Obituary: Richard J. Halpern


Richard J. Halpern, a resident of Port Washington since 1957, passed away March 1, 2021 at the age of 96.5 years.

He leaves his daughters Shari Basom (David Spiekerman) of Seattle, WA, and Mara Halpern of Amherst, MA. He has six grandsons: Jonas Basom (Susy), Julian Halpern (Nicole), Ezra Basom, Ariel Basom (Carina), Jesse Halpern (Yu), and Noah McManus (Annabel). He leaves eight great grandchildren: Eli, Max, Luke, Grace, Hannah, Sophia, Jared and Macabee. His wife of 65 years, Juliet, died in March 2012. His companion, Ruth Thaler, survives him as does his brother Edward (Dianne) of Spring Grove, IL.

Born in Chicago, IL, on July 18, 1924, he interrupted his studies in 1944 at the University of Illinois to join the United States Army who sent him to France where he participated in combat for the liberation of Europe from the Nazis.  Like all veterans of WWII, he was profoundly awakened and affected by the destruction and desolation and devastation he witnessed, which gave him an iron clad determination to maximize the political, social, and economic opportunities that a free and prosperous America offered him.

After the allied victory in Europe, he returned to the University of Illinois where he completed his BA degree in Journalism and actively participated in the desegregation of all campus facilities.  After graduation, he began working on the advertising staff of the Chicago Tribune. In 1953 he moved to New York and began a rewarding 32year career at Ziff Davis Publishing Company.  Not content merely with the comfort of his family life in the 1960’s and continuing his love of social justice, he actively participated in the local and national civil rights movement, helping to lead numerous initiatives to free black Americans from the bondage of racism and the Jim Crow South.

In1985, he began a 30 year plus retirement pursuing an avocation in amateur photography. Later he became the author of two books: “PORTRAITS, A VISUAL MAP OF WHO WE ARE,” and “100 APHORISMS AND WORDS TO LIVE BY.”

Living an active civic role in Port Washington for 64 years, he took advantage of the democratic freedoms that he fought to preserve and to expand during WWII. He was the President of the Harbor Hills Residents Association and the President of the Sholem Aleichem Folk School of Roslyn.

In 2010, he moved to the Amsterdam at Harborside where he served on the Residents Council Board for several years.

Donations in his memory can be made to the Port Washington Library, Yiddish Book Center, Shoah Foundation. Any organization fighting Discrimination, working for a Better World or Progressive Policies.


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