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Greta “Gretel” Kleeblatt

Greta “Gretel” Kleeblatt

Female 1910 - 1990  (79 years)

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  • Name Greta “Gretel” Kleeblatt 
    Born 28 Jun 1910  Frankfurt, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Gender Female 
    Biography Eulogy Delivered by Richard Gray
    (Gretel Sara Kleeblatt) On April 18, 1990

    I would like to share with you a memory of Greta Gray. Much of my insight and knowledge into my mother's background and strength came just in the past few years as her grandchildren asked questions for school projects and it became safe to talk about her escape from the Nazis. My wife Lillian and my daughters Rebecca and Jessica and Uncle Hans helped put this memory together.

    Greta Kleeblatt was born in Frankfurt, Germany on June 28, 1910, the first child of Heinrich Kleeblatt and Marie Mayerfeld, and older sister of Hans. Their's was a comfortable home. Greta was an avid tennis player. She became fluent in French after spending a year in school in Luzerne, Switzerland.

    As life became ugly for Jews in Germany under the Nazis, she and Hans applied for US immigration visas.

    Her strong will and self-determination showed up during these years. She told one story of this time: When the Nazis were taking the jewelry of the Jews, she protested by throwing her gold watch into the sewer.

    When brother Hans was put into a concentration camp in 1939 and his visa came through, Greta bravely took the train from Frankfurt to Stutgart to the camp, argued effectively and obtained his release. Hans left for America within days.

    Six months later Greta went to England as a tutor where a family friend, an executive of the electric company, could watch over her. In 1940, as the war spread to England she also obtained a visa to America. This was through a cousin Jennie Kleeblatt, who brought many relations to America with the assistance of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society. The connection brought them a long friendship with Jennie Kleeblatt's family in New York...Mel and Claire Goldberg.

    Mother's fluency in French allowed her to obtain a job in New York in a millinery shop where she learned how to make and decorate hats with a French touch. She lived with Hans in New York where he was starting his career in photography.

    Later she and Hans (Kent) went by bus to Miami, Florida, then a small city. She met Walter Gray (Grafenberg), a photographer who had come from Goettingen, Germany at his photo concession in Richards Dept Store.

    She worked with him opening a store called Pronto Photo on Washington Ave and learned to color black and white portraits.

    Walter was drafted into the army. They married in St. Louis in 1942 enroute to his first assignment in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Here they made a life long friendship with Jack Fleisher.

    I was born in Sioux Falls towards the end of the war. Dad was transported back to Miami and Mom and I had to get back on our own. That trip again showed her strong will and determination.

    I'm told we came back on a very difficult flight, with many stops, snowstorms and not enough milk or diapers for me.

    We settled in Hollywood. They first worked at the Hollywood Beach Hotel and then got a photo store of their own. Mother moved behind the scenes to make our home. They along with several of you were founders of Temple Beth Shalom at its many sites..first off of Tyler Street, then onto Monroe Street and finally, Hollywood Hills.

    They were active in Temple life with their friends the Solomon families, the Ansels, the Steyers, the Salters and the Abrams just to name a few. They were members of the Parents League and on the bowling team.

    Later in their association with Temple Beth Shalom they became more associated with the leadership of the Temple through their close friendships with Curt and Amelia Schleimer.

    I was provided a supportive home, including supports in school, boy scouts, a Jewish Education and mothers ubiquitous common sense.

    They traveled al ot. First they took me to see the USA, then to Mexico and Europe. Mother and Dad were active in Hollywood and the Sister City program with San Salvador, El Salvador. She supported Dad in his many community activities where they made many special friends.

    I went off to MIT leaving behind the WALTER GRAY PHOTORAMA and our home on Jefferson Street.

    One insight into my mother's style of mothering can be seen in this story: When I came home with long hair one year to my surprise mother welcomed me warmly and then the next day asked if I would be happier with a haircut.

    After Dad retired they began their era of exotic trips. Through their shadow travel agency, Gold Coast Tours. They managed to take a few boat cruises and trips each year...taking many of you along.

    Mom loved being fussed over in the dining-room, playing nickel slot machines and bingo. In between cruises they went on longer trips to every continent. During this time they renewed their friendships with cousins Lothar and Claire Michaelis.

    Dad used to tell the story of a trip to the Upper Amazon River. On one particular side trip the guide had to threaten Greta with the poison blow darts of the natives in order to get her aboard a little dug-out canoe. After that experience she did more careful studies of what each trip entailed.

    She became a loving mother-in-law to Lillian. Yearly Mom and Dad came to Boston to be with us for the Jewish Holidays. They would stay from Rosh Hashanah through Simchas Torah, take a few boat cruises and adventure trips in the cold months and return to Boston for Passover and the greater part of August on Cape Cod.

    During these long visits Mom stayed on good terms with Lillian by always helping Lillian and Lillian's special mother Henrietta Weiner with the cooking even though she did not enjoy cooking in the least.

    Then the grandchildren came. First Rebecca and then Jessica. My parents moved from their home in Hollywood to the Arlen House in North Miami so their granddaughters could have a pool and the ocean beach to use on their visits.

    The girls remember Nana for all the Polly Flinders dresses she provided on each birthday, holiday or visit. They will always recall how sensible she was...demanding that no one leave the house winter or summer without presenting at least one sweater. Then she would carry an arm load of extra sweaters and scarfs just in case. Her sweaters were sized 4 to 10 depending on which layer you were referring to.

    Mother was always proud of her granddaughters every achievement and she was always sensitive to their needs for pampering and independence.

    At Arlen House she and Dad were active in the social club and made new special fiends, including Annette and Able Urich and Barbara Weil, Lillian's Aunt Mae Weiner became an important part of their family as well. Mom became active in ORT and Hadassah.

    After Dad died in 1986, mother faced widowed life with the strong will and determination she always had within herself.

    She sought out people to go on cruises with her, and developed a network of friends in the Arlen House for canasta games. The nightly card games became an important part of her new life.

    This past year... since August...she started failing. She knew she was gravely ill. She fought to maintain her quality of life. Greta Gray died in her bed at home early Sunday morning, April 15, 1990.

    She was determined to be at home to the end and her friends were very supportive. She played cards with them up until the last weeks of her life and even entertained her oldest granddaughter and friend on the spring break visit just 3 weeks ago.

    Our family and you her friends have wonderful warm memories of Greta that will comfort us and give us strength as we carry on.

    Heinrich and Marie were in the bed linen business in Frankfurt. The firm's name was S. Mayerfeld named after Marie's father. Heinrich came from a rural farmaing community, Seligenstadt. Marie was raised in Frankfurt.

    As Greta was a tennis player so Hans played hockey. They had to leave a prominent Frankfurt club during the rise of Hitler and could play only in the Jewish club. 
    Hebrew Birth 21 Siv 5670 
    Residence 1910-1939  Frankfurt, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Immigration 12 Mar 1940  New York, NY, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  [1
    Residence 1942-1990  Hollywood, FL, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Hebrew Death 20 Nis 5750 
    Died 15 Apr 1990  Hollywood, FL, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
    Person ID I2300  Blank Family
    Last Modified 12 Jun 2009 

    Father Heinrich Kleeblatt,   b. 4 Jan 1877, Seligenstadt, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 1942, Lodz Ghetto Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 64 years) 
    Mother Marie Mayerfeld,   b. 2 Aug 1885, Frankfurt, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. Abt 1942, Lodz Ghetto Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 56 years) 
    Married Yes - date unknown 
    Family ID F1366  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

    Family Walter N. Gray,   b. 21 Feb 1907, Goettingen, Germany Find all individuals with events at this location,   d. 1 Aug 1986, Hollywood, FL, USA Find all individuals with events at this location  (Age 79 years) 
    Married 28 Jul 1942  Miami, FL, USA Find all individuals with events at this location 
     1. Living
    Family ID F980  Group Sheet  |  Family Chart

  • Event Map
    Link to Google MapsBorn - 28 Jun 1910 - Frankfurt, Germany Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1910-1939 - Frankfurt, Germany Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsImmigration - 12 Mar 1940 - New York, NY, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsMarried - 28 Jul 1942 - Miami, FL, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsResidence - 1942-1990 - Hollywood, FL, USA Link to Google Earth
    Link to Google MapsDied - 15 Apr 1990 - Hollywood, FL, USA Link to Google Earth
     = Link to Google Earth 
    Pin Legend  : Address       : Location       : City/Town       : County/Shire       : State/Province       : Country       : Not Set

  • Photos
    Greta Gray
    Greta Gray

    German Passport Greta Kleeblatt
    German Passport Greta Kleeblatt

  • Sources 
    1. [S171] New York Passenger Lists, 1820-1957 , Ancestry, S.S. Westernland.

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