Character is a person’s only real possession.
If I had to think of one object to represent my Zaidy, it wouldn't be Olympic medals or trophies -- it would be a disposable camera. As a child, I remember Zaidy at every family event, from holidays to Bar Mitzvahs, with that disposable camera: winding to the next picture, checking how many photos he had left, and of course making sure the flash had charged. Later on when Zaidy attended ceremonies for awards I won in New York City (Kaplun Essay Contest) and San Francisco (Wells Fargo), it didn't matter that there were professional photographers documenting the event -- there was Zaidy, beaming from behind that camera. Most recently, I visited him in his Boca Raton apartment with my children, I don't think he put that camera down for a minute since he was so excited to get photos of them. I'm sure he treasured those photos of his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren and wanted to hold onto those memories forever. He was so proud of all our accomplishments and milestones, and I'm happy that he got to be at so many important events in my life.
Byron was a "class act". In his own quiet way he connected to the people around him. One could feel his soul in all that he did. A fencer sees vulnerabilities and opportunities to attack. A "mentsch" allows others to see their own weaknesses and become even stronger. Byron was a first class fencer but an even more olympic sized mentsch.
Byron Krieger was a mensch by every definition of the word. A quiet and humble man with a wonderful sense of humor. He adored his family and took great pride in their accomplishments. Although we were only related to him through the marriage of our son we were proud to call him "zaidy".
"Your father was an amazing man and he, to me, was the epitome of kindness and love. I was 10 when I first met him. He was wearing a white dinner jacket and he looked at me and said ”You must be Melodee …I hear you like to dance.” I was smitten! At the lowest part of my life... he defended me...that was your Dad…loyal and loving..your dad smiled so much. Pride. Joy. Love.."
My dear sister. I was touched by your comments. You once began writing. I hope you still continue.
It was painful to learn of the passing of your father, Byron L. Krieger, who was one of the most exceptional Wayne State alumni I’ve had the honor and pleasure to meet.
Byron was a wonderful example of how talent and hard work can lead to excellence. As a student he thrived, but it was as an athlete that he truly shone. He was named All-American at Wayne State, becoming our first NCAA champion in foil. Despite the many demands on his time, Byron was a devoted member of the jewish community as well.
I feel privileged that I had the good fortune to meet Byron before his passing, and was especially touched to learn of the letter he had planned on sending to me. His generous praise for Wayne State student-athletes will not soon be forgotten.
Please accept my deepest and heartfelt condolences on your tremendous loss. May fond memories of your father’s remarkable life sustain you in your time of grief.
I love the quote you included from the letter you wrote to your father on his birthday before he died. I think a lot of people do let their loved ones know how deeply they feel about them while they are still alive, but perhaps a lot also don't. I was very happy that I wrote a couple of things for my blessed grandmother - my best friend - to read while she was still alive. Yours is a WONDERFUL way to not just keep your father's memory alive - but to introduce him and his values to those who never knew him personally.
I was deeply saddened to hear of your father's passing. I have fond memories of your father, including how he helped my parents with an IRS audit a long time ago. Please accept my condolences and may you, your siblings and your mother be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.
Barbara and I were so pleased to hear that Evelyn and her siblings have created a website and scholarship in memorial to Byron, of blessed memory. We would like to share with all the thoughts that I expressed on that sad day when Byron was buried in Safed, Israel.
It is with a very heavy heart to find myself here today remembering Byron, standing in for so many members of his family and many friends. Byron was a very special person to me and Barbara, my wife, as he is the father of our first very wonderful daughter-in-law. All of Shoshana’s many fine attributes so clearly stem from her mother and father, now of blessed memory.
We remember very clearly our first meeting, the carefully choreographed encounter that children arrange for the first meetings of prospective in-laws. Ari, our son, and Shoshana, Byron and Ruth’s daughter, left no detail to chance. We were struck by his warmth and cordiality, his passionate interests in Israel and Judaism, and his calm demeanor. A year later, we were great partners in wedding planning. We have enjoyed two decades of sharing the nachas of watching our children build their family. At each visit, Byron was always the one with camera in hand, capturing the picture perfect moments of the families. The grandchildren would always want him to read books.
Let me add a few words about Byron’s journey through life. By age, he was 20 years older than us, a bridge to my parent’s generation. He grew up in an era where American Jews were just beginning to imagine themselves excelling in any endeavor, but having to overcome many barriers. By the unusual combination of natural athletic talent and fascination with sabers and foils, he and a friend taught themselves how to fence in middle school. Byron’s natural talent caught the attention of a first class coach and expert in high school, and by age of 16, he was competing for the Michigan State Championship. A few years later, he became the NCAA (American college) foil champion. These accomplishments led him to Pan-American medals and membership on the US Olympic Teams of 1952 (Helshinki) and 1956 (Melbourne). But maybe of more import to his future resting place, in 1957, he first came to Israel and won the Gold and Bronze medals in foil at the Maccabiah Games here.
He met his bashert Ruth and together they began a journey of increasing yedisdkit observance. He shared with her the tasks of building and sustaining the Jewish community. They were among the founding members of Young Israel of Southfield-Detroit and later Chabad of West Bloomfield.
We will remember him always with a smile on his face, kind and friendly, a loving father and grandfather and a dear friend."
David and Barbara
November 11, 2015