Remembering Ira Weinstein

From Linda Dewey, KMHS President

Dear friends,

We have lost our dear Ira Weinstein. He was suddenly unresponsive on Thursday. The paramedics revived him, but he never regained consciousness and died this morning (January 24, 2016).

To his dying day, Ira P Weinstein felt that this organization was utterly important on getting out the word about the Kassel Mission. Ira was a bombardier on that mission in Lt. Donald’s plane. He was captured and sent to Stalag Luft I and had many stories to tell about that experience. You can read his interview or listen to it at www.kasselmission.com.

 After the war, his experience never let go of him. He had terrible survivor’s guilt and would often break into tears when he spoke of it to small parties or even to large audiences. He was a continual promoter of KMMA/KMHS. In this organization’s formative years, and he sat on the board for over 20 years. As an advertising man, he created our current logo and manned the supply side of the PX, coming up with new products to help support the organization. He finally stepped down from the board this past Fall.

The one thing he did not feel he could do, however, was visit the Germans who had been our enemy. He overcame that in the mid-90s, and came back cheering. He was dumbfounded over the treatment he received from Walter Hassenpflug, Guenter Lemke and the other Germans he met when he was there. Their open-hearted friendliness amazed him. 

Over the years, Ira often Skyped with Guenter, our translator, and called me to keep in touch and stay on top of things. He was a very good friend of my father and all the Kassel Mission veterans in this organization. He cried every time one died and moaned that he was nearly the only one left, even though he wasn't. He cared very much about this organization and wondered for a long time if it would survive once his generation was gone. He was always reassured to hear the progress we continue to make.

And so we carry on, albeit with sad hearts, having now lost such a fine man who flew that day, with the 445th Bomb Group, on the infamous Kassel Mission.

Obituary

Ira P. Weinstein, 96, Glenview (formerly Glencoe, Il and Palm Beach, Fl), January 24, 2016. Beloved husband of Marilyn (Gandelman, née Powell) and the late Norma (née Randall); treasured father of Terri Weinstein and Laura (Steve) Temkin; revered grandfather of Max and Ross Temkin. Adored brother of the late Gladys Zweig and the late Anita Siegel; cherished uncle to Penny Siegel (Michael) Swartz and Jeff (Beth) Siegel and far flung grandnieces and grandnephews.

 Ira Weinstein, 1999, Savannah. Photo by Luc Dewez.

Ira Weinstein, 1999, Savannah. Photo by Luc Dewez.

A decorated veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corps during WWII, serving two dozen missions as 1st Lieutenant in the 8th Air Force and bombardier/navigator on B24 "Liberators," he survived his plane being shot down over Germany in September of 1944 and endured the remainder of the war as a POW in Stalagluft I. In later years he was active in the 8th Air Force and Kassel Mission Historical Societies, sharing his story with authors and documentarians and authoring the book "The Watch That Went To War."

Upon return from service, he ran Schram Advertising for over 40 years, pioneering the direct mail and business-to-business fields, as well as publishing two successful board games, and started a family in Glencoe, where he resided for over 60 years, known locally for his gardening and greenhouse expertise. He was instrumental in the founding of Congregation Solel, and over the years donated with vigor to various Jewish charities, with special attention to Women's American ORT. An accomplished world traveler and photographer, he enjoyed wintering in Palm Beach, and in later years became a skilled builder of scores of model airplanes.

He will be most remembered as the embodiment of persistence, resilience and generosity. Services will be held 3pm, Wednesday, January 27, Weinstein & Piser Funeral Home, 111 Skokie Blvd, Wilmette, IL. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to kasselmission.com