Ida Eisenbaum died peacefully on May 24, 2018 at the age of 94.
Ida was born in Suwalki Poland in April 1924-the youngest of ten children to David and Rifka Wladyslawowski. Her name was Hinda which she changed to Ida when she emigrated to the US. Ida was a Holocaust survivor whose perilous journey went from escaping Poland after the German invasion to being arrested in Lithuania to being sent to a Siberian labor camp. She and her family survived and in 1945 the war ended and Ida and her family were released and ended up in a refugee camp in Germany.
While in Germany she met a shy thin young man, Jacob Eisenbaum, who asked her out for coffee. Another coffee date followed and after that date Jacob asked her to marry him. Ida ran home to tell her mother. Her mother’s surprise response was “If you like him, marry him”.
They were married in August 1947 and emigrated to the US in 1949.
They made it to Houston where Jacob had a job waiting for him at Phil Rich Fan Company.
He worked hard making money and she worked hard making babies.
Solomon was born in 1950 and David was born in 1952.
With two boys Ida wanted a girl. Jacob, scared of the financial responsibility, said their family was complete. Ida won. Pregnant in late 1954 she came home from the doctor with more news: two heartbeats. His response: “Now look what you have done to me!!!” She laughed that off. As usual she was confident that they could do anything.
Benjamin and Celine were born in 1955. Ida got her girl with an extra boy thrown in. Jacob made $36 a week and Ida was able to stretch that $36 into a good life for all.
But Ida always wanted to start a business and she had to convince Jacob that they could take the risk starting a business.
Two apartment duplexes were purchased and one duplex was later converted into the Jacob’s Fan Company building. With the expertise of close family friend Albert Ross, the company started to manufacture residential electric fans. Business went well after early struggles. So well that additional businesses followed: A bar, a nightclub, washateria, and a small motel. Mom spent her children’s school hours at Jacob’s Fan Company doing everything from the bookkeeping, sales, to even doing manual fan parts labor. She was always the driving force to whatever business ventures they tried. She worked from 6AM to 9PM taking care of children, home, meals, and business with unmatched energy. Mom took pride in taking care of the family and in all that she and Jacob had accomplished.
She found time to cook and she was a fabulous cook. Jacob showed his fan products at the Dallas Furniture Market every year and his business associates waited every year for Ida’s famous congo squares that Jacob shared with them. Her delicious graham cracker cheese cakes were an anticipated gift whenever they went to a party or gathering. Made from scratch gefilte fish, large fluffy kreplach, fabulous egg topped chopped liver, deep fried chicken and french fries, moist pineapple upside down cake – the list goes on and on.
But Jacob was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease at 53. Now Ida had to take on an new role. She had to be a nurse for Jacob which became even more difficult as the disease progressed over the years. But she never complained and she cared for him with love and a smile.
The family expanded.
First came daughters in law Ladonna, Rhonda, and Barbara. Next came grandchildren Havva, Elaine, Laura, Jeffrey and Kevin. Ida worried that Celine was being left out but then along came Richard Stetzer. And then Rebecca was born and she was named for Ida’s mother Rifka.
Jacob and Ida were very proud of their grandchildren and enjoyed being with them especially at family holidays like Passover and Thanksgiving. Even though Jacob could not attend any of his grandchildren’s Bar or Bat Mitzvahs, Ida had a huge sense of pride and happiness.
Jacob died in 1993 and dementia slowed Ida down soon afterwards. But it did not slow her love for her family or for America or for Judaism. She loudly and proudly sang patriotic songs. She loved the USA and she told anyone who would listen that it is the best country in the world. She loved Jewish rituals and traditions and enjoyed going to the synagogue every Saturday with Ben singing with emotion.
In lieu of flowers, please make a donation to Holocaust Museum Houston or Congregation Beth Yeshurun