Merle and Gert Guttmann on their wedding day in Bulawayo in 1959
Bridesmaids Ghita (left), Merle's sister Beverly (middle) and Gert's sister Lisa (right)
Fifty-nine years ago, in Bulawayo, Rhodesia, I was a young teen growing up enveloped in a close knit Jewish community. How privileged we all were!
One of the stalwarts of the community was the Baron family, a clan in its own right.
Focus in now on the one branch to which my family is so warmly connected: Rachel, Ben, Merle, Marshall, Saone and Beverly, and the cocker spaniels.
And still focusing, here we are at the betrothal of the eldest daughter. Merle Baron is in love with a swashbuckling, handsome young man, Gert Guttmann, who has a booming, deep voice and a twinkle in his eye.
And here am I, enthralled by the romance of it all, and excited because I am to be a bridesmaid in Merle and Gert’s retinue.
It is a beautiful, sunny Rhodesian day in April, 1959. The wedding ceremony takes place outdoors in the Baron’s lovely expansive garden. We are dressed in daffodil yellow. Merle, resplendent in white dress and veil, Gert in his fedora and dark suit, stand side by side together under the Chuppah.
The ceremony is over all too quickly.
They stood together in marriage for fifty-nine years.
Back now to the present.
At home in Hollywood, FL, I read in ESRAmagazine 195 the obituaries to Gert, obituaries whose words reflect Gert’s life’s achievements and the prodigious nature of his partnership with Merle.
I visit with Merle every time I am in Israel, and occasionally Gert was able to join us, contributing his wittiness, insight, charm and warmth.
He is and will be missed by all.
May happy memories comfort Merle and families in particular, and also those who knew and loved Gert.
Ghita Sacks Wolpowitz, Hollywood, Florida, U.S.