Today, at 1:00 p.m., my family will hold a memorial service for my great-aunt Pearl, who died on Tuesday, September 15. She was 91 years old.
Aunt Pearl was my grandfather’s older sister, and the second of four children space two years apart. She was born on August 5, 1918, 67 years and 1 day before me (my birthday is August 6). The eldest was Eugene, then Pearl, followed by my grandfather, Joseph, and then Beatrice (or Bea). Pearl was the remaining surviving sibling when she passed away.
Pearl and Gene (1919 or 1920)
Pearl was born in Philadelphia, and in 1925, scandal hit my family when my great-grandmother, Regina, left my great-grandfather Nelson for another man, leaving him with four children to raise. Pearl, my grandpa and their brother and sister were parceled out and raised by Nelson’s siblings.
Pearl graduated from Olney High School around 1936, and a couple of years later, she married her husband, Benjamin Schuman. Ben and Pearl were married until his death in 1982. Pearl stayed at home, raising two children, Linda and Rich. After Ben died, Pearl split her time between an apartment in Philadelphia and a condo in Florida. Pearl also traveled a bit, having visited Europe and Israel.
Pearl with Linda, about 1945
I asked my cousin Mark (who is my dad’s first cousin, and Eugene’s son) if he had any interesting facts about Pearl to share in this post. He said, “My father always said she was the best automobile driver he ever knew. She was also an excellent swimmer.”
Pearl continued to drive up until her stroke this past spring.
Pearl was the matriarch of the Blass family, being the only surviving Blass sibling. Eugene passed away in the early 80s (or maybe the late 70s, it was before I was born), my grandpa Joe died when I was six years old, and Beatrice died when I was in high school. I didn’t know Pearl that well. I believe I met her when I was a baby, but she lived in Philadelphia and we only traveled to the East Coast once when I was growing up and that was to Washington D.C. Pearl and my grandmother (Pearl’s sister-in-law) came to visit Oregon when I was in high school. They came to see Beatrice, who was sick with Parkinson’s Disease and had recently moved to Portland with her husband, Aaron, and her daughter, Lisa and her family. I saw Pearl a few more times after that, especially once I moved to New Jersey. She was fun to be around. She still had her wits about her, which was very impressive.
Pearl: Then (1940) and now (circa 2008)
Wasn’t she glamorous?
Pearl is survived by a very large extended family. Among them are her daughter, Linda, and son, Richard; Linda’s husband, John, and children, David and Lauren; David’s wife Sue, and daughter; Lauren’s husband Eli, and her two daughters; Pearl’s nephews and nieces, Mark and Paul (Gene’s kids), Lisa, Dennys and Mark (Bea’s kids), and David and Laurie (Joe’s kids); and her grandnieces and grandnephews, which include myself and my brother.