Through the years, Annabel Lindy never wanted her name attached to any of the numerous communal initiatives she was involved in, even though she left her fingerprints across the spectrum of Jewish life in Philadelphia.
Lindy died of cancer Feb. 16, and in her 78 years, she helped establish and support a number of Jewish institutions throughout the area.
Chief among those were the Collaborative — a networking group for Jews in their 20s and 30s — and LimmudPhilly, an annual Jewish-education program that in 2009, the program's first year here, attracted more than 650 people.
"She was kind of a surrogate grandmother to me," said Ross Berkowitz, executive director of both groups.
He said that Lindy, whose friends often called her "Rusty" on account of her red hair, "understood that each generation has to make their own way and create for themselves.
"She wasn't caught up in 'My generation did it the right way,' " said Berkowitz.
Growing up near Warminster, she was the only Jewish student at her high school, and her son Frank said that the experience had a vital impact on her.
"She had a feeling of isolation," he said, "and I think that did have a lasting impression on her and a desire to build Jewish community through her life."
Many described her as a no-nonsense woman who wanted to get things done. Berkowitz recalled her attitude a few years ago after returning home from a trip to Europe, having seen Limmud in Germany.
He said she told him: "If they can do it in Germany, we can do it in Philly. Make it happen."
That attitude was echoed by Andrea Adelman, chief community-development officer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and a close friend of Lindy's.
She called Lindy a woman "ahead of her times," who was smart, creative and who thought outside of the box.
Adelman said that her friend was not afraid to challenge the rules — "not just for challenging them, but to create something better."
Lindy attended Beaver College (now Arcadia University) as a chemistry major. At age 20, she married Philip Lindy, her partner of 58 years, and during her career she worked as a Merrill Lynch stockbroker and helped develop Lindy Property Management, among other things.
She is survived by her husband; daughter Elaine; sons Alan and Frank; a sister, Ruth Bergman; and eight grandchildren.
Funeral services were scheduled to be held on Feb. 19 at Joseph Levine & Sons in Trevose, followed by burial at Roosevelt Memorial Park.
Contributions in her honor can be directed to the Collaborative, Limmud or the Gershman Y — three organizations she was dedicated to helping.
She also supported Or Hadash: A Reconstructionist Congregation in Fort Washington, the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Federation Housing and other Jewish entities.
Berkowitz said that part of Lindy's inspiration for the numerous projects she helped create came from "looking at her family and saying, 'This is what they didn't have; this is what they were missing when they were growing up.' She wanted to make sure it existed in the community for other people."