- Named Funds
Lonny Darwin z’l – October 29, 1912 – January 11, 2013
Just as Lonny Darwin shaped the Bay Area Jewish community, many people, places, and passions shaped Lonny. Our entire community has benefited from her work—whether it be youth who can learn about the Holocaust or the elderly who can enjoy a cultural performance.
Lonny was a community leader, a true philanthropist, and a dear friend. Living for more than 100 years gave her ample opportunity to learn important life lessons from people, passions, travels, and experiences. Lonny was who she was because of these multiple influences, and none more so than her family before her.
Indeed, one of Lonny’s many pursuits was compiling her family history, extending back to her great grandfather, head of the Jewish community in Nagykanizsa, Hungary, who was renowned for his charitable work. Although Lonny managed to leave Germany for San Francisco in the late 1930s, her mother, a talented painter and sculptor, was killed at Auschwitz. The Holocaust and the loss of her mother had a great impact on her life, and she committed herself to making sure that this period in our history is never forgotten.
To honor her family and the millions murdered during the Holocaust, Lonny collected and preserved Yizkor books—which included precious historical details—from Europe’s vanished Jewish communities. Perhaps her greatest gift to our community was her tireless work as a co-founder of the Holocaust Center of Northern California in 1977, which is now part of JFCS.
“Her commitment to the endeavors she cared about is legendary,” said community leader Dr. Ingrid Tauber, then a member of JFCS’ Board of Directors. “Lonny enriched and strengthened our lives by her ability to engage us in her passionate pursuits.”
Lonny gave generously to causes, including JFCS, in which she wholeheartedly believed. Leaders from many organizations in our community—Jewish, cultural, and educational—paid tribute to Lonny at a memorial service held at JFCS in February 2013.
Morgan Blum Schneider, Director of the JFCS Holocaust Center, described her pleasure in working with Lonny: “Lonny’s praise, encouragement, and expressions of confidence helped to reaffirm the importance of our work to teach youth about the Holocaust and inspire social responsibility,” Blum Schneider said. “When you spoke to Lonny, she truly listened, and you knew her heart and soul took in each word with great attention.” We will all remember Lonny as a true Renaissance woman, a spunky centenarian with big sunglasses, a radiant smile, and incredible energy.
Through her bequest, life-income gift, and the Leonie J. Darwin and Jay A. Darwin Endowment Fund to benefit the JFCS Holocaust Center, future generations will benefit greatly. “Lonny approached life with immense passion and fervor,” said Dr. Tauber. “Her gifts to our community through her dedication will grace our memories for years to come.