November 16, 2007

Another great Jewish role model: Priscilla Strauss, 93; helped lead Jewish charity

My wish is to live up to the same calibre of excellence as Priscilla Strauss, blessed be her memory: Via The Globe:

While hiking on Mount Washington when she was 18, Priscilla (Wallace) Strauss found an injured man lying on a ledge near the summit.

Constantly reminding herself "God is with me," the teenager raced down the mountain, found help, and saved the man's life, her daughter said.

A talented athlete, Mrs. Strauss would climb the mountain, the tallest in New England, 13 times in all; a lifelong volunteer, she would come to the aid of people in trouble countless times, her family said.

Mrs. Strauss died Sunday in Canton of pancreatic cancer. She was 93 and had previously lived in Brookline and Wellesley.

"People adored her and came to her for advice," said her daughter, Ginny MacDowell of Wayland. "She was honest and up-front. She was like a wonderful old sage."

Born in Brookline, Mrs. Strauss was a longtime member of Temple Israel in Boston and was a leader in the Youth Division of the Combined Jewish Philanthropies, later becoming the youngest president of the Women's Division.

When her family was struck with tragedy in 1963 with the death of her son, Ferdinand "Randy," Mrs. Strauss and her husband, Bob, donated a playground and a playroom in his honor at Children's Hospital.

Mrs. Strauss was an avid athlete. She played tennis and had started taking golf lessons last summer.

"She was an incredible athlete. She played doubles in tennis until she was diagnosed with cancer; her partners were women in their 40s and 50s," her daughter said.

Her athletic endeavors stretched beyond mountains and the tennis courts.

When the Rivers School in Weston began admitting girls in 1989, Mrs. Strauss endowed the school with an athletic award. The award is given to a female student who excels in at least three sports.

In addition to her daughter, Ginny, Mrs. Strauss leaves another daughter Babette Kinney of Moultonborough, N.H.; a brother, Edward Wallace of Longmeadow; and a sister, Carolyn Darack of Canton; eight grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren.