Gloria Titen-a gracious, caring woman, mom and grandma
The following dedication was written by Gloria Titen's daughter, Ellen Titen.
Chocolate cake: home-made with love. Delicious, hand-ground liver with secret ingredient Ritz crackers. A true friend, and Woman of the Year for Hadassah. Our mom, Gloria Titen, lived a long, wonderful life. She made her children feel overwhelmingly loved throughout their whole lives. What greater gift could you ask in a mother?
You so rarely hear of anyone these days described as a "lady," but indeed, Gloria Titen was just that. Uncomplicated and welcoming, she cared deeply for her family and her friends, of which she had many. She loved big and she was loved big in return. One of my nieces, Elana, described her grandma as pure sunshine.
We are gathered here today in the memory of our mom, so together we may acknowledge and share both our joy in the gift that her life was to all of us, and the pain that her passing also brings to us. Our mother lived a long, meaningful life, and for that we are so grateful.
Gloria was born on Aug. 21, 1926 to Abraham and Rose Levy. She grew up in Brooklyn, New York with her brothers Sandy and Morty Levy.
Gloria and Harvey met as children. The woman who would become our mother was literally the girl next door, but our dad paid no attention to her until after he returned from serving in WWII. The young girl he knew had, by then, grown up. This time when he looked at her, she caught his eye. This began the story of their forever love affair. They replicated mom's sibling structure by having a daughter and two sons of their own.
Mom and dad married on Nov. 20, 1948-on Dad's birthday. The real reason they married on dad's birthday was so that he would never forget their anniversary. Dad often says she was the best present he ever received and we all agree she surely was. They were married for 66 years and were still crazy in love.
Over time, our parents moved from New York to Maryland, and ultimately to Maitland in 1959. Initially, my parents moved to Baltimore because my dad got a job with Martin Marietta. After a few years, he was transferred to Orlando, a time when Gloria wasn't quite certain that Orlando was even on a map. The move was a challenge she quickly overcame by getting involved in Temple Israel, where she was active for more than 55 years. As always, Gloria got involved; she and her co-partner successfully founded and ran the Hadassah Home Tour for over 25 years. Her dedication to Hadassah earned her many honors and accolades including one of the highest honors, Woman of the Year in 1986. One of my dear friends said, I don't know if there are saints in the Jewish faith, but if there are there should be a Saint Gloria.
The joys of Mom's life were her three children, Andrew, Edward and me. Her world stopped when any one of us called. She often said her heart sings with joy to be blessed with good children. In her later years, her grandchildren and her great-grandchildren brought her additional joy. Mom also loved her two daughter-in-laws, Gail and Lisa and her son-in-law Edward dearly and treated them as her own children. She loved her in-law's children's parents, too. Dottie was there for her everyday. No one missed out on Gloria's love. While she loved many of us, she certainly put our father, her husband Harvey, in the top spot. He was the light of her life.
She always had a kind word and she cared for so many, including family, friends from temple, Hadassah or the beauty shop, coffee shop, Chico's, nail salon, Stein Mart and the many other ways she connected with so many. No one was forgotten; Gloria was always quick to send a get well or welcome or thinking of you card. She usually sent more than one card and another signature Gloria was all the stickers she included on the envelopes as I am sure many of you here today have received. It was always a happy time to receive a card from her. If you were new to this community or new to where she lived, she went out of her way to make you feel welcome and included. Countless people have told me, do you know your mom was the first person to welcome me to Orlando?
My husband Eddie reminded me that Gloria was the ultimate Dale Carnegie student, she was always asking how you are, where you have been and what are you up to? She was interested in YOU, and she would listen carefully to what you had to say. She knew all of her children's friends and she would ask about them as well. If she knew you had been to a wedding, a Bar Mitzvah or even a funeral, she wanted to know all about it. Even when Gloria was so sick she still was asking about others.
Mom had a heart of gold and always made you feel good about yourself. You could always find comfort in her words during difficult times. One of my girlfriends said to me, she was the kind of mom everyone wanted; she added, I bet she had presents for you when you got home from school. Truth be told, there were no presents, but there was ice cream, cake, cookies, sprinkles, and M&M's. She loved when we ate and she loved eating with us!
Grandma always told the truth whether you liked it or not. One classic moment that I will never forget was when mom was going to pick me up and literally take me to the hospital for surgery. I greeted her at the door, and she took one look at me and said, "you look so pale." I said, "Mom, I am going to the hospital to have surgery." She said, "ugh, at least go put a little blush on."
For me, it was always fun to come home to a voice mail message from my mom. She would leave messages about the entire length of a recording with more terms of endearment than one can think of: hello sweetheart, how are you darling, what are up to now doll, how's the weather? what did you do today? You're just an angel and I can't wait to hear from you. If a single day lapsed between our calls, which was rare, she would call and begin her message with, I missed talking to you doll. She always called before, during and after the airing of the Academy Awards, Emmy's, Tony's, Oscars, and of course, a Barbara Walters special. I never tired of hearing from my mom.
Gloria was famous for her jewelry, jackets, and purses: her ensembles were always coordinated to a T. She had endless fun with all her jewelry in boxes and a million little pull out drawers – all held an abundance of special treasure. She even had shiny stones on her tennis shoes.
Gloria and Harvey loved to spend time together, shopping was a passion for mom, and dad went along with it. They also enjoyed travels, but their favorite weekend was a trip to New York and they always stayed at the Marriott Marquis. They went to shop, eat, see a show – then repeat, for five days. And to her daughter's, but more so daughter-in-laws and friends' delight, she would return home with the goods from Canal Street, but with Gloria style. Not only did she love jewelry, she loved sharing the experience. She was also showering nurses at doctor's offices, waitresses, and hairdressers, all kind of people in her life with jewels or favors of appreciation. I will never forget the time I was dining out in a restaurant my mom frequented as well. I complemented my servers' bracelet; she said to me do you know who gave this to me, I said no and her come back was your mom gave it to me. That was Gloria.
My nieces were especially close to Grandma Gloria. Rachel says Grandma taught her to be strong, stand up for herself, and love unconditionally. She said she also learned the importance of contact, telling those you love that you love them all the time. She said she adored all the good sweetness that grandma smothered all of us with. No one can forget her laughter. My nieces said she is what's good in this world. The love lessons we learned from grandma are embedded in us. No sickness or ultimate passing will take that away.
Our Mom passed away with the same gracious, caring, and loving style she lived life. We will miss her deeply. She has been a wonderful role model, and we will cherish the memories. She has left her legacy of how life should be lived with love, joy and a big heart for giving. My niece, Elana said it best when she said; she will always be the most beautiful grandma in the world, inside and out. Even in the end, she had the sweetest spirit. All of us love her to the moon and back. She will be forever missed, but will remain alive in our hearts forever.