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Benefactor Mildred Lasch Dies at Age 93

May 11, 2006 By:
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Mildred Lasch
Mildred Lasch, 93, of Philadelphia, died April 12.

Born Mildred Goldberg, she was a life-long resident of the Philadelphia area. She was married for almost 60 years to Louis Lasch, who died in 1995.

Devoted to her family, Lasch is remembered for her elegance, grace and generosity. She is also recalled by her family as a winning golfer at Meadowlands Country Club, as well as an avid sports fan.

"Penn State's football team was my grandmother's favorite," said grandson Kenneth Smuk-ler. "My grandparents were good friends of Joe Paterno and his wife Sue. A few years ago, a friend and I took Nana to a Penn State football game, and Minnesota was kicking them up and down the field. With a few minutes left in the game, Minnesota turned over the ball - and Penn State won."

At the Paterno's house after the game, I told him: 'Coach, that was one heck of a game.' He replied, 'We had to win. What was I going to tell Mildred if we lost.'

"And wherever she was," added Kenneth Smukler, "my grandmother's clothes were impeccable, her hair and jewelry perfect. This was in no way trivial to her. For Nana, it was a sign of self-worth, self-respect and dignity."

Along with sharing a love of sports with her family, grand-son Andrew Smukler recalls his grandmother cooking his favorite meals and never being anything but 100 percent kind, even when he was, as he admitted, "a bratty teenager."

Many years later, when Lasch was 83, he told his grandmother that she had come into wealth of her own after the death of her husband.

"I told her that for tax purposes that the best thing to do would be to give most of it away to her family and to charity," said Andrew Smukler. "Before I could go into details," she smiled and asked, 'What would I do with it anyway?' "

Lasch chose to give most of her money to charity through the Smukler-Lasch Family Foundation, which is administered by the Federation Endowments Corporation. Money from the foundation has benefited Federation, the Jewish Community Centers - where she served on the board - and other Jewish organizations. Lasch also supported Penn State, the Kimmel Center, Prince Theater and the Philadelphia Zoo.

"Mildred Lasch was a very private and giving woman," said her attorney, Philip Shiekman.

"She was immediately responsive when Connie or Joe [son-in-law Joseph Smukler, a past president of Federation] or Cindy [their daughter] came to her with a project or program. She was proud of them and what they did and felt good about giving."

Granddaughter Cindy Smukler Dorani remembered Wednesday lunches with her mother, Connie - Lasch's only child - and her grandmother to discuss the week's events. "Even when Nana wasn't feeling well toward the end, she continued to listen with a smile," she said.

The three generations also shared the honor of wearing Lion of Judah pins, presented to those who give a gift of $5,000 or more to the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia's annual campaign through Women's Philanthropy.

Lasch, who resided in Center City, perpetuated her gift to the campaign through a Lion of Judah Endowment.

The three Lasch grandchildren eulogized their grandmother at her funeral, as did the oldest of her nine great-grandchildren, 15-year-old Shoval Dorani.

"To have known our great grandmother is a true blessing," she said. "There was no end to her generosity and kindness."

Contributions in her memory may be made to: the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, 2100 Arch St., Philadelphia PA 19103.

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