Ludmila Batunova Frumin, 85, passed away Sunday, April 7 after a long struggle with diabetes and heart disease. She was a beloved and respected mother, wife, sister, grandmother, mother-in-law, and aunt. She loved life, and none of her ailments stopped her. She was a real fighter, and never gave up.
Ludmila was born on November 14, 1933 in Leningrad, Russia. As a child, she and her widowed mother with 2 other children and a cousin, survived The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade beginning in 1941 and lasting 872 days. During this period of time, the German Army surrounded the city of Leningrad, and it was cut off from the rest of the country. Thousands died from starvation. Ludmila was dying, everyone knew it, someone shared a small part of their butter, and she slowly recovered. This experience had forever marked her life. Most days she talked about her life during World War II, about how the bombs were flying over her head, the sirens announcing the German attacks, people having to eat pets and glu, because there was nothing else to eat, and people put into mass graves. Understandably, she was forever changed. This horrific experience, that no child should go thru, has made her into a tough person with unbreakable character.
Ludmila was very beautiful, and as a young adult she did some ready-to-wear modeling and worked in theater and photography. She met her future husband, Efim Frumin, and they were married in 1958. Thanks to the incredible generosity of Jewish Family Service, and all of the donations by Jews everywhere, they came to Houston in 1974 with their daughter Alla Frumin, as Ludmila studied the English language, and continued to work in photography. In 1977, they lost everything in a fire started 2 blocks away due to the wood shingle roofing allowed at that time. Everyhing was lost. Of all the things, the family photographs and mementos brought from Russia, were the most dear. After the fire, the family of Leon and Peggy Samet of Houston, rendered tremendous help to get the Frumin’s start anew. Their friendship was life-long and cherished by the Frumins.
In the 1980’s Ludmila studied and was certified in Piping and Drafting Design, and worked at Bechtel. Efim, her husband , opened an Art School, where he taught Old Master’s Painting technique. Ludmila was his muse, and hard critic, which elevated his painting to great hights. He painted 4 oil portraits and 1 charcoal of Ludmila. Eventually she became his student, having produced incredible masterworks of her own. Ludmila converted to Judaism in the early 80’s at the Beth Israel Sinagogue in Houston. Efim passed away in 2009, and she did not re-marry.
For the last 27 years, she was working as a receptionist for her son-in-law’s Dental Office, Dr. Tiberiu Riconte.
Her unwavering attitude, and zest for life took her thru nearly 6 years of illness, the last two she spent in a wheel chair, while she put on a brave face and continued to look fashionable. She never seised to amaze family and friends with her culinary skills. A big thank you to her Russian friends, who visited her and gave her hope, her co-workers, her Doctors and nurses, and her neighbors.
She leaves behind her daughter Alla Frumin Riconte, granddaughter Paris Alexandra Riconte, and son-in-law Dr. Tiberiu Riconte.
Contributions in memory of Ludmila Frumin can be made to The Russian Cultural Center in Houston.