WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ted Lerner, who died on Sunday at age 97, was as famously workaholic as he was shy.
So it was a big deal when Washingtonian magazine scored an interview with him in 2007, the year after he assumed ownership of the Nationals, the first baseball team in Washington, D.C., since 1971.
In the interview, Lerner described his 18-hour days building up a real estate empire of malls and other developments that has shaped D.C. and its suburbs. He also mentioned the two things that could pull him away from his work: a ball game, and Jewish holidays.
“I just worked,” he said. “I took off for Jewish holidays and a [football] game or two.” But he said his true love was baseball, a game that brought him back to the days of his youth.
“In Washington in the 1930s, that’s all there was — baseball,” he said.
He recalled that as a teenager, he would aim to sell enough Saturday Night Evening Posts to afford the streetcar to the Senators’ Griffith Stadium (price: 3 cents) and the cheapest ticket (25 cents).
He managed to get a gig as an adolescent usher to watch the 1937 All-Star game at the stadium — “when Dizzy Dean was hit on the foot by a line drive,” he told the magazine. “He was never the same after that.” (The injury effectively ended the legendary pitcher’s career.)
When Major League Baseball decided in 2004 that the Montreal Expos’ new home would be in Washington, he secured meetings with the team’s management for himself and his heirs. His son and two daughters, and their spouses, were his sacrosanct inner circle.
Lerner did not schmooze at Major League Baseball confabs and did not mount a publicity campaign. But his seriousness led him to beat out seven other bids for the Nationals.
The payoff for that decision came in 2015, when the stadium he built to house the team hosted Washington’s first All-Star Game since 1969. Lerner brought a memento to that match: the program of the 1937 All-Star Game, with his notations scribbled in the margins.
One aspect of the job Lerner never got used to was public speaking. His high school yearbook dubbed him “Silent Ted.”
Alongside baseball, Lerner made his name by turning northern Virginia into a locus for shopping. The massive mall complex he built from dairy farms, Tysons Corner, gained international renown.
Lerner died at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland, of complications from pneumonia. He was born and raised in Washington, D.C. to Orthodox Jewish parents. His father immigrated from British Mandatory Palestine, and his mother came from Lithuania. His extensive charitable giving included donations to the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum and his synagogue, Ohr Kodesh.
“I never could have dreamed of owning a baseball team,” he said in 2015, receiving the Urban Land Institute Washington’s lifetime achievement award, when he contrasted his style with that of another famous real estate developer.
“And I never could have imagined over my life that I would build over 20 million square feet of commercial and residential space, and very few people would know my name,” he said. “I guess I have a different approach to real estate development than Donald Trump. And I’m fine with that.”
After he purchased the Nationals, the team continued to grow its local fan base but took years for the team to become a contender. General Manager Jim Bowden explained the strategy to Sports Illustrated in 2012.
“The Lerners made it clear: We’re not in a hurry,” Bowden said. “We want to build this through just like we build our buildings, from the bottom up. We don’t build the penthouse first.”
The strategy paid off. A year after Lerner, age 93, handed his son Mark control of the team in 2018, the Nationals won the World Series.
“There were generations of baseball fans who grew up in D.C. without a team,” Mark Lerner told The New York Times at the time. “Now they have one, and one that won a World Series. To put it into context, my father was born one year after we won the last World Series. That says it all.”
In addition to Mark and his wife, Annette, Lerner is survived by his daughters, Debra Lerner Cohen and Marla Lerner Tanenbaum, nine grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren. His family still owns the team.
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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.
Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary
By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”
Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)
Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station
This is a developing story.
(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.
An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.
Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.
Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.
The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.
The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.
Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.
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