Irma Milstein Obituary

MILSTEIN–Irma. Irma Cameron Milstein, aged 95, of New York City and Scarsdale, passed away peacefully in her sleep, surrounded by loved ones. Irma was a devoted daughter to her parents, the late Harry and Sadelle Cameron. She was a loving wife to the late Paul Milstein to whom she was happily married for 63 years. She was adored by her loving children (Roslyn and Jerry Meyer, Howard and Abby Milstein, Barbara and David Zalaznick, and Edward Milstein and the late Robin Rapoport Milstein), grandchildren (Rebecca Meyer and Jeff Resnik, Michael Meyer, Jamie Meyer, Michael Milstein, Jeffrey and Ali Zalaznick, Samantha Zalaznick, Amy and Tim Sommers, Andrew and Carly Milstein, Lexi and Michael Feldstein, Benjamin Milstein, Elizabeth and Jeremy Orlian) and great-grandchildren (Lucy and Forest Meyer-Resnik, Poppy, Leo, and Zoey Zalaznick, Bella and Sadie Milstein). Irma is also survived by her dear sister Phyllis Edelman and her brother-in-law Jerome Edelman. Irma was born in Brooklyn, where she went to public high school, and earned an undergraduate degree from Brooklyn College, Phi Beta Kappa, where she majored in languages. She was fluent in French and Spanish. She met the love of her life, Paul Milstein, through a family connection, and theirs was a long, great and joyously happy marriage. She was a true partner to Paul in business and at home and they traveled and discovered the world together. Irma valued family above all else and was an involved and devoted daughter, wife, mother, sister, aunt, niece and cousin. Her extended family returned that love and devotion. For her children, Irma instilled a love, appreciation and respect for each other and the importance of giving and making a difference in others’ lives. Irma loved life and lived it with zest. She was a very happy person by nature and she infused that joy and enthusiasm into everything she did. She was quick to laugh and brought sunshine wherever she went. She was brilliant, elegant, capable, and decisive. A lifetime of playing cards and scrabble with friends and family — and teaching the same across generations — created special memories of spirited and sophisticated play, fun, and wonderful conversations. Irma was generous and caring, gave thoughtfully and creatively, and was personally involved in the details of initiatives close to her heart. She was especially focused on gifts that furthered and broadened access to science, education and learning, and medicine. Irma was passionate about the American Museum of Natural History, where she was a dedicated and involved Trustee for many years. She was particularly proud of several initiatives, including the Milstein Hall of Ocean Life, which featured the modernization and refurbishment of its legendary “Whale Room.” In addition, she led the creation of an innovative program to bring the museum to children throughout the city with the mobile museums vans and created the Milstein Science Series to introduce young children and their families to the awe and wonders of science, and funded the exciting renovation of the Milstein Hall of Advanced Mammals, which was dedicated to all the children of New York City. She served on the Board of the Jewish Theological Seminary, creating the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue as well as the development of a new High Holy Day prayer book, which has been adopted in synagogues nationally, known as the Milstein Mahzor. Irma served on the Board of Hadassah and became a Life Member. She funded a ground-breaking new Milstein Heart Center at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, which was dedicated in 2018. A generous benefactor to Bank Street College of Education, Irma was awarded an honorary doctorate degree. She loved the New York Public Library, where she and Paul endowed the Milstein Division of US History, Local History, and Genealogy. Other organizations that Irma supported included the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the American Jewish Committee, Jewish Agency for Services for the Aged (JASA), the Jewish Museum, and UJA-Federation. Irma’s family will be forever grateful to Juan Acosta, who gave Irma extraordinary and loving care in her final years. Gifts in memory of Irma Milstein may be made to the American Museum of Natural History or Hadassah.

Published in New York Times on Mar. 16, 2021.