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October 17, 2003     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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October 17, 2003
 

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H,~ERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, OCTOBER 17, 2003 PAGE 15 MAKE YOUR NEXT EVENT CROWN E PLAZA" EXTRAORDINARY RESORTS ATTHE THE PtACE TO MEET. CROWNPLATJkO YDOAI RT By Kim Langweiler Fischer Associate Editor Milton Shevitz, 87, of Or- lando passed away on Sun- day, August 10, 2003, from COngestive heart failure. Me was affectionately nown as "Uncle Miltie." But he nickname had noth!,ng !Odowith"Mr. Television -- Milton Berle At the Jewish COmmunity Center, Congre- Ration Ohev Shalom, and Give Kids the World, Milt everyone's uncle. Why the obituary two months late? With sincere ~Poiogies to his family, fiends, and members of the ~rnmunity, I couldn't find he Words. It was too per- sonal, too close, too diffi- Cult. Give Kids the World as an airport greeter. The surro- gate grandparents helped children with life threaten- ing illnesses, and their fami- lies, navigate Orlando Inter- national Airport to send them on their way to hotels during the first three years and then to the Kids Village in Kissimmee when it opened in 1986. According to Gall Keleman, GKTW Airport co- ordinator Milt remained ac- tive with the program; he last greeted families in Feb- ruary 2003. But in earlier years he would visit the air- port two or three times a week arranging to greet sev- eral families during each trip to OIA. "He loved it," Keleman Milt was one of the first said. "It was in his soul. He PeOple I met when I began loved what it was all about." orking at the JCC 19 years Meeting these kids was a ago. He introduced himself natural fit for Miit, he saw and from that point on I, beyond their illnesses and like so many others, could greeted everyone with a Ount him as a friend and smile. He loved children; he forward to his visitshadaspecialwaywiththem. hen he came to the JCC." Trying to figure out how t' Hewasamemberandtwo- dren also called him "Uncle nne president of the JCC s we were related, my chil- gers and an active vo u - Miitie," acknowledging, as !eer at more JCC functions theygrew older that the title and projects then anyone had its roots from fondness can remember, and respect. Before subdivisions had When I left the JCC he !! munity recreation areas, made sure I understood that eJ.CC pool was"the place" it wasn't the working rela- o nng the kids on Sundays tionship that kept us friends holidays, during sum-it was because he cared. He ,ermonths.Ahighlightwas always asked about the kids Uncle Miltie's Snack Bar," andwas good for a smile and for the hotdogs, knishes, a hug. Soda, a bag of chips, eventu- I didn't realize the effect he expanded the busi-Milt had on my children un- ess to include corned beef til the Sunday after he died. endwiches --the profits re turned over to the JCC. . When there was food to be repared and served, Milt Ould be there, special Vpents, intermission for enter Player productions, .UPer Sunday, 39er lun- [').Cons+ he was king of the l hen. . the volunteering didn't egin or end there, it is esti- ated that Hilt contributed i,ure than 5000 hours to a Unlber of organizations Roving to Central rn Plainview, N Y 24 ~ ~.rS aaa " " -etv. e led services at Kinneret i r Housing - even be- moving there - Park Nursing Home and vened mo rning prayers at gregation Ohev Shalom. firls 1986, Milt became the VOlunteer "Angel" for At the morning service Rabbi Rubinger explained that at the end of the Amidah one may add a personal prayer. As the congregation com- pleted the prayer he asked the students to share their thoughts. I was sitting in the back of the room, with my broken foot propped up, so I couldn't clearly hear or see who mentioned a family friend who had passed away, Milt Shevitz. The rabbi ech- oed the student's feelings of loss on behalf of the congre- gation -- I found out later it was my daughter who ex- pressed her grief. Claire Mercer, friend, fel- low 39er and GKTW volun- teer said Milt was "a small man in stature" but he had a big heart; he would roll up his sleeves to help anyone who asked. "He was an inspiration," Mercer wrote in her tribute. "His dedication, his caring and his hard work earned him the respect of the entire community." About a month before Milt passed away I bumped into his son, Stanley. He told me that Miit was upset about losing his independence, he couldn't always attend syna- gogue and couldn't volun- teer very often. Stanley said the "work gave Milt some- thing to do and he wanted to make sure people were happy." Those of us who knew him know that 'making people happy' and his love of Juda- ism brought him a lot of pleasure. His wife Celia, who had a long battle with diabetes, preceded him in death. Milt was by her side throughout every procedure and was of- ten her primary caretaker. He seemed to have an amaz- ing strength. He is survived by Stanley and daughter-in-law Susan of Winter Springs; daughter Bernice Gaiptman; and grandchildren, Harris Gaiptman and Diane Gaiptman, all of Longwood. I sat in front of the com- puter many times trying to write a tribute to Miit Shevitz, a week became two, then a month and now two. The High Holy Days made us miss him even more, al- though all the seats at Con- gregation Ohev Shalom were full for some of us there will always be an empty place. At many of the daily news- papers there are reporters who spend all their time re- searching and writing obitu- aries -- some have even be- come famous for their pieces. I don't know how they feel about people close to their hearts but looking for a little help on the Interact I learned this valu- able lesson, "Those who have gone can still inspire us as we learn from their stories. That's why it's important to tell those stories, and to remem- ber." -Amy White (www.slowtwitch.com) I hope these belated thoughts serve to honor Milt Shevitz, a man who touched the lives of so many people, friends and strangers alike. May his memory be a bless- ing. Bar & Bat Mitzvahs Weddings, Anniversaries, Rehearsal Dinners Reunions, Award Dinners Holiday Parties Birthdays Corporate Functions, Banquets & Meetings Personalized Service, Stylish and affordable accommodations, Gracious hospitality We are 1 mile from Orlando Int'! 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