The Gentle Builder
The war hero returned to a time of
opportunity. In the 1950s, working
with Irvin Yackness, executive vice
president of the Building Industry
ith his eyes always set
Association of Southeastern Michigan
on the future, Irving
(BIA), Mr. Levine secured enactment
Levine built the single-
family homes Detroiters of state legislation that established the
were clamoring for in the nesting years DPW Act.
"That made possible the Evergreen
that followed World War II.
He put in long days operating Irvine Interceptor, a sewer line that opened
up Western Wayne
Home Builders, taking
and Western Oakland
over the home-based
counties, areas that
business started by his
Samuel, a carpenter.
But surpassing even
his passion for work was
Hills," Yackness said.
the devotion he showed
The extension of util-
his wife, Ruthe, and
ities and a change in
Irving Levine of
Farmington Hills died
construction to move
Jan. 20, 2003, on his
into Detroit's sub-
85th birthday, at home
with his loved ones, suc-
Yackness said Mr.
cumbing to chronic
Levine was "extreme-
heart disease and
and very facile with
Debra Tapper and Lisa
the costs of construc-
Barbas held his hand as
tion" during his
he drew his last breath.
career of building thousands of homes
Mr. Levine was a dignified, gentle
man, who "liked to sit back and watch in greater Detroit. Brother-in-law
Irving Rosenthal was his partner, later
others" get the attention, said Rabbi
joined by Mr. Levine's son Paul and
Harold Loss at the funeral. As often as
not, that "other" was his wife, a retired son-in-law Jeffrey Tapper, an attorney.
Farmington Hills drama and forensics
teacher. She enjoyed being "the life of
the party," said daughter Lisa, as much Builder's Hall Of Fame
Mr. Levine was BIA president in 1960
as Mr. Levine decidedly did not.
This marriage of opposites stood the and helped military veterans secure
home loans as chair of the organiza-
test of time, since 1941. He was 22
tion's FHA-VA Committee. In 1991,
when his sister Shirley Rosenthal
he received BIA's highest honor, the
introduced him to 17-year-old Ruthe
Builders Hall of Fame Award, recog-
Schefman. Ruthe turned down Irv's
nizing his leadership and devotion to
marriage proposal on their second
the housing industry.
date, concerned about the age differ-
His proudest honor was one Ruthe
ence. They parted a year later.
arranged for his 80th birthday celebra-
Three months after the breakup,
tion. The family knew he'd always felt
when she got off the streetcar at
bad about not finishing his college
Grand Boulevard by the Fisher
degree when his ailing mother needed
Building in Detroit, there was Irving
waiting in his green Buick.
"I spoke with the deans and sur-
"He said, 'I'll take you home,
prised him with a diploma: a bache-
Ruthe,'" she recalled. They married
lor's in economics," Ruthe said. "He
after a three-week engagement.
asked me, 'Is this for real?'
Just six weeks later, the bridegroom
"'Yes, Irving,"' she answered at the
was drafted into the Army. He served
time. "'You just graduated from the
as a tank commander and received a
University of Michigan.'"
Bronze Star for combat in Italy and
The Levine children all mentioned
ESTHER ALLWEISS TSCHIRHART
Special to the Jewish News.
their parents' close marriage. During
Mr. Levine's healthy years, the couple
skied, played tennis and golf and went
ballroom dancing with their Cotillion
Club. Ruthe said, "We went on 17
cruises, including China three times,
and traveled all over Europe."
Living down the street from her par-
ents, daughter Debra said the grand-
kids felt comfortable just dropping by.
Home for them is in the Farmington
Hills subdivision of Rolling Oaks, one
that Mr. Levine's company developed.
"He lived with his customers, know-
ing they [Irvine] had delivered a good
product," said Rabbi Loss of Temple
Israel, where the Levines were charter
Even with the onset of Alzheimer's,
Mr. Levine "came to temple every
Friday night and sat in the same seat
and participated in the service," said
Jewish News Editor Robert Sklar, a
family friend On Saturday nights,
Ruthe and her husband would go with
an aide to the movies. "I always want-
ed him to be with me," she said.
Irving Levine is survived by his
wife, Ruthe Levine; son, Paul Levine
of Farmington Hills; daughters and
sons-in-law, Lisa and Andrew Barbas
of West Bloomfield, Debra and
Jeffrey Tapper of Farmington Hills;
grandchildren, Shayna and Joey
Levine, Adrienne, Matthew and
Brian Barbas, Ryan, Lori and Adam
Tapper; daughter-in-law, Helen
Levine; sisters and brother-in-law,
Shirley Rosenthal, Lillian Goldhaber
Peskin, Jane and Marvin Risman;
and sisters-in-law, Regene Schmier
and Theda Schefman.
Mr. Levine was the loving grandfa-
ther of the late Samuel Todd Levine
and the dear brother-in-law of the
_late Leslie Schmier and the late
Interment was at Beth El
Memorial Park. Contributions may
be made to the Samuel Todd Levine
Baby Book Fund, Temple Israel,
5725 Walnut Lake, West Bloomfield,
MI 48323, Hospice of Michigan,
2525 Telegraph, Suite 100,
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302; and
Alzheimer's Association, 17220 W.
12 Mile, Suite 100, Southfield, MI
48076. Arrangements by Ira
Kaufman Chapel. ❑
GIFT OF COMPASSION from page 107
sang for Ben-Gurion in Tel Aviv and
had tea with her friend Golda Meir.
Mrs. Schaver belonged to and sup-
ported a veritable multitude of organ-
izations, both locally and abroad,
ranging from several Israeli education-
al institutions to the NAACP.
She was a great supporter of the
arts, donating generously to the
Detroit Symphony Orchestra and the
restoration of Orchestra Hall, the
Metropolitan Opera, the Detroit
Institute of Arts, the Detroit Public
Library and Wayne State University,
where she established the Morris and
Emma Schaver Educational Fund at
the WSU Press and endowed the
Emma Lazaroff Schaver Music
Building and Recital Hall.
Some of her many other affiliations
include the American Israel Cultural
Foundation, the Israel Development
Corporation of America, the
American Friends of Hebrew
University, Bar-Ilan University in
Israel, the National Labor Committee
for Israel, the Jewish National Fund,
the Weitzman Institute in Israel, the
Israel Bonds Prime Minister's and
Century Clubs, the Zionist
Organization of America and the
Labor Zionist Organization.
She supported many other local
educational institutions, including
Yeshiva Beth Yehudah, Yeshivat Akiva
and P'TACH. The Schavers were
among the principal founders of
Hillel Day School of Metropolitan
Detroit and. Sinai Hospital of Detroit.
Emma Schaver is survived by her
son, Dr. Isaac Schaver of Southfield;
brothers and sisters-in-law, Morris and
Anne Lazaroff of St. Louis, Aaron and
Nora Lazaroff of Encino, Calif.; sister
and brother-in-law, Edith and Robert
Tannenbaum of Carmel, Calif.; and
grandchildren Shira Tziporah Schaver
of New York City and Rona Bella
(Alon) Ofry of Tel Aviv.
She was the beloved wife of the late
Morris "Moshe" Schaver.
Interment was at Har Hamenuchot
in Jerusalem, with arrangements by
Hebrew Memorial Chapel.
Contributions may be made to the
Lubavitch Foundation at 6890 West
Maple, West Bloomfield, Michigan,
48322, or the Jewish National Fund,
OBITS on page 111