Gladys Glaubman Siegel, beloved mother of Mark Siegel, daughter of Joseph and Gussie Glaubman, and sister of Milton Glaubman, died peacefully at age 97. She was a remarkable woman, possessed of extraordinary courage and determination, and gifted with a generosity of spirit, openness to others and an intuitive intelligence. She leaves behind a grieving son and four loving grandchildren, along with a grieving extended family.
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Gladys's special blend of courage and determination were first evident when she was only nine months old and stricken with polio. Not expected to live, much less walk, Gladys not only survived her stay in an early version of an iron lung, but eventually learned to walk and later, in mid-life, to drive a car – despite her limited use of only one arm.
Physical limitations never mattered much to Gladys. When her boyfriend, Seymour, returned from World War II a double-amputee, Gladys embraced him and married him on a weekend visit to an Army hospital in Augusta, Georgia. Gladys believed in her heart that two physically handicapped people could make up for each other's perceived limitations.
Following their marriage, Gladys and Seymour moved to Los Angeles to set up the western branch of Gladys's father's business, American Food Laboratories, Inc. Against the odds and with no family in Los Angeles, they succeeded together. In 1951, they were blessed with a son, who would remain a source of happiness and pride to Gladys throughout her life. Although Gladys and Seymour eventually divorced, Gladys elected to remain in Los Angeles, and there, she continued to help build the company her immigrant father had founded.
As a single divorced mother and career woman, Gladys was – in the late 1950's and 60's – a trailblazing example of the independent working woman. But this was no surprise to her family – as she had been the first woman to graduate college – an especially difficult accomplishment when physical handicaps were kept private and there were no special accommodations for the disabled.
Although busy with a career, Gladys was always a giving person, taking care of her community. She was one of the founding members of Adat Ari El Temple (then known as Valley Jewish Community Center or "VJCC") and, following the sale of the family business, spent more than 20 years working as a volunteer at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
But just as important to Gladys was her devotion to her family, which she demonstrated by attending Cub Scouts, Little League and countless other activities with her son.
Of course, not all was serious with Gladys. She loved a good song, and even more, she loved telling a story with a wry laugh – for her a Barbra Streisand song or a Sophie Tucker-type story would always make her smile. She also loved a good meal complimented with a Baileys or even a "Vodka Gimlet on the sweet side".
In addition to family, Gladys was blessed to have the companionship and care of her dear friend, Edna Woodley, for almost 45 years. They shared many good times together, including legendary trips to Las Vegas. In her later years, Edna cared for Gladys with a saint-like love and devotion.
The family thanks Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Jewish Home for the Aging for their care. Services for Gladys were private. The family suggests that expressions of love in the form of donations may be made to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center or to the Jewish Home for the Aging.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Jan. 9 to Jan. 13, 2013