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May 02, 2003 - Image 29

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-02

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Senior adult volunteers win "Eight Over 80" hall offame honors.



Special to the Jewish News

fight men and women with diverse back-
grounds and interests, but who are all devot-
ed to charity work and volunteerism are this
year's honorees in the Jewish Apartments &
Services Eight Over 80 program.
They will be inducted into the Senior Adult Hall of
Fame Sunday, May 4, as the organization marks a
decade of honoring the senior adult "heroes" in the
Jewish community. The 10th annual program will be
held from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Norma Jean and
Edward Meer Jewish Apartments on the Eugene and
Marcia Applebaum Jewish Community Campus in
West Bloomfield.
Funds raised from the event provide low-income JAS
residents with food subsidies to take care of their daily
kosher meals. More than half of the 800 residents rely
on these food subsidies.
The eight honorees are Leonard P. Baruch, Lester
Burton, Frita Roth Drapkin, Alan D. Kandel, Bea
Kriechman, Leah Snider, Walter M. Stark and Lenore
Dunsky Weiss.
Two honorees are nursing injuries. While walking her
dog recently, Drapkin, 90, of Southfield, slipped on the
ice and broke her leg. Kriechman, 83, suffered multiple
bruises when she fell in her Farmington Hills apart-
ment. Both now are in convalescent homes, but still are
hoping to attend Sunday's program.
Here's a closer look at the eight honorees:

Leonard P. Baruch

Leonard P. Baruch of
Southfield figures he's had
five different careers during
his 80 years — starting in a
library and ending in a
cemetery. When his father
died at 42, Baruch was 13;
he worked as a page at a
Detroit library branch
while attending Hutchins
Intermediate School.
"The school librarian
befriended me and helped
me overcome my grief," he
said. "Because of these experiences, I took a strong lik-
ing to library work."
He attended Northern High School and obtained a

degree in education and library science from Wayne
(State) University, both in Detroit.
He spent 32 years in the Detroit school system and,
ironically, ended up replacing the Hutchins librarian
who had consoled him. As president of the Southfield
Library Board and a member of the Oakland County
Library Board, he developed a program to bring books
to residents of assisted living homes.
Baruch continued a lifetime of working with children
by teaching and serving as youth director at
Congregation Shaarey Zedek's religious school, develop-
ing many special programs for children. He also helped
operate a highly successful private children's camp for
26 years.
Baruch's only venture into the private business sector
was when he spent 10 years as vice president of the Ace-
Tex Co. in Detroit, mainly handling union matters and
public relations.
Baruch was asked to return to Shaarey Zedek in 1987
as acting executive director for a short time. "It was sup-
posed to be for three months, but I stayed for 12 years,"
he said.
He holds the title of executive director emeritus.
Following that "retirement," he was asked to be execu-
tive director of Clover Hill Park Cemetery in Troy, and
is currently overseeing an extensive expansion program.
He and his wife, Ann, have been married for 51 years
and have three children and eight grandchildren.

Lester Burton

While building homes,
offices and apartments for
63 years, Burton, 88, of
Bingham Farms also has
built an impeccable profes-
sional reputation and given
his own personal financial
support for countless
Jewish charities — all
while winning two bouts
with cancer.
After attending Detroit's
Denby High School, he
graduated from Wayne's
law school. In 1939, he
took over the building business founded by his father,
Barnett J. Burton, in 1912. The firm still is flourishing
as the Burton-Katzman Development Co. in Bingham
Farms. "I'm proud of the fact that I built about 10,000
homes and never was sued for any reason by an owner,

contractor or supplier," said Burton.
He has volunteered his time and expertise in build-
ing, zoning and landscaping matters for several Jewish
organizations. He served eight terms as chairman of the
state Department of Licensing and Regulation's Builders
Division and is a member of the Detroit Builders
Association's Hall of Fame. He has arbitrated disputes
between builders and homeowners and also delivered
lectures at state colleges, always donating his fees to
When Burton's daughter contracted multiple sclerosis
at an early age, he became dedicated to comforting her
and also raising funds and serving on the National MS
Board. He played the flute for many years with the
Wayne State Orchestra, "but I had to give it up last year
because chemotherapy treatments left my fingers
numb," he said. Burton and his wife, Evelyn, to whom
he has been married for 57 years, also have four sons.

Frita Roth Drapkin

Drapkin came to the United States from
Czechoslovakia at age 11
and, through grit and deter-
mination, became a teacher,
lecturer, artist and author of
humor books. She per-
formed her first act of kind-
ness at 13, when she loaned
her new coat to a shivering
gentile girl in school, then
incurred her mother's wrath
when the girl refused to
return it.
This started Drapkin's
lifelong mission of giving to
the community, and con-
tinued with performances
with other children in hind-raising shows to benefit
orphans. She still raises funds for orphanages and med-
ical treatment centers in Israel as president of the
Detroit chapter of Jewish Women's International.
She attended Western High School, got a master's
degree in education from Wayne University and
embarked on a 40-year teaching career at Detroit ele-
mentary schools. Without pay, she tutored many of her
students who needed help, but couldn't afford it. "My
compensation came from the good feeling I got when
they achieved," she said.


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