SPRINGFIELD - Ethel Silver Gingold, 93, of Springfield died Saturday, July 28, 2012.
She was born November 23, 1918, in Terre Haute, IN, the daughter of Philip J. and Fay Workens Silver. She was preceded in death by her parents and her sisters, Reba Silver, Beatrice Siegel and Polly Myers.
At the height of the Depression, Ethel's parents saw to it that she and her three sisters received a college education. As she stated, "My parents instilled in all of us a love for books, knowledge, and learning that would last a lifetime." Ethel believed that "every experience, no matter how bad, should be a growing and learning experience." Her mission in life was to "work to make this earth a better place for all individuals; an earth without hatred, antipathy and wars." She counted each day as a true blessing and always referred to her three children as "my greatest blessings."
In 1940 Ethel received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. In 1973 she received a Master of Arts in Justice and Social Order and in 1979 a Master of Arts in Human Services from Sangamon State University (now the University of Illinois at Springfield).
She was active in many social justice organizations during her life, including the League of Women Voters, NAACP, American Civil Liberties Union, Planned Parenthood, Urban League, Common Cause, Southern Poverty Law Center, Amnesty International, Council for Handgun Control, Springfield Public Defender Research Committee, and the Coalition to Promote Human Dignity and Diversity. In addition she was a member of the Springfield Jewish Federation, Hadassah, Temple B'rith Sholom Sisterhood, the Springfield Boys and Girls Club, Big Brother/Big Sister, Springfield and Illinois Human Relations Commissions, State of Illinois Prisoner Review Board, and the Illinois Department of Corrections Adult Advisory and Administrative Review Board.
She was the recipient of the 1976 NAACP Webster Memorial Plaque, awarded for her "many years of dedication in pursuit of equality in housing, employment, education and justice." In 1986 the Illinois Corrections Association honored her for "long-standing involvement and outstanding contributions to criminal justice and the field of corrections." In 1994 Ethel was honored as an "Illinois Treasure" by the Illinois Alliance for Aging for her leadership and dedication in the fields of civil rights and civil liberties, particularly concerning women, minorities and people living in poverty.
The Roger Baldwin Foundation of the ACLU presented the 1995 Annetta Dieckmann Volunteer Award to Ethel for her outstanding efforts as a decades-long volunteer leader of the local chapter. The ACLU noted: "Ethel Gingold's boundless energy and tireless efforts have made her a real treasure." This award was accompanied by a scholarship presented by the ACLU in Ethel's name. The UIS Ethel Gingold Scholarship is an annual award for undergraduate students attending the University of Illinois-Springfield.
Ethel received the Loyalty Award from the University of Illinois at Springfield in 2000 and was a life member of the UIS Chancellor's Capital Council. She was named the 2003 Copley First Citizen of Greater Springfield. In 2007 Ethel was the first ever recipient of the University of Illinois Humanitarian Award, presented to those who, through their outstanding involvement and dedication, have made a significant contribution of leadership or service which has improved or enriched the lives of others and the welfare of humanity.
Ethel's life was exemplified by her commitment to fight for social justice. In 1975 after Ethel's divorce from local real estate developer Bill Gingold, she started a one-woman campaign to become the first female member of the all-male Sangamo Club. "They told me that because I was no longer the wife of a member, I wasn't allowed…I really used that club because I was active in lobbying for open housing at the State Capitol nearby…I went around to every woman legislator and got their promise to boycott the Sangamo Club. I wasn't going to let them exclude me solely on the basis of my gender." Ethel's persistence paid off and the club opened its doors to women members. She said, "I don't claim that I'm the one who made it better, but it sure does feel good to know that the door is open to everyone…I love going there. Besides, I can't cook."
Ethel is survived by her children, Janet Gingold of Tucson, John Gingold of San Diego and Susan Gingold of New Orleans; four grandchildren, Melisa (Andy) Ryan, Matt (Allison) Nathanson, Kathryn (Jake) Alter and John (Meg) McElwain; four great-grandchildren, Jake, Lindsey and Samantha Ryan, and Lily Nathanson; and several nieces and nephews.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the UIS Ethel Gingold Scholarship fund or any of the organizations listed, or to a
A celebration of Ethel's life will be held Friday, August 3 at 11 a.m. at Bisch & Son Funeral Home, 505 E Allen St. Springfield, IL 62703. A memorial gathering will be held from 10 a.m. until the time of services. Rabbi Michael Datz will officiate the services.
Please sign the online guestbook at www.bisch andsonfuneralhome.com.