Beatrice Friedberg Lewis died peacefully in her home on July 2, 2021.
She was loved by hundreds; she will be missed by many more.
Her Mission: to spread unconditional love, to ease others’ pain, to be a faithful friend.
Born in Chicago on March 13,1917, she was one of the six children of Max and Anna Friedberg. Always known as Beadie, she moved to Houston with the family when she was six years old. Ever after, she considered Houston the only place to be, simply because most of her family was here.
A graduate of San Jacinto High School she went on to the University of Texas, graduating with a degree in Social Studies in 1938. At age 102, as possibly the oldest living alumna, she gave an interview for the UT alumni bulletin.
In 1938 she married Nathan Lewis. Her curiosity about others and ability to touch everyone around her meant that she soon became a part of the Lewis, Levit and Friedman families. She was a substitute teacher for many years and was a popular and successful member of Nathan’s sales team at Lewis-Nathan’s Jewelry Store on Main Street.
In 1942 she gave birth to Michael, who was the apple of her eye until her daughter Lynn arrived in 1950. Always drawn to children, she reveled in motherhood, its accompanying activities, and the close connection her children had with all their cousins. Her sister June with Nelson were nearby with their four children, as was her brother Bob, together with Eddie, and their daughters. Nathan’s brother Harry, with Helene and their daughters, were a part of family activities. Michael and Lynn loved going to Galveston to be with their cousins, as well as Beadie’s brother Whizz and Vivian. There were also opportunities to get together with Beadie’s brother Hank, his wife, Dorothy, and their children, who lived in New Orleans, and with Nathan’s sister Helena, with Paul and their children, who lived in Dallas.
After her children left home, she and Nathan began to travel extensively, to Australia, Asia, East Africa, Israel and Egypt. They were usually part of a group that would include a number of their siblings, cousins and their spouses. Beadie loved being with them all because she was the quintessential extrovert, a real ‘social animal.’ Her family were her vitamins. Later, with great gusto, she joined in Lewis-Oberman trips to Greece, Turkey and Alaska, and journeyed frequently to Bannockburn, Illinois for holidays and parties. Whenever she was invited, her answer always was, “My bags will be packed in one hour.”
In 1976 her granddaughter Alyssa arrived, followed soon after by Melanie. Hadley completed the trio in 1978, broadening Beadie’s beautiful smile and providing Nathan unlimited boasting material.
For many years she was her synagogue’s visitor to those who were sick. When she was with family or friends in the hospital she truly felt their pain and would often stay all day. The death of a relative or friend affected her viscerally for years after. She, herself, suffered many losses. Her husband of 60 years died in 1999, her daughter, Lynn, in 2012; and her beloved sister, June, in 2019. She endured many painful hospital stays but her iron will always carried her through.
Her curiosity and life-long love of learning meant she was always in the front of the tour group in the museum and always asking questions wherever she went. She read all the time, including books discussed in Michael’s Chicago book group and Shakespeare class. For many years she and her sister June regularly attended classes at the University of Houston. They also loved the book discussion groups at Emanu-El Synagogue, where Beadie, at 102, would walk in with her home-made brownies.
She fiercely supported her family and encouraged every relative to feel as strongly about the close ties she so cherished. She knew by heart most birthdays, anniversaries and phone numbers. Armed with that data Beadie would urge you to call the person celebrating. Beadie’s ‘urging’ also covered eating her French toast and home-made granola for their proven health benefits; abstaining from salt, sugar, and fat; phoning immediately to thank someone for a gift, card or phone call; and visiting home-bound friends and relatives.
At her 95th birthday celebration in Chicago two hundred fans gathered to hear her extemporaneous words put everyone else’s carefully crafted orations to shame. Many witnessed her being the last one on the dance floor. Her 100-year birthday in Houston was a Standing-Room-Only affair where she was escorted into the room by Liliya, Cove, Aero and Reid, her great-grandchildren. After that party a friend described Beadie as someone we all aspire to be, namely loving, generous, kind, thoughtful, selfless and gracious to all. She spread love around her and inspired love in others. That love was unconditional. Every day she said she was grateful to be grateful. She will remain a legend.
There will be a private interment and a public Memorial Service, honoring and remembering her life, Tuesday 4:30 pm at Congregation Emanu El, 1500 Sunset Blvd. in Houston, with Rabbi Pam Silk and Cantor Rollin Simmons officiating.
View recorded Memorial Service here: