will always remember- this bubbling laughter that accompanied Gert wherever she went and in
    whatever she did

    In order to show us how “Israeli” she actually was, Gert, on the spot, insisted that we call her by her Hebrew name Dalia- and that we not speak Hebrew amongst ourselves. Why? Because anyways, she could understand every word we said. In the car, en route to the hotel in La Jolla, we finally realized the full extent of her “understanding” Every time we asked for directions all she said
    was: “ yashar yashar” and every time we made a comment- all she said was “sheket”(quiet- in Hebrew).

    Another thing we learned about Gert was that she had an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. She was often in the habit of asking us questions, answering them for herself and then revelling in how brilliant and insightful “our” answers were. This is the Gert we came to know and love, the funny Gert, the Gert whose every comment contained a pearl of wisdom. Gert’s intelligence, optimism, sense of humor, love of Israel and especially Tel Aviv knew no bounds.

    Even though Gert was 82 at the time we met her, she contended that she was really only 41. This was because she only counted the right side of herself… For this brilliant, funny, creative woman, the glass was always more than half- full.

    Gert was a talented journalist, never at loss for words, but distinguished most by her honesty. Open and direct in all of her pointed critiques and general commentaries, there never was a disconnect between what she thought and felt and what she said and wrote. The words she put to paper always came from her heart.

    When Gert joined the board of the American Committee for the Tel Aviv Yafo Foundation, the doors of the San Diego Jewish community swung open. Through her we met wonderful people – long time residents and new arrivals from Mexico and South Africa. Through her, we recruited many supporters and donors who individually and collectively contributed to the development of Tel Aviv.

    Gert was not someone who only “talked the talk”. She also “walked the walk”. Together with her daughter Linda Neiman and one of her best friends Jaime Brener, she established a kindergarten for toddlers in the east Tel Aviv neighborhood of Ramat Hatayasim. When the kindergarten needed
    upgrades, Gert turned to her friends Norman and Bobby Green, who joined forces and together created a safe heaven, a state- of- the- art enrichment corner— complete with educational toys, books, computers and age-appropriate software.

    When Gert came to Israel for the dedication ceremony of her kindergarten, she got off the plane sick- so sick that she had to be immediately rushed to Ichilov Hospital. When the doctors decided to put her into an induced coma, she protested that this was unacceptable, as she needed to attend a dedication ceremony of her kindergarten in four days time with the Mayor of Tel Aviv. The doctors originally thought that this was only drug-related babble, but something in the lady’s persistence caught the attention of Professor Topiliski, the head of the department. And indeed when Gert turned to him and said: “I did not come to Israel to languish in a hospital. I came to Tel Aviv with a mission and neither you nor anyone else will stop me”, Professor Topiliski decided to check
    out his patient’s story with the Mayor’s office. And so it came to pass, that Gert Thaler was not put into an induced coma until she had extracted a promise from her doctor and the staff at Ichilov Hospital that she would be temporarily awakened for three hours in four days time, so that she could attend the official opening ceremony of her kindergarten.

    Gert attended the opening ceremony. When the ceremony was over, she returned to Ichilov hospital and was immediately put back into the coma. There she remained in intensive care for an entire month until she was out of danger.

    To be with Gert in San Diego was an extraordinary experience. She was a celebrity. People from all walks of life sought out her company, her warmth and her intelligence. There was not a soul in the entire city who did not know her name. There was not a soul in the entire city that could remain unaffected by her.

    It was at first sight that we fell in love with Gert Thaler – and from that moment onwards we never stopped adoring her.

    We already miss her terribly.

    Ron Huldai and Meggie Navon

  11. linda neiman says:

    Gert’s granddaughter, Shelley, spoke at her funeral, here is what she had to say:
    Every year my Grandma addressed my birthday card one of two ways, “Happy Birthday to my favorite granddaughter or Happy Birthday to my only granddaughter.” This was our favorite running joke and I usually could tell what type of gift I was getting depending on what she wrote. But jokes aside, being Gert’s actual only Granddaughter was one of the best aspects of my life. Even though my Grandma was everywhere all the time, whenever I needed her she was always available and ready for fun. I have no idea if she ever had plans when I called her, but when I was little and driving my mother crazy all I had to do was pick up the phone, and off we would go for a day at Nordstrom complete with a pair of shoes to keep me quiet in front of Grandpa about the 4 pairs she bought for herself! Just a couple weeks ago I called her to do something and she wanted to do something “interesting” otherwise known as Martinis.

    But it was her ability to give all of us seemingly limitless amounts of her time that has made the most impact on me. Grandma Gert was the best “Best Friend” ever and she made each of us feel like the most special person in the world. Every time I talked to her she would tell me about the most important person in her life. Each time it was a different person. But as was her style, she only added friends and after 91 years I think she did a pretty good job collecting an amazing group of people. She made everyone she knew feel like her best friend and while that made keeping her birthday parties to a manageable number a challenge, I try to make my friends feel the same way. Grandma Gert was an adopted Grandma to many of Danny and my friends, whether they needed a crock pot, an extra pass to the Jewish Film Festival, rolled cabbage for 40, or anything picked up from Tijuana she was a phone call away for all of them. We always appreciated that about her and so did they.

    My Grandma loved hearing about all my cooking adventures with my girlfriends. Great food was so important to both of us. Dinner was always an event, whether we were out or she was cooking. She was a firm believer in a main course and another main course just in case. In case of what we will never know, but holidays at her house always consisted of a roast and a turkey, or chicken and rolled cabbage. Her dedication to Costco was legendary and luckily she had all of her QVC appliances to cook the food in and her extra freezer to store it all. Nothing was more amusing than reading all my Grandma’s articles about her testing bread makers or going on the cabbage soup diet because she ate too much bread. I knew she thought I was a great cook when she put me in charge of making the double main courses and even just this past week she was still cutting out recipes and we were still exchanging cooking tips on the phone.

    In her hey day Grandma Gert also knew how to throw a party. Most of my event planning skills were inspired by the fun, funny and slightly crazy ideas she had when coming up with events to commemorate life’s milestones. Whether she was making us dress in head to toe pink in Palm Springs, or convince everyone that the tailors from Nordstrom were really the wives of the Chinese Ambassadors and could only be touched if you were wearing white gloves, a party thrown by my Grandma was always special.

    Over the past few years as my Mom and I started throwing parties for her, she would still always plan an extra one on her own just in case whatever we were planning was not big enough, or purple enough, or have the right guest list. I know there are more than a few of you here right now who got two invitations to birthday parties each year…one from us and one from her. I honestly would not be surprised if some of you were going to another funeral tomorrow that was more to her taste.

    Clearly she loved to be in control and she always took control of any situation. I think half the town is going to be lost without her. I don’t know who we are going to call when we need a favor, a reservation at a new restaurant (she is friends with the Owner’s mother), someone to donate money to your charity—she loved matching people with the right charity, a trip planned, extra tickets to Cinema Society, a partner in crime or someone to run over to Costco.

    People also loved to do favors for her. I was constantly fascinated by her ability to convince people to give her their clothes and accessories. On many occasions my Grandma would be wearing a beautiful scarf or handbag and after asking her where she got it she would say I was just admiring it on a friend of mine the other day so they just took it off and gave it to me. She often tried this trick on me. I would be wearing a scarf and she would start touching it and asking questions about it. Needless to say I never handed over any of my accessories. But there are a variety of ladies out there who did and were proud that Gert was bouncing around town carrying their purse or wearing their necklace. She always gave them credit for their great taste and her own as well. The good news is that I just found out she gave her earrings to someone who liked them once too so she was fully committed to her system.

    My Grandma and yours was a truly unique and wonderful woman who left many, many shoes that I constantly enjoy trying to fill. Only Grandma Gert could make QVC chic, shopping a science, manipulation an art form, martinis Jewish, charity mandatory, Tijuana a lunch destination, small appliances a great gift, a freezer in the living room normal, and life fun for everyone around her. Being known as Gert’s Granddaughter is truly a blessing and an honor and I hope being Shelley’s Grandma was the same for her.

  12. linda neiman says:

    This is what her grandson, Danny Neiman, said in remembrance of Grandma Gert:
    It’s an honor to be able to speak today about my grandma, or should I say “our” Grandma Gert. She’s touched us all in such a special way. There are so many stories to tell when I think about my experiences with her. In fact I’ll bet almost everyone here has a crazy story about an adventure she took you on or a funny story about something she said or did. I’ve already heard some great ones over the past few days and I’m sure we’ll all be telling “Gert” stories forever.

    The stories I left out due to time contraints…(skip past the italics)
    I’ll always remember her Closet full of shoes- of course this was just for the ones she hid from Grandpa Mort. I always wondered how she hid a whole closet full of shoes from someone. I guess he never really wanted to know how many pairs he had paid for or how many were actually in there.

    And you know how she always drove way too far to the right side of the lane, well she wasn’t the best passenger either. I’ll always remember our family trip to Israel when Shelley and I were really young. My dad was driving up a narrow mountain road in the Golan Heights and Grandma wouldn’t let him make a U turn. So we went up this road for a few miles until she finally fell asleep. My dad quickly makes the u turn so we could go back before she woke up.

    There’s the story that still embarrass my sister to this day. I was playing football in Qualcomm stadium in the CIF Finals. Midway through the first quarter, Grandma comes strolling down the plaza section in her famous head to toe purple sweat suit. Not knowing that La Jolla’s colors were red and black. And what made it worse is we were playing the Saints. Their colors were purple and gold. And there’s grandma Gert yelling Shelley over here! Luckily I had no idea, but that’s Grandma for you.

    My favorite trip I took with Grandma Gert was the time about 10 years ago. She had a room in New York at the Marriott Marquis for 5 nights and invited me to stay with her. She told me her goal was to see 2 shows a day. Little did she know I wanted to sleep during the day! For 5 straight days she would wake up when I would go to sleep. We did have lunch and dinner together most days. She said I was the best travel partner because she always had the room to herself.

    I thought about telling stories today, but thought better of it. Instead I’ll tell you why she called me. I’m sure she called everyone here for favors or you all called her for the same, but she only called me for 5 things.

    1. To find out where my mom or sister were. If she couldn’t get in touch with them she’d call me like I had some amazing device that could get hold of them faster.
    2. From the 80’s on she would call me to come over to program her VCR. She knew no one had the patience to do this for her. Every time I got there I would run through how to do it and every time she needed a new show recorded, she’d come calling again and I’d run through it all over again. This happened with other technology stuff over the years but it all started with the VCR.
    3. Lately, she’d call me when there was a tsunami warning. I appreciated these calls because it meant the surf was probably going to be good. I’d assure her I was safer in the water than in my house in Mission Beach and that I’d call her as soon as I got out of the water, which of course I never did.
    4. As her investment advisor for the last 12 years she’d call me and ask two things about her account. What’s the price of Costco today? Well today Grandma COST is up 80 cents a share to over $87. And then she’d ask if she had enough money. Of course I always said yes because I didn’t have a choice. She’d already spent it.
    5. And finally she’d call to take her to the races. She’d organize the day for her and her girlfriends to have me pick them up and take them to the races. 11:30 they were to be picked up so we could get there in time to eat lunch. Teedy, Rosie and I would read the forms through lunch while Grandma had a martini. We’d all bet some, grandma with her $2 show bets and the rest of us playing to win! Basically I was there to chauffer and run bets to the ticket window.

    More seriously, for the past 18 years, from the passing of my dad’s dad Grandpa Bernie until now I’ve taken time to reflect on my life and I’ve realized that while you often get compared to your parents because that’s the natural thing for people to do, you actually get a lot of your strengths and personality traits from your grandparents. Each of my grandparents, while they had their flaws also definitely had their strengths and I came to see a lot of myself in this unique combined combination of the 4 of them.

    My grandpa Bernie was a Numbers guy and had great hand eye coordination. He was known to enter ping pong tournaments on cruise ships and always came home with the trophy. Grandma Elsa, who wasn’t more that 4’11, claimed athletic superiority. Although I always questioned that side of her I do know she was determined, tough and always stuck to the rules. She was extremely sharp and really thrifty. Grandpa Mort was golfer and a well respected business man, who also once bowled a perfect game. And as my friends always tell me, it’s always better to be lucky than good.

    And then there’s Grandma Gert. She was the ultimate people person. There isn’t a person here who didn’t call Gert when they needed advice and before Google and Yelp I’m sure we both got a lot more phone calls. And of course she always knew the right answer, or the right directions, or the best place to go no matter what city or country you were in. I’m sure that also a day didn’t go by where she wouldn’t run into someone she knew in a grocery store, at a restaurant or in an airport. Gert was also a planner. Whether it be trips with friends or a great party. She knew just the right person to call and the ideal itinerary to make every one of her guests happy and to have everything go as planned. She also taught me to buy all my shoes at Nordstrom’s, to eat lunch at Karl Strauss and love good Mexican food. And while I’m not big into costume jewelry, I have been known to throw on the occasional wig at parties.

    My grandma Gert was a great role model and I hope to help carry on her legacy, but it would probably take all of us here combined to have the effect she’s had and to touch the number of people she’s touched. She hasn’t been a Grandma to just us, but to everyone here, plus the other half of the city of San Diego, and add in the states of New Jersey, New York and parts of Texas, and most of Israel too.

    Unfortunately no one can live forever, but someone like my Grandma Gert will have her legacy stand the test of time. I want to help carry on that legacy, and while that’s a lofty goal, there’s no better person to aspire to be like than Grandma Gert.

  13. linda neiman says:

    Gert supported many charities, some of her favorites were:

    American Committee for the Tel Aviv Foundation
    http://www.telavivfoundation.org/
    1201 Broadway # 802, New York, NY 10001

    Ohr Shalom Congregation
    http://www.ohrshalom.org
    2512 3rd Avenue
    San Diego, CA 92103

    Congregation Adat Yeshurun
    http://www.adatyeshurun.org
    8625 La Jolla Scenic Drive North
    La Jolla, CA 92037

    The Samuel and Rebecca Astor Judaica Library,
    Children’s Collection at the Lawrence Family JCC
    http://www.lfjcc.org/development/index.aspx
    Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center
    JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS
    4126 Executive Drive
    La Jolla, CA 92037

    If you’d like to give a donation in her honor to any of the above organizations or one of your choosing, she would be very pleased!

  14. Tammy Cocco says:

    Wonderful memories here. May i share mine? I know Linda Neiman thru golf (at Morgan Run and Rancho Santa Fe) but our connection to Gert goes back to 1947. When Linda and I were discussing, some years ago, that we were both native San Diegans, the topic of our births at Mercy Hospital came up. Imagine our surprise and delight when we realized that Dr, Purvis Martin was not only my mother’s OB but also Linda’s mother’s. I was able to share that story with not only my Mom but also with Gert. What a small world this is. Two women, one Jewish, one Luthern, and a doctor named Purvis. And now these two great women are gone and their two daughters are left to carry on traditions and make sure the family stays strong.

  15. Lourdes Albo says:

    What could I say about a woman who always was ready to offer a helping hand, and brighten with her smile and sensitivity people’s lives? She was the kind of friend that everybody wants to have. My last visit with her was in December. My husband and I were visiting San Diego for our honeymoon. We visited her in the hospital. We really enjoyed spending time with her, listening to her stories, and laughing. What an incredible sense of humor! Though she was not well enough to join us for dinner, she insisted on making a dinner reservation for us at one of her favorite restaurants. She really wanted us to have an evening that would be a memorable highlight of our honeymoon. Once again, she was right, it was a perfect romantic dinner we will cherish always. We miss you, dear friend!

  16. Eileen Sandler says:

    Ah Auntie Gerti, she did everything with such panache and flair! When we were kids, one always knew where Gert was sitting during the high holidays as her hat was always the most stylish. If you needed something, you just called Gert because she knew everyone and everything and if she didn’t know she’d find out for you. She was a big part of my childhood even after my father (her first cousin) passed away at the early age of 49. Gert sent me and my friend Ava off to Israel after high school and arranged everything–unbeknownst to us–from a familiar San Diego face to greet us at the airport, to my cousin’s kibbutz. I always enjoyed reading her columns in the Jewish press and would look forward to them when I came home to San Diego to visit. Although it has been some time since I saw her last, she will always have a special place in my heart. Shalom Auntie Gertie! love, eileen

  17. linda neiman says:

    thanks Eileen. It’s good to hear from you!
    Love,
    Linda

  18. linda neiman says:

    This is an English Traslation of an ad that was placed in Ha’aretz Newspaper in Israel:

    With great sorrow a true friend has left us

    Mrs. Gert Thaler ז”ל
    (may her memory be blessed)
    San Diego, California

    Very generous donor, Leader in the Jewish community of San Diego California,

    Board member of the Tel Aviv Yafo Foundation, most talented journalist and our most devoted friend

    Ron Huldai, Mayor
    Dr. Magi Navon
    Zvi Knor, Director, T.A. Foundation

  19. administrator says:

    Gertrude Thaler was very well known in the Jewish community and even if you didn’t know her, she probably knew you or about you. She was soft and sweet and then all of a sudden she could be tough. This was fun to watch like the time she asked for assistance to be wheeled into an event and then someone was in her way and boy did she yell at them. I was impressed with her being able to drive herself up until about her last year and frequently go out on the town gallivanting. Until just a couple of weeks ago she was out almost every week at the movies and dinner with my mother.
    She was always up to date technologically which is very rare for someone at 91 years old. I mean she received and sent emails when 99% of folks at her age never even touched a computer. I also loved her writings in the Jewish Heritage and she touched me very much when she wrote about me and my Passover dinner in Honolulu at some people’s home when I had know where else to go.
    We became related through my mother getting remarried to her nephew who would technically make her my step-great aunt. She never liked the word step and always said Shimon is my nephew and his children are your brothers and sister and I’m your Aunt Gert etc. etc. . . . I learned a lot from her.
    She will be missed and I love her.
    Another Nephew,
    Bill Glassman

  20. I am sorry to read on the Net that Aunt Gert has passed and I pray it was peaceful.

    Aunt Gert was from my childhood and still now the most amazingly gorgeous woman I had and have ever seen. I loved and miss Mom, Lee Douglas, one of her sisters, immensely – but thought Mom had a fairy princess Sister Aunt Gert (or was she Miss America…)

    I truly thought she was a movie star (still do).

    I deeply miss my San Diego family, I send email sometimes, hold you all dear in my heart.

    The other thing is .. Aunt Gert knew where to get rationed bubble gum (the round pink twist paper wrapped kind with the cartoons) during or just after WWII in North Park.From time to time we got some gum on Cooper Street. I remember hunting for it every day just in case. Was it the fleers (?) or the caring? Those were still scary camouflage over Convair times; she w as as our own parents were a comfort. A stabilizing influence. Things would be alright. It was like with the current film: Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Things will work out in the end, or else it is not the end.

    Clearly Aunt Gert carried forth as an anchor for many. A magnificent Net-worker. She knew everything – we cousins thought. We learned later … that’s quite true.

    Sending sympathies and best wishes to you all, I google you all the time, best to you Larry and Linda … from “big Linda” Douglas. (Misek-Falkoff); I lost Adin in 2010.

    [email protected]

  21. Ellen Payzant says:

    I got to know Gert on a trip to Israel. She was the planner and guide for leaders and spouses from the San Diego community. My husband, Tom, was Superintendent of San Diego Pubic Schools and I got tot tag along! The trip was to introduce those of us who were not Jewish to Israel and we traveled with those from the Jewish community who held similar positions in the community. What a fabulous trip it was and Gert made certain it was memorable in every way.
    Perhaps the best part of the trip was the friendships that were formed many of which last to this day. We traveled for two weeks throughout the country. One of my favorite memories is coming into Jerusalem in the late afternoon and stopping at the Wailing Wall before going to the King David Hotel. Gert unthinkingly left her briefcase on the table in the lobby when she went to the desk to register us. The security guard threw it outside. She convinced him it was safe and fortunately it was returned to her. Meeting dignitaries, climbing Masada , visiting the Golan Heights and a military base, and spending time with new friends are but a few of the lasting memories from that trip. The reunions back in SD were enjoyed by us all.
    Gert you will be missed . What an impact you have had on us all!
    With great admiration and thanks,
    .Ellen Payzant
    Boston MA

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