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January 27, 1995 - Image 32

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1995-01-27

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Autorta rogrlifilt

The Colonel

Arthur Becker was certain of one
thing: There was room for everybody
who wanted to serve his country.
Cirrtififair lit Arai-filiation
Col. - Becker was the former direc-
tor and founder of the Southfield Civ-
il Defense, where he welcomed women
and minorities at a time when many
is award,/ IL, artifica
believed serving the United States
le i,, ,q6preciation
of and ( Recognition fOr „Acrit,
was strictly a white male's business.
"That's what I remember best
Ti(18 __Ey.„0 /ireicriAsCiyi4J3
about him," says longtime family
JEEE , 6zsz
friend J. Christy Osborn. "He found
a way to utilize everyone's abilities
Presented 4y
and he treated everyone — everyone
— fairly."
W ineleen Rnclred and s/xTr
Arthur C. Becker, who lies buried
a _Paretile_c_r_zaAr_Sgi
in Row 11 of Section 6 at Mach-
r 41-0 7
pelah, was born April 21, 1918, to
Anna and Harry Becker, a founder
of Becker Brothers Printing.

Arthur Becker served his coun-
try in World War II, receiving three The American Legion making
Purple Hearts and two Silver Stars. was one of the many the Southfield Civil De-
After the war, he established the organizations to
fense office so successful.
Southfield office of Civil Defense, which Col. Becker
"He attracted a lot of
on Evergreen Road, which com-
members because of his
prises a variety of organizations from
personality," she says. "He was the kind
the state police to ham radio operators.
of man who always made you laugh, who
Among Col. Becker's closest friends made you feel good. That's what I miss
were the Osborns, whom he met in 1952.
Today, the Osborns' daughter, J. Christy, most."
Col. Becker died March 14, 1987, at
an attorney, remembers the colonel as a William Beaumont Hospital. He was 68
gentle man who loved his country —"he
wanted to contribute to our community years
Col. Becker, who lived on Kildaire in
and to the United States" — and loved Southfield, left behind much memora-
bilia, including uniforms and medals
"He was always giving candy to the which Ms. Osborn donated to the city of
girls at the office," she says.
Southfield. She hopes they will be put on
Among the organizations to which Col.
Becker belonged were the Veterans of display.
Ms. Osborn says that many of Col.
Foreign Wars, the Veterans Cititens Becker's friends attended his funeral,
League (of which he was state comman- which she arranged. But there wasn't
der), the Jewish War Veterans, the Dis-
much family.
abled American Veterans, the Oakland
Col. Becker had been married and di-
County Law Enforcement Association, vorced, but he had no children. "It's too
the Southfield Arts Council, the nation- bad because he loved children," Ms. Os-
al advisory board of the American Secu- born says. She gave the American flag
rity Council and the American Federation that lay across his casket to Col. Becker's
of Police.
nieces and nephews.
Ms. Osborn credits Col. Becker with





P/SrA cr

Little Boy Lost


Many of these children never even had
a name.
"Baby Klein," reads one gravestone.
Others say simply, "Infant Daughter."
The heart of Machpelah, right in the
center of the cemetery, is the children's
section. There is a statue of a lamb and
a little girl who holds a pink basket that
fills with flowers in the spring. "Blankets,"
made of pine branches and cones with rib-
bons, cover a number of the graves in win-
ter. Sometimes, visitors leave notes and
Even workers at Machpelah, accus-
tomed as they are to dealing with death,
can't bear children's funerals. "It's too
painful," said one.
Among the graves in the children's sec-
tion is that of Philip Jeffrey Gordon. He
was born April 14, 1950, and died April
11, 1951. What is unusual about his grave-
stone is that it bears the word "killed."
Little information is available about
Philip Jeffrey Gordon. He was born in De-
troit to Joseph C. and Sari C. Gordon. The
earliest record of Joseph C. Gordon in De-.
troit was 1941, when he was single and
living with Albert and Ida Gordon, at 4027
Webb, between Holmur and Webb in the
Dexter neighborhood. Both Joseph and
Albert worked as city bus drivers.
Albert, who most likely was Joseph's
brother, had been in Detroit for a number
of years, living on Elmhurst, Calvert and
In 1950, the year Philip was born,
Joseph and Sari (also known as Sarah)
Gordon lived in the Atkinson Apartments
at 3402 Atkinson and Savery, just east of
Not even Philip's first home has sur-
vived: the site of the former Atkinson

Atkinson, died April 11. Services were
at Kaufman Chapel with Rabbi
Lehrman officiating. He leaves his par-
ents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph C. Gordon,
and his grandparents, Mr. and Mrs.
Morris Rosenswerg. Interment, Mach-
pelah Cemetery.

Top: No family oversees care of the final resting
spot of this little boy.
Above: Obituary as it appeared in The Jewish

Apartments is today a vacant lot.
Apparently, Philip became sick some-
time in early 1951. He spent the last hours
of his life at Children's Hospital in Detroit.
His death certificate says Philip died of
interstitial pneumonitis, resulting from
an infection that leaves the lungs sticky
and leather-like. One of its causes is in-
halation of a toxic substance, like radia-
tion or poison.
This is where the mystery both begins
and ends, though. No more information
is available on the case. Even Philip's au-
topsy report was incomplete. (Hospital of-
ficials release medical records to family
Philip Jeffrey Gordon lies buried in lot
29, Row 9, Section H at Machpelah. Ira
Kaufman Chapel handled the arrange-
ments for the funeral, which was held
April 12, 1951. Rabbi Moses Lehrman of
Congregation B'nai Moshe officiated.
No one oversees the grave, which
means it's possible all close family has
died, or perhaps they have moved away.
These days, only cemetery workers are
there to care for the final resting spot of
this tiny soul. ❑
If you have any information on Philip
Jeffrey Gordon or his family, contact Eliz-
abeth Applebaum at The Jewish News.

D.7%; T i !;7—

1, 4STA.

C 0 .14 41 AA, DST

Col. Arthur Becker (in hat) with members of the Southfield Civil Defense.

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