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January 31, 2013 - Image 81

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2013-01-31

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obituaries

A Life Of Worth

W

alter Manfred Stark, died Jan. 17, 2013, at
his home in Bloomfield Hills. He was 93.
Beginning with his arrival from
Germany at age 18 in 1938, Walter was an extremely
active participant in Detroit's Jewish community. From
the early 1940s, he was active in Self Help, a Jewish
refugee organization, and joined Gemilus Chasadim
Congregation in Detroit.
He met his wife, Margaret, at a Self Help dance at
the Jewish Center on Woodward Avenue. He went on
to Wayne University for a B.S. in chemical engineering
and began working at the Ford
Motor Company Highland Park
plant as a chemist.
In 1948, Walter founded his
own business in reinforced plas-
tics. He worked for 59 years in
consulting and sales, finally retir-
ing in 2007 at the age of 88.
Walter was a founding member
and president of Temple Emanu-
El in Oak Park. He served as
I x
president of the Metro Detroit
. E
Federation of Reform Synagogues 1
Walter Stark
and was a longtime member
of the Detroit Roundtable of
Christians, Muslims and Jews. He was a frequent lec-
turer at the Holocaust Memorial Center, originally in
West Bloomfield, now in Farmington Hills.
More recently, he was an active member and choir
member of Temple Beth-El in Bloomfield Township.
His chanting of the Kiddush at Shabbat services was
memorable.
To his family and community, Walter was the role
model for Jewish awareness and involvement. However,
few are aware of how he had made his way to Detroit
from Nazi Germany some 75 years ago.

Desperate Letters

In Munich in 1936, Walter's parents feared that it was
no longer safe for him to attend public school. Jewish
students were being taunted; ordinary citizens were
being arrested; and some members of their Jewish com-
munity had simply disappeared overnight without a
trace. His parents decided to send him to a college prep
program at the Buxton Academy in England.
As an athletic and gregarious 17-year-old, Walter
welcomed this opportunity to be away from home, on
his own, in the comfortable social setting of a British
private school. But soon, Walter became troubled by the
deteriorating conditions in Germany and the safety of
his family back in Munich. So he began using any spare
time he had at school to write letters to anyone who
could possibly help.
Walter wrote scores of letters to people that his family
knew and even to strangers, looking for someone who
might be willing to take in his family or at least help
them in their effort to escape from Germany. One of
these letters reached Albert Schmidt, a recent newcom-
er to Detroit, who had previously worked in Munich at
the men's clothing store that Walter's family had owned.
Schmidt showed this letter to his new boss, Herman
Osnos, who owned Sam's Cut Rate Department Store on
Woodward and Randolph in Downtown Detroit. Osnos
wrote back to Walter in England and was impressed by
Walter's maturity and single-mindedness.

Osnos eventually agreed to provide an affidavit for
Walter and his brother, Werner. This affidavit enabled
them (and later their parents) to leave Germany in 1938
and to settle in Detroit.
Fast forward 65 years to 1995. Walter's son and
daughter-in-law, Dr. Robert and Helen Stark of
Greenwich, Conn., had heard that a son of Herman
Osnos, Gilbert, was living in nearby Stamford. They
decided to invite the younger Osnos to the bar mitzvah
of their son, David, in late March 1995.
When he stopped by their house after the service,
Gilbert Osnos brought with
him a white packet tied up with
brown string. He had found
them among his father's papers
earlier that year after he had
moved to a nursing home. In
the packet were all of the letters
from 1937 between 17-year-
old Walter in England and the
senior Osnos in Detroit.
Robert and Helen Stark pored
over these letters that were writ-
ten in Robert's father's schoolboy
script. They could sense Walter's
mounting fear and desperation in
those letters, as well as his heavy sense of responsibil-
ity that his family's fate might well hinge on his letter-
writing efforts.
These original letters were donated by the Osnos family
to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. They
can be seen and read at the museum in Washington, D.C.

Steadfast Persistence

But the real point of Walter's legacy to his family and
community extends beyond these letters — or the U.S.
citizenship and lives his children, grandchildren and
great-grandchildren enjoy in Detroit.
"It's really about my father's example of steadfast
persistence, his devotion to community and his abiding
faith in the goodness of his fellow man," said Robert.
"I am truly grateful for this and hope to draw on it
for my own community involvement in future years."
Walter Stark is survived by the love of his life, his
wife of 67 years, Margaret; son and daughter-in-law, Dr.
Robert and Helen Stark of Greenwich, Conn.; daugh-
ters and sons-in-law, Barbara Stark-Nemon and Dr.
Barry Nemon of Ann Arbor, Joanna Stark Abramson
and Jay Abramson of West Bloomfield, and Julie Stark
and Rabbi Steven Stark-Lowenstein of Illinois; grand-
children, Caroline and Josh Beer, Dr. David Stark and
Stephen Haskell, Adam Nemon, Joshua Abramson,
Jacob Abramson, Eric and Christine Nemon, Nathan
Nemon, Jonathan Abramson, Benjamin Lowenstein,
Noah Lowenstein, Julia Abramson; great-grandsons,
Jackson Beer, Charles Beer and Connor Nemon.
He was the loving brother of the late Werner Stark
and the late Lilo Fauman; the dear brother-in-law of the
late Joseph Fauman.
Interment was at Beth El Memorial Park.
Contributions may be made to Temple Beth El,
Walter M. Stark Memorial Fund, 7400 Telegraph,
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301, www.tbeonline.org; or
Holocaust Memorial Center, 28123 Orchard Lake Road,
Farmington Hills, MI 48334, www.holocaustcenter.org .
Arrangements by Ira Kaufman Chapel.



JACOB BAROFF, 89, of West
Bloomfield, died Jan. 23, 2013.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years,
Mary Baroff; sons and daughter-in-
law, Alan Baroff of West Bloomfield,
and Dr. Stewart and Dianne Baroff of
Commerce; grandchildren, Brandon
and Kaila Baroff; sister, Miriam Baroff;
niece, Terry Lewis; great-nephew, Seth
Blumberg.
Interment was at Adat Shalom Memorial Park.
Contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's
Association, 20300 Civic Center Drive, #100, Southfield,
MI 48076, www.alzgmc.org; or a charity of one's choice.
Arrangements by Ira Kaufman Chapel.

MAY BAUMGARTEN, 91, of Southfield, died Jan. 25,
2013.
She is survived by her son, Gary Baumgarten; daughter,
Pat Meredith of Southfield; grandchildren, Lena and Tony
Santacaterena, Daniel Baumgarten, Jay Meredith and Julie
Baumgarten; many other relatives and friends.
Mrs. Baumgarten was the beloved wife of the late
Martin Jacob Baumgarten; the loving sister of the late
Isadore Binder.
Interment was at Machpelah Cemetery. Contributions
may be made to Leukemia Foundation of Michigan, 29777
Telegraph Road, Suite 1651, Southfield, MI 48034, www.
leukemiamichigan.org; or to a charity of one's choice.
Arrangements by Ira Kaufman Chapel.

LESLEE "DEBBY" BLOOM, 58, of Southfield, died Jan.
21, 2013.
As a child, she was a pretty little girl who loved to dress
up in pink pinafores and was ready to kiss and be kissed.
She grew up to be a lovely young woman, who was gentle
and soft spoken and always ready to help people. She regu-
larly helped two senior citizens, who became her devoted
friends.
Debby graduated from Southfield Lathrup High School,
attended Oakland University and became a registered
electrologist. Many of her patients became her friends. She
loved to play tennis and to attend hockey games. She will
be greatly missed.
She was the younger sister of Mark Boom. She is also
survived by cousins Judy and Mickey Stern; and many
other loving cousins and friends.
Debby was the daughter of the late Shirley and the late
Louis Bloom.
Interment was at Machpelah Cemetery. Contributions
may be made to Karmanos Cancer Institute, 4100 John
R, Detroit, MI 48201, www.karmanos.org ; B'nai B'rith
Youth Organization (BBYO), 6600 W. Maple Road, West
Bloomfield, MI 48322, www.bbyo.org/michtributes; or
a charity of one's choice. Arrangements by Ira Kaufman
Chapel.

BEN BRISKIN, 92, of West Bloomfield, died Jan. 25, 2013.
He is survived by his wife of 63 years, Josephine Briskin;
sons and daughters-in-law, Robert and Laurie Briskin of
Malibu, Calif., Dr. Gary and Nancy Briskin of Manhattan
Beach, Calif., and Dr. Kenneth Briskin and Dr. Jill Baren
of Bryn Mawr, Pa.; grandchildren, Perrie, Jamie, Lauren,
Dana, Gregory, Noah and Andrew; sister, Ann Bebes.
Interment was at Adat Shalom Memorial Park.
Contributions may be made to Peter & Dorothy Brown
Adult Day Care Program, 6720 W. Maple Road, West
Bloomfield, MI 48322, www.jslmi.org . Arrangements by
Ira Kaufman Chapel.

Obituaries on page 82

Obituaries

JN

January 31 • 2013

81

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