04 March 2014

Tombstone Tuesday: Lee Urbass Wilson

My Aunt Lee Wilson was a Renaissance woman. I think of her as warm, self-confident and adventuresome. A fine cook, she became like Julia Child (but shorter). Late in life she parlayed her organizational skills into a career.

Here lies
Died 6 Nisan 5762
SEPT. 2, 1921 - MARCH 19, 2002
Lee was the third child of Yudel (Julius) and Feiga (Fannie) Tepper Urbass in New York City. Yudel had emigrated to the United States in 1913 from Radom Gubernia, Russian Empire.[1] Feiga, born in Opatow, Radom Gubernia (located 164 km south of Warsaw in today's Poland), and her two children followed in 1920.[2]  I have found several records that indicate that Lee's real name may have been Lillie or Lillian (something I did not know, previously).[3]

Lee married my uncle Ira Wilson (my mother's brother) after World War II. They settled in Brooklyn and had one child.

Lee grew up in an Orthodox Jewish home and kept Kosher. When the family would celebrate Passover together, we would always go the Aunt Lee and Uncle Ira's house. This was because my mother did not keep a Kosher home and Lee didn't feel she could eat there during the holidays under those circumstances.

Lee and Ira had a summer cabin on a small lake in Succasunna, New Jersey. Lee and their son would spend the week there and Ira would join them on the weekends. My family would occasionally go to New Jersey to visit for the day. One of my fond memories is the one time I spent a few days at the cabin with Lee. The cabin was spartan but comfortable. There was a row boat to take out on the lake, poles for fishing (although I cannot recall ever catching anything), and comfortable chairs along the shore. It was quiet, relaxing and comforting to spend quality time with someone I loved.

After her son was grown and out of the house, Lee decided to enrolled in City College. She got a student job in the College President's office and after graduation, they offered her permanent job. She was to organize official dinners and events for the President's office.

Lee had always been an excellent cook, but now she learned from the pros and absorbed a great deal. When my husband and I would visit New York, Lee and Ira would invite us over for dinner - enjoyable conversation and gourmet fare. What could be better! Always a highlight of our trips.

Lee fought the good fight against cancer, but succumbed on 19 March 2002. I flew home (across country) for the funeral - the only relative (aside from my parents) for whom I've done that. 

1. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com
 (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 12 March 2013), manifest, S.S. Zeeland, Antwerp to New York, arriving 10 June 1913, List 5, passenger 30, indexed as Tidel Arbus; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715, Roll 2101.

2. "New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957," digital images, Ancestry.com
 (http://www.ancestry.com: accessed 24 February 2014), manifest, S.S. Nieuw Amsterdam, Rotterdam to New York, arriving 12 October 1920, List 40, passenger 17, Fajga Urbas; citing National Archives Microfilm Serial T715, Roll 2851.

3. 1925 NY State Census, 1930 U.S. Census, 1940 U.S. Census and Yudel's Petition for Naturalization. Fannie's naturalization petition lists her daughter as "Lea."


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