Molla Gelwarg passed away on September 19, 2019. Molla was born in New York City on October 30, 1930 while her family was living on Schley Street in Newark, New Jersey, before soon moving to a house in Union, NJ. Molla grew up at 2069 Balmoral Ave in Union, living with her parents Jacob (Jack, and sometimes Jake), Shirley (nee Sadie), older brother Melvin, younger sister Abby, and their beloved dog Cocoa.
Molla graduated Union High School with the class of 1948 and thereafter began a career as a secretary in Newark (her father not permitting her to work in New York City). In 1952, introduced by a mutual friend, she began dating Sanford Gelwarg (who’d grown up only a mile from the Zimmers’ earlier Schley St. address).
When she felt that Sanford was only too happy to continue ‘dating,’ Molla gave him an ultimatum. Sanford proposed shortly thereafter, and the couple were married on May 31, 1953 at the Clinton Manor in Newark.
Molla and Sanford (after a honeymoon at the Nevele in the Catskills) settled in an apartment at 376 Prospect Street in East Orange, NJ. Their son Peter was born in January of 1955 at Beth Israel Hospital (where all three of their children would be born), and when Molla became pregnant with Joel, it was determined that it was time to find larger quarters.
Molla and Sanford found a split-level home being built in the new Woodside development of Springfield at 41 Hemlock Terrace and were able to move in late in 1958 just before Molla gave birth to Joel in December. The family would grow and thrive in that warm community of close friends and neighbors for 21 years.
When Stuart was born in 1962, that ended Molla’s child bearing years, likely in part due to Sanford’s CPA’s type concern for the bottom line and expenses, as well as Molla figuring she was just never going to get that daughter she longed for.
In addition to trying to get her children’s attention diverted from television to chores and getting them to finish their homework, Molla was active in her synagogue. Molla was always proud of her Jewish heritage and joined her synagogue’s Sisterhood, eventually serving as president.
Molla always stressed the importance of family and keeping in touch in good times or bad. She was never happier than when celebrating a family member’s achievements or rites of passage. Molla was also dogged in keeping lines of communication open, even when there’d been friction (and there were times, whether with children, siblings or other family). For Molla, it came back to family and the need to forgive and stay close.
When the boys were a bit older, Molla decided to get back into the work force, first setting up a local importing business for handbags and jewelry with a friend, and then working in sales for many years at Bloomingdales, before getting back into office work and becoming a business manager running a doctor’s office.
When Molla and Sanford had reached retirement age, Molla started feeling the pull that many Jews feel of wanting to get back to their homeland… AND SO Molla moved them both to Boynton Beach, Fl. After Sanford passed in November of 2000, Molla continued to live happily in Boca and Sarasota, before moving in February of 2015 to Winchester Gardens in Maplewood, NJ, to be closer to her family for the rest of her days.
Molla is survived by her three sons, and daughters-in-law, Donna Steffes, Rose Ierullo, and Karen Lipkind; as well as nine grandchildren, Collen Hill, Kelsey Hill, Seth Gelwarg, Jacob Gelwarg, Stephanie Gelwarg, Amanda Nacci, Christian Nacci, Lucas Gelwarg, and Chelsea Gelwarg, as well as four great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be held graveside at 11am on Sunday, September 22nd at Beth Israel Cemetery.
The Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research