Doris Levinson Balin, 85, passed away peacefully early Thursday morning at her home in Long Beach, CA surrounded by her loving family. She was born in Philadelphia to Rose and Martin Levinson. For 38 years she was happily married to Howard Balin, a noted physician, who predeceased her in 1988.
Doris will be lovingly remembered for her kind heart and gracious hospitality. For the past quarter century she devoted her life to volunteerism, serving at the American Cancer Society Discovery Shop and Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.
She is survived by her children: Marianne Balin, Susan Balin-Peterson, Jane Balin, Robert Balin, their spouses and partners, her sister Florence Vallen, her sister-in-law Ruth Schwartz, 9 grandchildren and many more who loved her dearly.
Funeral services will be held this Sunday at 10:30 AM at the Lamb Funeral Home, 101 Byberry Rd, Huntingdon Valley, PA. Her internment will be in Shalom Memorial Park. Following services, friends may pay Shiva calls at the home of Ruth Schwartz, 1165 Huntingdon Pike, Huntingdon Valley, on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Jewish Children and Family Services of Long Beach, CA.
Eulogy for Doris Balin (November 18, 2012)
On Thursday morning our mother Doris slipped peacefully from this world. Long Beach Harbor was thick with mist that morning, and a solitary fog bell in the channel tolled a slow, muffled dirge--as though the very elements were paying tribute, not in sorrow, but in quiet honor of a life well-lived.
Our mother was a remarkable person. A self taught woman whose formal education stopped at high school; but who every day whizzed through the Times crossword--and if I might add with a bit of familial pride, she did it in pen. A child of depression-era Philly, she would go on to travel the world with her husband and children, to cross the Khyber Pass, dine in Taipei and Istanbul, even pet the royal lion cubs of Emperor Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa. And for the past quarter century since our father's death from cancer, our mother Doris quietly devoted herself to volunteer work: First at the gift shop serving the very hospital where her husband passed away, then at the American Cancer Society Discovery Store--working the cash register, stocking the store, reveling in every day interactions with people, never asking what was in it for her.
And this unique combination of qualities-worldliness and sophistication combined with a kind heart, a gentle soul and a genuine compassion for others-were what made Doris Balin, Doris Balin. Since my mother's passing, we have been flooded with well wishes and remembrances of Doris. And almost invariably they mention our mother's elegance, her kindness and unfailing graciousness. Doris had a wonderful sense of style-which, to my knowledge, deserted her only once. During the sixties, my mother-caught up in the fashion craze-dressed her poor 10-year old son in a succession of Nehru jackets, peace symbol belt buckles, and even an electric yellow neckerchief for my performance of Are You Going to Scarborough Fair at Cedar Road Elementary School.
My mother was a beautiful woman. But her true beauty came from within. Doris exemplified virtues that are perhaps in scarce supply in our all-too-busy world of self-promotion and self-aggrandizement. She placed the needs of others before her own; she was a devoted life-long friend; she treated everyone around her, regardless of their station in life, with dignity and respect; she believed in kindness for its own sake. She didn't preach these values, she just simply lived them everyday of her life. And that is a life truly worth celebrating.
My thoughts this morning go out to those of you who knew Doris as a girl, a young woman, a young bride, a young mother; who shared with her the joys and sorrows of the human condition. To my Aunt Flossie and Uncle Jerry, Aunt Ruthie, Cousin Judy, Joel and Shirley Ralph, Stanley and Sybil, dear friend Ruth Halpern and all those who loved my mother long before we came on the scene: Know that Doris completed her life just as she had lived it--with grace, fortitude and dignity. And it says a lot that while she has not lived here for over 35 years, Doris is coming home to be with you, her husband Howard and her roots.
Eulogy for Doris Balin – written by Sue Balin-Peterson (Date of Death 11/15/12 – Memorial Service – 11/18/12)
I have had way too much time to think about the words I would say here today. Much as I procrastinated writing these thoughts down, the time allowed me to distill what I believe are those things that I will always remember about my mother Doris Balin. In all of my Mom's roles as a woman, daughter, wife, sister, sister-in-law, mother, grandmother, Great Grandmother, Aunt, cousin and friend above all else I will remember a person who had the ability to love and share her love with an amazing number of people in this world. My Mom was a woman who understood that if there was one thing we could never run out of it was love and she certainly lived up to that ideal in her long life time. She was a fierce friend, an amazing mom, a loving grandmother and a care taker to so many people over her life time the list is too long to give in full.
When I was about 8 years old, my Mom started to take me with her to her Chernikoff charity luncheons. I loved those times and have vivid memories of Manerva Braimer and her big Rolls Royce coming to our house to prepare things for the charity sales and luncheons. From that time until today, I learned through my Mom just how important giving back to the community was and how much joy there was in this process. Later in life, when Mom volunteered for Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and the Discovery shop, I realized that throughout all of my memories there was Mom, working with and for charitable causes. The philosophy of Tikkun Olam was not one that I ever remember Mom speaking about; it was however, something that I witnessed every day in her actions.
Fast forward to when Mom was living with Tad and I and several of her friends fell ill. Although I was aware that Mom was there for many friends when I was much younger, as an adult, I was very involved with the process. Whether it was flying to San Jose to be with her friend Lois during the last few hours of her life, or visiting her friend Mildred daily at a nursing home or saying Chanukkah prayers with her friend Val moments before she passed away, no one could ever have doubted the strength and love it took for my mom to sit with her friends and give them care and comfort prior to their passing.
It doesn't take a great leap of logic to realize just how much my mother's quiet strength and ability to share love has affected our world. All you need to do is look at Marianne, Jane, Robert or me and it becomes immediately apparent that we have lived our lives with the sure knowledge that our homes will always be open not only to our children and family but to those who are in need of warmth and solace. Over the last 20 years or so, it was these traits that led more people to call my mother Grandmom than those that called her Doris in all the years before. She shared that same strength and assuredness that I saw when I was 8 years old with every child that ever entered our home – she made sure that each of these children knew they were the smartest, most beautiful or handsome child ever to have been born and always assured them that they had the ability to be anything they desired.
When I think of immortality, I don't need to think very hard. Knowing that my Mom was loved and cherished by so many people, I know that it doesn't matter that she does not leave grand buildings behind her or even grand ideas or philosophies, her life made such a difference to so many, she will be remembered by many generations to come. The stories of her life and her love will be passed on in so many households that I take great comfort in knowing that Mom will be with us in our hearts and our thoughts for a very very long time. I will remember the "Update" list on Doris that I put out every 10 days or so and that it kept growing by leaps and bounds and that many of the people who asked to be added to the list were those who were my siblings' and my friends from childhood. I will remember that Marianne, Jane, Robert, my nieces and nephews, my step-children, my cousins, my Aunt and Uncle and above all my Hannah were at my home to be with Mom at the drop of a hat. I will remember that all it took was a word or two about my fears that Mom's life was coming to an end or a plea for help so Tad and I could get a break for a day or two and there was always someone to answer our call. I will remember my Mom as a woman who was blessed with children, grandchildren, friends, and family who loved her because she always knew how to share her love with them. Though I will miss my Mom more than I can say here, I know that she will be remembered with love and warmth by oh so many people and that realization above all else will give me solace and in time joy for many years to come.