Eva Dorf - Feb 12, 1914 - Aug 5, 2007

Eva Dorf Eulogies
Tuesday Aug 7, 2007

Josh Dorf
Julie Dorf

Hello, I am Joshua Dorf, one of the 9 grandchildren of Eva Dorf. On the flight to Milwaukee last night so many memories came rushing to my mind. I realized I could probably go on and on about the many great experiences she and I shared, but I will try to be concise.

While I certainly feel sad at the loss of my Grandmother, I am also incredibly proud to stand here and celebrate her life and the great times we spent together. Eva Dorf was a Grandmother extraordinaire! Whether we're talking gefilte fish or kreplach making, or bridge and poker playing or knitting or the Brewers or a movie or book or one of her many other skills, she participated fully in life.

For the Dorf's, she was the family matriarch - holding everyone in the family together with her desire for a strong and close family. Whether for the Jewish holidays or the many American holidays, she wanted us to spend those days together - as a family. She knew we all are very different but yet we share so much and no matter what we were a family.

She was fiercely proud of the Dorf Family and every achievement and milestone. She literally didn't miss any life event - and this continued with her many great grandchildren. At many of these occasions, Grandma would stand up at just the right appropriate time and would unfold a typed out note with her "speech." Sometimes she would rhyme the verses and other times they were more free form. But they always had the message of family - and the importance of being together.

She was proud of her heritage and our Jewish background, but she also took much pride in being a patriotic American. Thanksgiving will probably be the holiday where I will think of her most. It was so important for her to use that holiday of thanks to take stock of our good fortunes and to say thanks as a group.

One of the many special things that I had with her related to her use of the computer. I often joked about it and sometimes maybe even complained about it - but I am so very proud of it too. My 90+-year old grandmother sends me e-mail. She's even once e-mailed me a photo of gefilte fish she was making with her cell phone. She took to this new technology and ultimately to the Internet and e-mail with a real zeal.

When she got her first computer I remember working with her on it and realizing how different our upbringings were. Even though her preference was a good solid electric typewriter she was determined to learn how to use the computer. She knew that it was the future and she wanted to be a part of our lives in this new future. She was right - learning at her late age how to use a computer kept her active in her grandchildren's lives as they spread across the country and world. It wasn't easy for her - in the beginning I struggled to explain why you couldn't use an L for a one and an O for a zero, like she did with her trusty typewriter. But boy did she pick it up and she became a real e-mail maven.

Her e-mails initially started like a replacement for traditional letter writing - long winded letters asking lots of questions and relaying small details of her and Grandpa's daily life. But they ultimately evolved - like all of us - into more concise quick messages delivered speedily over the Internet to pass on some specific piece of information. Sometimes she would insist on using ALL-CAPS or forward silly spam, but it didn't matter - she was online and part of this new world. Even when the message was simply a forward, whenever I would see that message from her - even ones that had been forwarded countless times - I smiled and felt connected to her inside.

And I know everyone here at one point or multiple times a year received one of her custom cards she would make. She took to making her own cards on a computer like a fish to water. I'm still not sure if she thought she was saving money or just really enjoyed it, but I know she put in dent in Hallmark sales. Believe it or not, only a few short weeks ago I was online looking for an updated version of her favorite card-making program because she asked me to see if there might be something new for her.

I will miss her cards and e-mails. I will miss her small notes and speeches. I will miss her showing me how to make gefilte fish. I will miss sitting and simply engaging in small talk. I will miss her.

Lately I've found myself saying that I feel "blessed" to have the family and friends that I do in my life. This term "blessed" is not something I'm entirely comfortable with personally but I can't find another word to describe how fortunate and lucky I feel. My Grandmother and together her and my Grandfather, were great examples of how to be meaningful, significant and special Grandparents.

Eva and Sol were so special in all our lives - I treasured them and know all of us will miss both of them forever. Thank you Grandma for all you did in our lives.


When my Grandfather died five years ago, it was the first time our very blessed family had experienced a death in our own family. With 94 years of a fabulously full life, and a man who had slowed down, thinned out, and was beginning to lose his faculties, we could all feel our loss and our sadness, but also our contentment about his incredible life, and his near-perfect death – with one bad day, in his own bed, in no pain, and surrounded by family. Five of the great-grandchildren who were born after Sol died were named in his honor--my daughter Sylvie (who got his sense of humor), Elan Soloman, Scott, Justin Scott, and Sophia. We think of him regularly and know he lives on in each of us. But somehow accepting the loss of Grandpa Sol was made easier because we still had Grandma Eva.

Today, it’s a little different.

For the first time in 72 years, my father is no longer a child. The 16 great-grandchildren are simply grandchildren. My brothers, cousins, and I will now watch our parents age in a different way.

It felt greedy of me flying home on Saturday wanting so much for my grandmother to keep living and to be able to have one more visit with her. I only have a couple of friends with grandparents alive at all. Not to mention a driving 93-year old who sends regular email, can critique current movies, hadn’t lost a single bit of her memory, and keeps up two homes! How could we possibly be prepared for her to die? She was so alive.

A few days ago my grandmother got upset with a doctor on duty who asked her if she wanted to live or die. She responded, “What kind of question is that? Of course I want to live – I’ve got very interesting grandchildren and great-grandchildren to watch grow up!” My mother told me how when Greg and Sam came to visit, her blood pressure, which was dangerously low, went up and her face regained color. The nurse who was with her at the end described how right before she died, she went into a strange kind of dream state, swinging her arms in the air. My grandmother literally fought for her life until the very end-- for as long as her body could comply with her very strong will.

My Grandma and I were very different kinds of women, with two generations separating us, but Eva found a way of understanding our differences and forging closeness. And she did that with each of the people in her life—(as is evidence today with all the people who have shown up, not to mention all of those who didn’t make it to 93!). But her grandchildren (and our spouses) felt particularly close to her. She had a way of making each of us feel like her favorite—and we each were her favorite.

This dress I’m wearing was hand crocheted by Grandma in the 1950’s, when she wore it dancing with my grandfather. She gave it to me after Sol died and we were going through closets. I even have a ball of the original silk ribbon in case I need it for repairs! Grandma Eva taught me to knit when I was in high school and taught my daughter Hazel to knit last summer, which provoked me to re-start this wonderful hobby. I now knit at meetings and conferences, which for my very fast-paced and full life, is incredibly relaxing. I now think that knitting and needlepoint were part of her secret to living so long since keeping your heart healthy is not just about exercise, but also about keeping stress down. Thankfully she shared those loves with many of us.

And on the cholesterol side of that conversation, she did eat well and always said they ate 3 square meals a day with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. But on the holidays, we indulged. Thankfully, Grandma shared with us another life-long gift--that of cooking. We even have a two-part video with Grandma teaching us to make kreplach and gefilte fish. Last Pesach was the first time she didn’t make the gefilte herself, but gave the instructions to my brother from the corner of the room. Barbara makes her Swedish meatballs, and I know I’ll have kreplach in my chicken soup this Rosh Hashanah.

But most importantly, Grandma Eva never failed to remind us about the centrality of family. I’ll never forget at a Thanksgiving years ago when we all gathered in Florida together, she brought all the grandchildren together and commanded the women in the room to ensure more procreation of Dorfs. And apparently we listened. She loved gathering her entire clan together – and was well deservedly proud. She stayed connected in whichever ways possible, and we were particularly proud of our technology savvy grandmother who sent at least weekly emails.

Family was not only important in terms of quantity, but in quality as well. As a young adult, grandma regularly made sure that I fully understood the impact of my actions on my parents and eventually helped me learn to show more concern and respect for my parents. While she was not immune to use of the stereotypic Jewish mother guilt trip (anyone who had one of her “I’m disappointed in you” conversations—knows what I’m talking about), she always said what she needed to say with love, choosing her words carefully. As a spouse, she was “the perfect wife” as my Uncles said yesterday. They were an incredible model of a love relationship--full of fun and hard work. We all can only wish for such a long-lasting, genuine union. And for the past 4 1/2 years, my grandmother became extremely close with her female friends in Florida – Ida, Ellie and XXX. Showing us all her abundant capacity for friendship and companionship.

Lenny Loeb once said to Jenni and I, when we were considering whether to have a second child, that at on our deathbeds, we won’t be thinking about what we accomplished in our careers, but how proud we feel about our family. With her family of 39 people here today all loving and appreciating her, Eva is indeed very proud.

And her memory will indeed be a blessing to us.

Grandma, thank you for everything you’ve given me throughout my life. I will treasure you always.