On March 12, 2015, RHODA (nee Cohen), beloved wife of the late Norman Friedman; cherished mother of Craig Friedman, Mindy (late John) Warthen, Laurence (Taryn) Friedman and Robin (Jose) Barrera; devoted sister of Elaine (late Philip) Wertlieb; loving grandmother of Natalie, Blake and Nolan Warthen, Riley, Ryan and Joshua Friedman, Madison and Nathan Barrera. Services at SOL LEVINSON & BROS., INC., 8900 Reisterstown Road, on Sunday, March 15 at 9 a.m. Interment at Shaarei Zion Cemetery, Rosedale. Please omit flowers. Contributions in her memory may be sent to the American Heart Association, P.O. Box 5216, Glen Allen, VA 23058-5216. In mourning at 15 Trighton Court, Reisterstown, MD 21136 on Sunday only.
Not many people can say they worked with their father, brother, son and grandson in a business that is a household name in Jewish Baltimore, but that’s exactly what Burton Levinson did.
The vice president of Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc. passed away on Sunday, March 8, at the age of 91.
His grandson, Matt Levinson, the fifth generation to work in the family-owned-and-operated business, said his grandfather’s example set the tone for the business.
“His work ethic was impeccable. He worked hard, he came to work every day. He never complained. This business came first,” Matt, vice president, said. “That’s what he taught us at a very young age.”
Burton’s son, Ira, president of Sol Levinson, stressed that his father’s personality and kindness was instrumental in the growth and success of the business.
“He was one of those people — and I’m not saying this because he was my father — one of the nicest, sweetest, gentle people you’d ever meet,” he said. “He’s just a kind, sweet guy, and that’s what help our business over the years. … His motto was, ‘Do the right thing.’”
Burton Harold Levinson was born in Baltimore on April 1, 1923, the son of the late Emanuel and Goldie Levinson. As a young man, he excelled in sports, playing ice hockey and soccer during his time at Forest Park High School.
He fought in World War II with the 143rd AAA Gun Battalion. His family said Burton was proud of his time during the war, which included fighting in the Battle of the Bulge, one of the largest battles of the war, stopping a surprise German offensive.
Burton went to work at Sol Levinson the day following his Army discharge in January 1946. Shortly after that, he married his first wife, Marjorie, and they had two children, Ira and Lynn. Marjorie passed away in 1960 after 14 years of marriage.
“He did go through some tragedy, and maybe that helped him serve the clients,” Ira said.
Burton later married Bettye, to whom he was wed for more than 50 years.
At Sol Levinson — next year would have marked 70 years at the company — he worked with his father Emanuel, uncle Sol, brother Stanley, son and grandson in addition to cousins and a niece, spanning the third, fourth and fifth generations of Levinson family members in the business.
Burton was involved in moving the business from North Avenue to 6010 Reisterstown Road in 1960, which allowed the business to further grow. The business moved to its current facility in 1996.
Burton was also active in the Jewish community, working with such congregations as Beth El, B’nai Jacob Shaarei Zion and B’nai Israel and organizations such as the Jewish Funeral Directors of America, the Maryland State Funeral Directors Association, the Suburban Country Club, the Amicable Lodge Masons and Yedz Grotto.
Although the Levinson family has been working in the funeral home business since 1892, the death of a loved one affects them just like any other family.
“We’re not immune. It’s the same shock, the same bereavement process as anyone else,” Ira said. “We know life is short and at any time something can happen, so we appreciate … how fragile life is.”
Beth El Congregation Rabbi Steven Schwartz, who has worked with Sol Levinson for almost two decades, said Burton was a gentle, soft-spoken man with a good spirit who always had a twinkle in his eye. Having worked with funeral homes in other parts of the country, he knows what a treasure Sol Levinson is for Baltimore.
“Levinson’s is on a different level, just the way everything is done, the quality, the professionalism, it’s just really amazing, and I think Burt set the tone for that,” he said. “It’s a family business in the old style. It’s a rare thing to see in the funeral business these days.”
Beth Tfiloh Congregation Rabbi Mitchell Wohlberg has worked with Sol Levinson for the 37 years he’s been in Baltimore. He shared Schwartz’s sentiments about the funeral home and Burton.
“He was a first-class gentleman,” Wohlberg said. “He loved what he was doing, which was a strange thing to say about someone in this business, but he cared about you as a person and that was his life. I know no one who had a bad word to say about him.”
Burton Levinson is survived by his wife Bettye, brother Stanley and wife Celia Levinson, children Lynn Ginsberg; Ira and wife Debbie Levinson, and Anne and husband Richard Sherman; grandchildren Michael and wife Cristina Ginsberg, Ryan Levinson, Matt and wife Katelyn Levinson, David and wife Megan Ginsberg; and great-grandchildren Chase, Reid, Mila and Wyatt Ginsberg and Zachary Levinson.
On March 12, 2015, MARIYA “MAYA” (nee Byalyy), beloved wife of the late Arkady Noskin and Vladimir Dotsenko; loving mother of Irene (Benjamin) Balbir; devoted brother Igor Byalyy and the late Vilen Byalyy; adored grandmother of Gene (Carol) Balbir and Alexander (Melissa) Balbir; cherished great-grandmother of Matthew and Madeline Balbir; dear aunt of Julia Byalya, Vlad Byalyy and Nicole Byalya. Services at SOL LEVINSON & BROS., INC., 8900 Reisterstown Road, on Friday, March 13 at 2 p.m. Interment at Baltimore Hebrew Cemetery, Berrymans Lane. Please omit flowers. Contributions in her memory may be sent to American Cancer Society, 8219 Town Center Drive, Baltimore, MD 21236.
On March 10, 2015, TOBY ALFRED, beloved husband of Beverly (Beryle) Wiseman; devoted son of the late Esther and Harry Wiseman; beloved father of Leslie Levine and David Claypool and Hillary and Jack Crystal; cherished grandfather of Lindsay Levine and Adam Schwartz, Lane Levine and his partner David Avruch, Bryan Crystal and Amy Crystal; great-grandfather of his delightful great-granddaughter Millie Ruth Schwartz. Brother of the late Hetty Fell, Norman Wiseman and Gerald Wiseman. Services at SOL LEVINSON & BROS., INC., 8900 Reisterstown Road, on Friday, March 13 at 10 a.m. Interment at Garrison Forest Cemetery, Chizuk Amuno Congregation, Owings Mills. Please omit flowers. In mourning at 106 Old Plantation Way, Pikesville, MD 21208, Friday only, noon to 4 p.m., with a Shabbat service at 6 p.m. at Chizuk Amuno Congregation, 8100 Stevenson Road. Continuing at 11 Supreme Court, Owings Mills, MD 21117, with services Sunday through Thursday at 7:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m.
On March 9, 2015, Dr. BARRY, beloved husband of Linda Weinhouse; cherished father of Michelle Weinhouse, Brett (Deena) Weinhouse and Marc (Dora) Weinhouse; loving grandfather of Sierra Richardson and Maxwell, Zachary, Amelia and Margeaux Weinhouse. Services at SOL LEVINSON & BROS., INC., 8900 Reisterstown Road, on Thursday, March 12 at 2 p.m. Interment at Beth Tfiloh Cemetery, 5800 Windsor Mill Road. Please omit flowers. Contributions in his memory may be sent to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 26 Broadway, 14th Floor, New York, NY 10004. In mourning at 706 St. Paul Ave., Reisterstown, MD 21136.
On March 10, 2015, ESTHER (nee Liberman), beloved wife of the late David Daniel Zerden; devoted mother of Stanley (Sharon) Zerden, Herbert (Helen) Zerden and Marlene (Dan) Kessler; dear sister of the late Dolly Newton; cherished grandmother of Jonathan (Allison) Zerden, Roger Zerden, Klaudia Zerden, Katie Zerden, Hailey Zerden and Toby Kessler; adored great-grandmother of Erin and Casey Zerden; loving daughter of the late Samuel and Tina Liberman. Funeral services and interment at Anshe Emunah Aitz Chaim Cemetery, 3901 Washington Blvd., on Thursday, March 12 at 1 p.m. Please omit flowers. Contributions in her memory may be sent to National Federation of the Blind, 1800 Johnson St., Baltimore, MD 21230 or Beth El Congregation, 8101 Park Heights Ave., Baltimore, MD 21208. In mourning at 3019 Susanne Court, Owings Mills, MD 21117, Thursday and Friday.
On March 9, 2015, SONDRA (nee Rivelis), beloved wife of the late Seymour Steinberg; loving mother of Ilyse (Jesse) Delanoy and Lee (Kristina) Steinberg; dear sister of David (Helen) Rivelis and the late Arthur (Florence) Rivelis; devoted grandmother of William Delanoy and Erika (Scott) Flax; cherished daughter of the late Irving and Esther Rivelis. Services at SOL LEVINSON & BROS., INC., 8900 Reisterstown Road, on Thursday, March 12 at noon. Interment at Oheb Shalom Memorial Park, Berrymans Lane. Please omit flowers. Contributions in her memory may be sent to Gilchrist Hospice Care, 11311 McCormick Road, Suite 350, Hunt Valley, MD 21031. In mourning at 11100 Chambers Court, Unit P, Woodstock, MD 21163, following interment until 9 p.m. on Thursday only.
On March 10, 2015, JEROLD, beloved son of Daniel and Rose (nee Levine) Friedlander; dear brother of Wendy (David) Kaplan; also survived by other loving family and friends. Funeral services and interment at Moses Montefiore Woodmoor Hebrew Cemetery, Washington Boulevard. Please omit flowers. Contributions in his memory may be sent to the American Cancer Society, 8219 Town Center Drive, Baltimore, MD 21236.
On March 8, 2015, ESTHER (nee Markin), beloved wife of the late Abraham Kirshner; devoted mother of Robert (late Arlene) Kirshner; loving daughter of the late Michael and Anna Markin; dear sister of the late Sam Markin, Eddie Markin and Jean Kessler; cherished grandmother of Kimberly Kirshner (Bruce Cutler); adored great-grandmother of Laila Dalton. Funeral services and interment at Bnai Israel Cemetery, 3701 Southern Ave., on Thursday, March 12 at noon. Please omit flowers. Contributions in her memory may be sent to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 100 Painters Mill Road, Suite 800, Owings Mills, MD 21117.
On March 9, 2015, ALAN LEWIS, beloved brother of Stanley (Gwen) Gelber; dear uncle of Yisroel Jason Gelber and Zelda Wendy Engles; also survived by many loving great-nieces and great-nephews. Services at SOL LEVINSON & BROS., INC., 8900 Reisterstown Road, on Tuesday, March 10 at 2 p.m. Interment at Lubawitz Nusach Ari (Ner Tamid) Cemetery, Rosedale. Please omit flowers. Contributions in his memory may be sent to Ner Tamid, 6214 Pimlico Road, Baltimore, MD 21209. In mourning at 8902 Greylock Road, Baltimore, MD 21208 through Monday morning with services at 7 a.m. and 6:55 p.m.