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This page currently contains the following obituaries and eulogies, listed below in the following order:

an obituary for Phil Maher - by Bett Yates Adams

a eulogy for Abe Weitzman - by Michael Wein

an obituary for William Velte - by Lee Asheroff

an obituary for Francesca Todaro - by Bob Wolfe

an obituary for Carmen de Masip - by Ines Roberts

a eulogy for Gerry Wodin- by Lee Asheroff  

an obituary for Gerry Wodin - by Allen McGill

a eulogy for Gerry Wodin -  by Michael Wein

obituary for Gerry Wodin  -   by  Sylvia Rosenthal

obituary for Alejandro Ferretis – by Francesca Fisher

5/7/2012  Philip Maher - by Bett Yates Adams

Philip J. Maher, the elder son of Gladys and Philip Maher of Brooklyn, NY, was born on August 26, 1922. He met his future wife, Muriel Pfeiffer, when they were in kindergarten together; attended a Christian Brothers high school in Brooklyn; and was enrolled as a premed student at Queens College, NY when Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7, 1941.

 

Phil immediately joined the Air Force at age 19 and received initial fighter pilot training at Nashville, TN, Santa Ana, CA, Phoenix, AZ, and Pecos, TX. He served in the Pacific during World War II fighting in the battles of Iwo Jima, The Marianas—Saipan, and Japan. Phil was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, an Air Force Commendation, five Air Medals and, later, the Legion of Merit for work on the U-2 program from 1954-1957 with the CIA.

 

After an illustrious flying career, Phil moved to the technical side of the Air Force from 1946 until 1957. During that time, he worked in Financial Management for the USAF Department of Research and Development, frequently appearing before Congress. His projects included the first ejection seats, experiments with monkeys preliminary to the "man in space" plan, and performance tests documenting the effects of high gravity (50-60 x normal) on the human body in the Human Centrifuge.

 

During this period, Phil was also selected by the Air Force to attend the Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, AL and was sent to the Advanced Management Program at Harvard for specialization in financial management.

 

Leaving the Air Force after 22 years and retiring as colonel, Phil became president of two wholly-owned subsidiaries of the Firewell Company (later Aero Corp) in Buffalo, NY and in Los Angeles, CA. The company produced valves, regulators and reducers for oxygen, nitrogen, hydrogen and helium as both liquids and gases.

 

Phil and Muriel married on August 27, 1945, raising a daughter and a son before moving into the Atasccadero house which became their home for the next 36 years. Phil and Muriel quickly became involved in volunteer work and community activities. Phil taught English at The English School; became president of the Biblioteca Pública [library] three times; treasurer of the Malanquin Golf Club for two terms; president of Club Deportivo [sports club]; gave 20 years of service to El Patronato del Cuerpo de Bomberos de San Miguel de Allende, A. C. [fire department]; was a Founding Member of the Hospital de la Fe and served as president of its Patronato; and was cofounder of the San Miguel Educational Foundation (SMEF) — as well as its president from 1974 to 1996. SMEF, now beginning its 33rd year, is a 501-c-3 charitable organization which allows U. S. citizens to make tax-free donations to local nonprofits and has grown from five sheltered nonprofits to more than 40.

 

In San Miguel, however, "Col. Maher" is best known for and is, in fact, almost synonymous with, the role of United States Consular Agent. After serving as an unpaid consular representative for three years, Phil was appointed Consular Agent in May, 1985 and the San Miguel office was officially opened two months later as the 10th Consular Agency in Mexico at that time. From then until his resignation in January 2006, Phil was the "go-to man" for Americans with questions, visitors and residents alike. Of course, the position of Consular Agent required official duties from visiting Americans in Mexican jails to issuing passports, notarizing papers, and dealing with deaths, accidents, and other mishaps, but when there was a question, almost any question, the typical resident's first thought was to "ask Col. Maher."

 

Phil's death, shortly before Christmas 2006 at the age of 84, leaves San Miguel with the loss of a citizen not only capable of power and commitment, but of concern and humanity. Phil easily bridged the Mexican and American cultures of San Miguel in his own friendships and those activities related to his office and his interests. You could not have lived in the San Miguel of the last 36 years and not have known, or at least have known of, Col. Philip J. Maher.

 

Philip J. Maher is survived by Muriel, his wife of 61 years; by his two children, Kathleen Rasmussen of Ithaca, NY (married to Brian Chabot) and Thomas Maher of Philadelphia, PA (married to Maria), a grandson, Jeffrey Rasmussen of Seattle, WA, and a sister-in-law, Ruth Kieffer of Hilton Head, SC.

4/25/2012   Abe Weitzman - by Michael Wein

I met Abe when I first arrived here in 1993.  But I knew him since the 1940s, if only by reputation and admiration.  It seems that my parents revered him and during the 1948-1952 period every evening (it seemed) my parents would make dinner conversation center around Abe and "Abe Weitzman did this ... today" et cetera.   He appeared to be a god to young me.  And his name sculpted into the stone portion of my still acquiring brain.   

The years passed.  And when I met this "god" in San Miguel, retired as he was now from his practice of law and politics, I discovered him to be a gentle and likeable (and very modest) human being.  We had many discussions on oh so many topics and Abe, knowing so much about so much, was never pretentious nor pompous but just a funny and able communicant on whatever we chose to talk about that day.

He lived up to any expectations that my parents might have set for me and, since some 50 or more years had passed, most certainly passed the hardest test of all, the test of time.  I was very lucky to have finally met Abe and luckier still to get to know him. 

7/15/04   William Velte - by Lee Asheroff

Friends of Luisa Velte and the late Jack Velte are saddened by the news of the untimely death of their son Bill Velte, of Puerta Vallarta. Bill passed away on Saturday, July 10 in San Miguel with his mother and his sister Robin at his side. Our best wishes go to Luisa and Robin at this sad time.

6/22/04       ADIOS, FRANCESCA TODARO   by Bob Wolfe

Francesca Todaro, San Miguel's "Pearl Mesta" and former Director of Public Relations at the Bellas Artes died on June 16, 2004 at the Alma facility in San Miguel. She was 83.

For many years, Francesca was known throughout the community as the gracious hostess of countless cultural events. She was often used as a model at fashion shows and had the looks and style of a movie queen.   Francesca was an important figure in the development of many local 
programs. For example, she was a founder of the Club de Golf Malanquin and the parent land development company, La Mesa; served as President of the San Miguel Kennel Club; and was an early director of the Spanish anguage Department at the Instituto Allende.

Francesca was born in Cuba. Her father was President of the Coca Cola company in pre-Castro times. She was schooled in Georgia and Massachusetts.  She came to San Miguel in the Sixties and quickly established herself as one of the leading figures of the town and will be remembered as a unique personality in San Miguel's history. Francesca leaves a daughter, Theresa and son, Richard (both of Mexico City) as well as grandchildren and great grandchildren.

6/6/04 an obituary for Carmen de Masip - by Ines Roberts

All San Miguel is saddened by the death of Carmen Masip on Monday, May 3rd. .Carmen was Bellas Artes—she was its Director for more years than I can remember, eventually trying to resign to no avail!

She was the founder of San Miguel’s Chamber Music Festival, now in its 26th grand season. She was once youthful and acted in plays…she married war veteran Jim Hawkins and they had a beautiful daughter, Paulina. She and Jim had the first art supply store in San Miguel right on the Jardín (there’s a coffee shop there now). She also founded the Academia Hispano Americana, the very first school in town to specialize in teaching Spanish to foreigners—daughter Paulina runs it now.

Carmen was proud of her Spanish heritage—her father took refuge in Mexico from the Franco government—she never lost her rich Spanish accent and so enjoyed her trips to Spain with Jim.

Carmen loved entertaining and she had a wonderful cook that everyone envied!

Carmen was the essence of San Miguel, that San Miguel that us old-timers revere.

Carmen was always there…and now she isn’t.

Carmen, we will always remember you.  

Copied with permission from The San Miguel Chronicles, Ines Roberts, editor -- for a free subscription, send a blank email to list@thesanmiguelchronicles.com

5/22/04 Gerry Wodin – San Miguel will not be the same without you       by Lee Asheroff  

Far away from home I opened the SMA paper online to catch up with the news from San Miguel and read about the passing of  my dear friend, Gerry Wodin.  

One of a kind, Gerry defied description  Appearing slow moving and calm – she was a dynamo of activity as evidenced by the organizations she founded or worked for along with her husband Bob. The 24 Hour Association, The Playreaders, The Players Workshop, The Shakespeare Readers – all received the benefit of Gerry’s energy. And so did her many friends.  

It was 1982 and we had just arrived in San Miguel when friends asked us to come along to the Chanukah celebration the Wodins held for all comers. We were astounded to see about 50 people in the living room of the Wodin house and were greeted warmly by Gerry and Bob. And this began a friendship that lasted for all these years. The Chanukah party grew each year until over 70 people were crammed into the house each December.

Lupe made hundreds of potato “latkes”, delicious little morsels served at this holiday.  Those of us who had Menorahs (the special candle holders used on this holiday) lit them and we sang songs in the soft  light of the candles. The year I forgot to bring Chanukah candles, Gerry showed me that Posada candles fit  in our Menorah – a nice blending of Jewish and Spanish tradition.  Gerry continued the tradition until the size of the ever growing crowd forced her to stop.  

She played a large part in our San Miguel lives – dinner at her house or ours always a pleasure. Her wry humor at dinner or as she introduced the play readings delighted us. The audience at the Play Readings would await her introduction with as much anticipation as the play itself. And Gerry’s “asides” as she read the announcements never let us down. One year we came across a silver pin with the comedy and tragedy masks of the theatre as we shopped in Tasco.  My husband said – “This is for Gerry” and we brought it home for her. She was so pleased with it that she wore it to every play reading and made sure to show it to me. We are happy that such a simple thing gave her so much pleasure.  

One of my first phone calls when I returned to San Miguel after a visit to the States was always to Gerry  – it will be hard to arrive and not make that call.  

Gerry – you enriched our lives and we will miss you.

 
5/18/04 an obituary for Gerry Wodin - June 25, 1922 - May 13, 2004 - by Allen McGill
Gerry was one of the cornerstones of San Miguel, being active in many community organizations: Patronato de los Niños, Red Cross Ambulance, Player's Workshop, Playreaders, Shakespeare Readers, 24-Hour Association, Outreach, columnist for Atención and active member of the Jewish Community. She was also known as a gracious hostess, with always with an open door and heart, treating everyone as family.

Born of Russian immigrant parents in New York City, the eldest child and only daughter, she was an avid reader and she spent much of her time in the city's libraries and museums. She tried her hand at selling cosmetics while studying theatre - eventually becoming a radio actress. To escape the heat one summer, Gerry worked as drama coach in a Catskill children's camp, where she met the new rabbi, Robert Wodin, whom she married ten years later.

WWII found the couple in the Aleutian Islands, where Bob was stationed. They later moved to New York, where their first child, Bonnie, was born. Another move, to Boston, and daughter Laurie entered the scene.

The Caribbean, Europe, South America, India, Kenya and Mexico were parts of the world they traveled together as their new shoe importing business began to realize some success. One Mexico visit introduced them to San Miguel, to which they moved in 1979. But the sedentary life wasn't for Gerry. She involved herself in every aspect of the at-that-time "primitive" life of the town, determined to enliven the cultural scene.

Gerry was widely recognized and admired for so many things and will be greatly missed. As Father Michael Long said when he'd learned of her passing: "She was like an institution. Institutions age, but somehow you always expect them to be there." She will, in our hearts, memories and the many good works she's left behind in San Miguel.

Surviving her are daughters Bonnie and Laurie, grandchildren Aaron, Sarah and Lissa Ann.
Also, her beloved Lupe Hernandez, who was her closest friend, nurse, daughter, confidant and right-arm strength for so many years. Roberto, Lupe's young son, was the bright new light in Gerry's life.

We will all miss a multi-talented, gracious lady.

5/15/04      a eulogy for Gerry Wodin -  by Michael Wein

Gerry was big, but oh so unimposing and gentle.  She hid well her many many talents.   What you saw first was her genuine helpfulness in every instance that you might come across her.  She was my neighbor, as I lived just a few houses around the corner from her for years.  I saw her on the street, at her salon (really just called the Shakespeare Readers), and at The Playreaders at St. Paul's, where she would hold forth as the normal bi-weekly introducer of that night's play.  She would appear with her yellow pad of notes ("just a few notes before we begin", she would say, and we'd prepare for the normal funny repartee).   A few times (well, most of the time) something did not go according to plans and she would quickly and neatly improvise a witty and useful remark to soothe the ruffles on her high-bred, sophisticated, and demanding (for the 10 pesos that they had paid for their admission) audience.

Her hosting of the bi-weekly (alternating with The Playreaders) Shakespeare Readers was always a joy.  Once again, with genuine softness, she controlled the "situation".   Here, almost everything did go according to plan, except the readings, but that was part of the fun.

I met Gerry, for the first time, shortly after my arrival in SMA.   I registered with the 24-Hour Association and Gerry, again most gently, because death was not my favorite plan, led me through the process.  With Gerry at the helm, now I was prepared "to go". 

And I remember seeing Gerry during my own recuperation from spinal surgery.  Walking towards each other in opposite directions, both of us having difficulty walking, we greeted each other with everyday hellos of "How are you?" and "Fine" and then we both laughed out loud as obviously "Fine" was not the right answer for either of us.

Oh, Gerry, I will think of you from time to time and a smile will always come to my face as I remember so many lovely things about you.   Rest in peace.

5/13/04   -   obituary for GERRY WODIN  -   A goodbye to a dear friend from Sylvia Rosenthal

San Miguel lost one of its great ladies today.  She was involved -more than involved--she was the president of all three of the longest lived theater organizations in San Miguel.

And she truly was The Shakespeare Readers.   Every bit of information about The Shakespeare Readers in my piece (click on non-profit organizations) came from meetings with Gerry and reading the records she kept.  We met at her house-Jesus 52.   We even met at Jesus 52 when Gerry was out of town.  She kept all the records.  She stored all the volumes from which we read.  She saw to it that there was always tea and coffee ready for our parched throats at break time.  When the cookie person reneged for some reason, Gerry always found a little something in her kitchen to fill in the emptiness.

But how will we fill in the emptiness now?

5/8/04 obituary  for   Alejandro Ferretis – by Francesca Fisher

Alejandro was a deeply intellectual and reflective man, and struck me as unusually sophisticated in his appreciation for culture and philosophy. 

He was a rare, passionate and complex individual  which he so intuitively portrayed in his memorable performance in the film “Japon”.  

Objectives of this page:  to present the residents of this town with a place to record their thoughts regarding those who lived amongst us but who are no longer with us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Underpromise and Overdeliver”

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