Monthly Archives: July 2020

RIP Sam Brownstein

Sam and Marilyn Brownstein were long-time active members of the Humanist Society of New Mexico. They had to return East due to Sam’s failing health in 2015, and they are greatly missed.

Sam Brownstein died at Jewish Senior Services in Bridgeport, CT, on July 3, 2020, after a long struggle with dementia. His family survivors include his wife, Marilyn Freilicher Brownstein, of Bridgeport, his son, Peter Brownstein, of Milford, CT, his daughter, Jessica Brownstein Prestegaard, son-in-law, Paal Thomas Prestegaard, and grandchildren, Elizabeth Anne Prestegaard and Paal Henry Prestegaard, all of Fairfield, CT. Also joining his nuclear family in both mourning his death and celebrating his life are his sister, Ruth Brownstein Leibowitz, brother, Oscar Lee Brownstein, sister-in-law, Daphna Ben Chaim, and many close cousins, nephews and nieces. Sam had myriad friends, some dating from childhood and college, and including people he met through business, travel, organizations, and the various places he’d lived. He cared deeply about them and did his best to keep in touch. He and his wife also cherished the love and support of their extended family in the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism of Fairfield County, CT.
Sam was born on January 10, 1930 in the coal mining community of Becco, West Virginia, the second child of Thelma and Chaim Brownstein, recent Jewish immigrants from, respectively, Poland and Rumania. His father operated a dry goods store in competition with the company store. When Sam was about 6, the family moved to the state capital, Charleston, where they prospered in the furniture business and where he had a boisterous and mostly happy childhood through high school. The family were active members of the B’nai Jacob synagogue there.
Sam left Charleston in the late1940s to attend the University of Missouri, from which he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s in broadcast journalism, also squeezing in a stint in the US Army as a second lieutenant. Fortunate to be stationed in Germany during the Korean War, he enjoyed his military service, the camaraderie and the opportunity to be a young single guy traveling around Germany and France in his off times. Back in the USA, he worked as a traveling salesman for a while, then moved to NewYork City in the late 1950s to further his career and find a wife. He did both. In 1961, he married Marilyn and started PRO Time Sales, a company representing radio stations, selling their time to advertising agencies. The company grew to have many clients and several offices in major cities.
In 1970, the family, now including Jessica, born in 1966, and Peter, born in 1969, moved to Westport, CT, while both parents continued to commute to work in NYC.
Sam was involved in local politics and served on the Westport Democratic Town Committee. Marilyn started working as an editor for Greenwood Press in Westport.
They joined the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism in 1971 and found a true home there. Sam taught Sunday School and held several board positions, including president. Sam sold PRO Time Sales in the mid-1980s; then, restless in early retirement, he bought and operated Radio Station WWCO in Waterbury, CT, for several years.
While traveling in the Southwest, Sam and Marilyn became enchanted with the ”Land of Enchantment” (NM), and beginning in 1994, they divided their time between homes in Albuquerque and Westport (later Monroe and Easton). This new chapter brought more experiences and friends. With age and illness encroaching, in 2015, they returned to live full time in Connecticut, settling in Bridgeport.
Sam had arranged to donate his body for research at the Netter School of Medicine, Quinnipiac University, an admirable reflection of his humanistic world view and humanitarianism. We will be planning a memorial service for Sam sometime in the future, on Zoom if necessary. Contributions in his honor may be made to the Congregation for Humanistic Judaism, Walt Frank, treasurer, 31 Wayfaring Rd, Norwalk, CT 06851, or to Jewish Senior Services, 4200 Park Ave., Bridgeport, CT 06604.