Isaac Stern’s widow, Vera, has diedmain
Message to the music community from the conductor, Michael Stern, dated July 22:
Please forgive this mass but practical modern means of communication. With sadness, Shira, David, and I are sorry to let you know you that our mother Vera died this afternoon at 12:05pm, after a prolonged period of failing health, ten days after we celebrated her 88th birthday together. We escorted her for the last time out of the Beresford, the building which she called home for the last 60 years. She left this earth just as she had inhabited it, on her terms. To the end, she showed the strength, resiliency, grace, and character that defined her, always. She took her last breath listening to music, surrounded by people who loved her and cared for her, in her own home. Thanks to extraordinarily expert and loving hospice care, she was free of pain and any fear. In recent years she had faced her health challenges with elegance, fortitude, and a stubborn refusal to submit, and she defied again and again every dire medical prediction. To so many of you whose paths crossed with hers in this life, there was no doubt that she left an indelible mark. In her conversation and sentiment it was very clear to all of us, as she faced this final chapter, that her thoughts returned to her husband of 43 years, our dad Isaac. Despite their divorce, with all of that life history, it was indisputably evident that she loved him. Today would have been his 95th birthday.
She was a steadfast friend to so many of you, a staunch advocate of good causes, a generous benefactor, and a tireless lifetime volunteer. Her lifelong love of music inspired her devotion to so many musicians, those from the past who informed her rich and wonderful life, as well as the young ones whom she admired so much. Her life reflected her remarkable journey — from her origins that were Russian in character and disposition, she moved from the Berlin of her birth, through her escape through Switzerland to Paris, then to Stockholm, then back to Paris before settling in the United States. She made aliyah to Israel in 1951 only to return to New York half a year later after her seventeen day courtship to our father. Immersed in her new life, she enthusiastically began her immense impact on the musical life of this city and Israel.
Her extraordinary energy was focused on her work for Israel Bonds, L’École Française (later The Fleming School), the America-Israel Cultural Foundation, the Musicians Foundation, and so many others. Her most gratifying and continuing legacy was as the organizational and energizing co-pilot with Isaac in saving Carnegie Hall from destruction in 1960.
But of all her achievements in her accomplished and distinguished life, perhaps the greatest one was in her role as the matriarch of our family. She was the anchor, the epicenter, the protector, and the guiding spirit for her all of us. At the core, she had an incontrovertible, unwavering, and fierce love for us all. Her parents, Michael and Esfir, and her sister Meri Lind, predeceased her, as did our father Isaac, in 2001. But her spirit will continue to touch us all: Shira, with Don, Noah and Ronni Jane, Ari, and Eytan; Michael, with Shelly, Hannon and Nora; David, with Katta, Sophia, and Talia; and her nephew Gregor and her niece Mika, with Samuel.
Services will be held at 11am on Thursday, July 23, 2015, at the Stephen Wise Free Synagogue, 30 W. 68th Street (just off Central Park West). For those wishing to attend, we ask that you arrive at 10:45am for a prompt start at 11am. … In lieu of flowers, we ask that you consider a contribution to a charity of your choice which reflects your love and memory of Vera.