Sonny Goldstein, a longtime community volunteer, died at her home in Elkins Park on Thursday, Nov. 24.
The daughter of Sol and Dora Nathanson, she grew up in Oxford Circle. Her father owned a hardware store on Bustleton Ave., which he named for her.
Sonny Goldstein and her husband, Bennett, were high school sweethearts who were married for 53 years. "I took her to my senior prom at Central High when she was a sophomore," he said. "We married six months after she graduated from Olney High School.
"She was a great mother and raised our sons, Bruce and Carl," said Bennett Goldstein. "Still, she always found time to be at my side as I worked to establish my business," said the president of Goldstein's Rosenberg's Raphael Sacks Inc., Philadelphia area funeral homes. "Sometimes, we would go to four or five dinners and banquets per week because of my business and the charities and organizations in which we were involved."
However, Sonny Goldstein also had her own direction as a volunteer – first being a member and, eventually, ending up in top leadership roles, according to her husband.
Among the many organizations that were the recipients of her time and support was Brith Sholom Women, which helps support the Brith Sholom House, an apartment building for the Jewish elderly in Philadelphia. A president of the organization, she also managed the Brith Sholom Gift Shop for many years.
Sonny Goldstein also joined the Philadelphia Geriatric Center's Auxiliary during the 1980s. Again, she started out helping out at functions and went on to become its president. When the center moved to Horsham and became the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, she continued her volunteerism and managed the gift shop for two years.
Frank Podietz, president and CEO of the Abramson Center, described Sonny Goldstein as a volunteer "devoted to enhancing the quality of life of our elderly residents. She helped to create and cultivate programs that enriched their physical, social and spiritual well-being, as well as those that support our residents' family members. Our residents cherished her as a trusted friend, advocate and a good listener
"Her generosity and loving-kindness touched all our lives," he added, "and we are deeply grateful to have benefited from her many extraordinary gifts."
She was also active in the Jacob K. Sandler Link– Order of the Golden Chain, and became Worthy Matron of the women's masonic organization.
The Goldsteins were recipients of the Brith Sholom Communal Award; PGC's 1992 Family Award presented at their Rainbow Ball; and the Lion of Judah Award from State of Israel Bonds, presented to them at Beth Sholom Congregation in Elkins Park, which they joined in 1971.
Some 1,400 people attended Sonny Goldstein's funeral, including, Gov. Edward Rendell, according to her husband.
There were 35 rabbis in attendance. Rabbi David Glanzberg-Krainin, the religious leader of Beth Sholom, and its rabbi emeritus, Aaron Landes, officiated. Rabbi Fred Kazan, who with his wife, Marian, had known the Goldsteins since high school and had "developed a deep friendship" over the years, delivered the eulogy.
"Sonny was one of the sweetest women I have ever known," said Kazan. "If someone needed a ride to a meeting, she would pick them up. If they weren't feeling well, she would go check on them to see what they needed. Sonny saw to everyone's needs, including always having matzah balls ready in the freezer when her family visited. She was a quiet woman, who had drive and energy, and did what she did because she was a giver – she lived every day as 'A Woman of Valor.' "
Sonny Goldstein is also survived by her sister Pauline Price and and five grandchildren.
Contributions in her memory may be made to the Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life.