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Clara Rona

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Clara Rona Obituary
Clara Rona, a beautiful lady, died peacefully in her sleep on January 30, 2016, at the age of 95.
Clara was born to Mary and Joseph Schlesanger in Pecs, Hungary on November 13, 1920. She was a much loved and somewhat spoiled only child. Her father owned a butcher shop which had been in the family for several generations. Her mother wanted her to be brought up as a lady, and so Clara took piano lessons and learned to play Chopin and Beethoven. She went to the symphony and to the ballet. What Clara really wanted to do was to go on to the gymnasium and to the university. She was very smart and wanted to study. But her family said "no". Girls didn't need to study.
Education continued to be the thing Clara most valued in life. She often remarked that money came and went but education stayed a part of you. Clara became a voracious reader and continued to be one until the end of her life.
In 1944 on March 17th, a Sunday, the Germans occupied Hungary. Clara pleaded with her father to go somewhere, but he said there was nowhere to go.
Then her whole world changed. Soldiers came to their home and packed up their belongings. The family was put in a stall with horses. She saw her father beaten. A week later they were put on a train - packed like sardines - 100 to a car. Her father's best friend, standing next to them died. Three days later they arrived in Auschwitz. Clara never saw her parents again. From Auschwitz Clara was taken to another concentration camp called Bergen-Belson. Clara was then taken to another place called Marclaben where she was forced by the Nazi's to work in an airplane factory. Clara's job was to carry coal.
On April 13, 1944, the Germans started to evacuate the camp. Clara and the rest of the prisoners were taken at night with no food or clothes (some had a blanket). They were ordered to line up to be counted. They walked, mostly at night. If people were unable to walk, they were shot. Clara was able to be with a family friend, Frieda and at one point when Clara had to go into the bushes, Frieda told her to stay there and not come out until everyone left. The two spent four nights on the road.
They came to a village. They went into a small house where a woman gave them food and clothes. The woman told them the war was over.
Clara and Frieda kept walking; there was chaos everywhere. They finally walked into a town with a chocolate factory. They were so starved for sweets Clara climbed into a barrel to get some chocolate. She got stuck and they had to break the barrel to get her out. But they were laughing because they were free.
They finally got to Budapest. There they found a Jewish organization where they were put in touch with people they had known. Clara went back to Pecs where there was a cousin of her father named Rosa.
Clara found out that her mother's brother who was a physician had gone to Israel. He was looking for her and brought her to Haifa. Her uncle found her a job cleaning offices after hours. Clara did go to school and learned Hebrew and became a business woman, making and selling sandwiches. She called her little business Clara Mesada.
They lived near a Hungarian quarter. Clara went to a party and met her future husband, Carl whom she fell in love with. He would play bridge, and she would sit next to him until finally he noticed her. They were married in Haifa in 1953 and lived there for two years. Later they moved to Montreal to be near family. Carl couldn't find a job in Montreal but was offered a wonderful opportunity in Toledo.
Clara and Carl remained very close to the family in Montreal. When her nephew, Ricky came here to school, she cooked for him, cleaned for him - he complained that she was too overprotective. But she loved him so much. Ricky and his brother, Tommy were the children she never had.
Carl's family considered Clara to be one of them and even when Carl passed away in 2007, continued to take care of her.
Clara was predeceased by her parents and her beloved Carl.
She is survived by her loving family, Andrew Liebmann (Annette), Richard Liebmann (Tamara), Maya Liebmann, Izabel Liebmann, Thomas Liebmann (Sheri), Jill Liebmann and Joey Liebmann, all of Montreal, Canada, and Szekely Andras of Budapest, Hungary.
Clara had many friends in Toledo, all of whom she considered her daughters and sons. She will be dearly missed.
A memorial service will be held at a later date.
Published in Toledo Blade on Jan. 31, 2016
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