Shirley Davidowitz Brody died at home in Burlington, Massachusetts at the age of 92. She is survived by her husband of 70 years, Sydney W. Brody, her daughters Leslie and Marilyn, her sons-in- law Lance Davidow and Howard Rothberg, her three grandchildren, Jennie, Rachel, and Matthew, her brother-in-law Harold Thropp, and many beloved nieces and nephews.
Shirley was born on August 9, 1925 in the Bronx, New York to Jennie Dym and Louis Davidowitz, Eastern European immigrants, and she had two brothers, Murray and Milton, both deceased. She graduated from James Monroe High School in 1941 at the age of 15, having skipped two grades, and attended Hunter and Queens College. In a high school Hebrew class, she wrote and handed in a book report for Sydney that she knew he would probably not get around to writing, and that, along with her beauty and brains, earned his lifelong love and devotion. For many years she worked as an administrator in the Queensborough Community College Nursing Department, developing close connections with faculty members and students. In her twenties, she worked for Dorothy Norman, a patron of the arts whose circle included Alfred Stieglitz and Georgia O’Keefe, who once told Shirley she wanted to paint her because her golden eyes and hair matched.
Shirley was brilliant, beautiful, quick-witted, compassionate, generous, kind and loving. She had a great sense of humor and loved witticisms, jokes and laughter, quoting Yiddish expressions, writing rhyming poetry, reading, listening to music, travelling, engaging in interesting conversations, baking her delicious honey cake from a recipe handed down from her Mom, and enjoying her friends and family. She had a photographic memory, remembering names, dates, events – long before the age of Google, you could count on her to retrieve information accurately, no matter how long ago it had happened or how trivial it was. She loved to tell stories about her mother Jennie, who had immigrated to this country at the age of 12 by herself. At the end of Jennie’s life, Shirley and Sydney moved her to their home and cared for her.
Shirley’s family and friends always knew they could count on her for advice, compassion, love, an empathic listening ear. If you suffered, she suffered along with you; if you celebrated, she celebrated along with you. She was the go-to person if anyone in the family was sick, researching all the relevant medical treatments and giving herself the honorary degree of AAD – almost a doctor. She kept folders for each of children and grandchildren, stuffed with articles they might find of interest, photos of them, or news of their activities and accomplishments. She was a feminist long before it was popular, encouraging her daughters, nieces, and granddaughters to pursue their aspirations, but this didn’t stop her from also letting them know when she thought they needed haircuts, or new outfits, or reminding them to stand up straighter. She and Sydney travelled widely both here and abroad.
Shirley was beloved by all who knew her, including her many family members; childhood friends from Vyse Avenue in the Bronx; members of the Baron House City College fraternity; friends made at her Queensborough work; long time Deepdale and Florida neighbors; and most recently, her nurses and caregivers: Sheila, who called her “Beautiful”; Jackie, who called her “Mommy”; Marguerita, who called her “Pussycat”; Hope, Phionah, Racheal, Emma, Birungi, and Stella, to whom the family gives their deepest thanks. We will always miss her and she will be in our hearts forever.
If you wish to make a donation in Shirley’s memory, please contribute to Fountain House at 425 W 47th St, New York, NY 10036 <https://www.fountainhouse.org>.