Joe Berenter (1921 - 2015)

20 entries
  • "Harriet, How many wonderful memories I have of both you and..."
  • "Joe was a one-of-a-kind man. It was an honor and a pleasure..."
    - Royanne & Alan Minskoff
  • "Mrs. Berenter, Steve and Family. My prayers go out to you...."
  • "A real MENSCH ! Alav ha sholem....... Alan and Mary..."
    - Alan Schwartzman
  • "Dear Harriet...I just heard about Joe's death last night. ..."
    - Donna Price Shines
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Joe H. Berenter
May 23, 1921 - May 4, 2015
Joe Hershel Berenter was born May 23, 1921, at the old St. Alphonsus Hospital in Boise, to David and Anna Berenter of Buhl, Idaho. He passed away on May 4, 2015. His 94 years were spent sharing generously and being of service to those he knew and to many he never met. He loved his family, cherished his friends, served his community and his Jewish congregation, and had a passion for sports, cribbage, poker, dogs, travel, reading, jigsaw puzzles, latkes, and life. We will miss you, Grandpa Joe, and will do our best to honor your legacy.
Joe graduated from Buhl High School in 1939. He attended the University of Idaho, joining the Kappa Sigma Fraternity. He went on to sell produce bags for Friedman Bag Company of Los Angeles for 45 years, based in Twin Falls and later Caldwell. In a 1947 conversation with his friend Milton (Cohen) Cagen, Joe discovered that Milton had a sister in New York. With typical determination, Joe resolved to meet Harriet Cohen. By way of introducing himself, he sent to her home in Brooklyn, New York, a box of Russet potatoes, enclosing a note that he would carry in his wallet to his dying day:
"Dear Miss Cagen: Not brazen, just inquisitive. If you are 25 or under, would not mind starting a correspondence with you. We in the 'West' are something to become acquainted with. Just ask somebody who knows."
Harriet answered him! Delighted, and never a very practical guy, Joe boarded a train to New York. There he met Harriet and married her 9 days later. They moved to Twin Falls, where she quickly overcame her culture shock and they enjoyed 6 years before resettling in Caldwell. For 43 memorable years in Caldwell, he worked as a produce bag Sales Manager and she taught high school. In 1996 they moved to Boise to be nearer to family and Synagogue.
Joe was an active member of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel (and its predecessors) for his entire 94 years. He held several offices on his Synagogue board and was ubiquitous at religious and social gatherings. He was always interested in sports, serving as student manager for athletic teams during his high school and college years. He was the official scorekeeper for the Caldwell Cubs, a Minor League Chicago Cubs team. He supported the Caldwell High School athletic program, keeping score and doing public announcing. A member of the Caldwell Lions Club for over 55 years, he held all offices, including Lions Club president. He was district governor in 1977-78, received the distinguished Melvin Jones Fellow Award, and participated in many international Lions' conventions. He was also president of the Live Foundation, which gave financial help to individuals with disabilities. Joe was politically active and served as Treasurer of the Idaho State Democrats. He delivered Meals on Wheels in Caldwell and Boise for more than 20 years. When he became too old to deliver alone, his grandsons drove him on his familiar route. In 1987, Joe was honored in The Idaho Statesman's "Portrait of a Distinguished Citizen" column. He was humbled to receive awards from the City of Caldwell for his involvement in city affairs, and from the Idaho Shippers Association and Idaho-Oregon Onion Growers Association for his work with onion farmers through the years. In his 80's, he was a reading tutor at Valley View Grade School and was recognized as Outstanding Volunteer of the Year by the Boise School District in 2005. Joe was especially proud when the Wall Street Journal ran a human interest story about his latke-making prowess, for which he deigned to release his recipe. Joe had a talent for detail and an uncanny aptitude for numbers. On recent car excursions to Buhl, he shared a remarkable tour-guide's ability to point out landmarks, historic points of interest, and locally flavored, if slightly bawdy, stories from his childhood. Joe was an active golfer, a poker fanatic, and a formidable opponent at cribbage.
Joe is survived by Harriet, his wife of 68 years; daughter Marcia Berenter and her partner Janice Campbell, Seattle; son Steven Berenter and his wife Sandra of Boise; five loving grandchildren: Jared, Adam, and Jesse Berenter; Alicia Nelson; and Aaron (Sonja) Nelson. Joe has four adoring great-grandchildren: Max, Atlee, Lili, and Jaden; and a dear foster grandson, Alec. Joe will be missed by his dog Mojo, and by many caring nieces and nephews and a host of dear friends. He was preceded in death by his beloved daughter Ilene Berenter Nelson, his parents, and his sisters Muriel and Rose. The family wishes to thank Willow Park Assisted Living, Rabbi Daniel Fink, First Choice hospice, Susi and Jerry Cagen, and Dorothy and Marty Geffon for their help and support during Joe's convalescence. Services will be held on Friday, May 8, at 2:00 p.m. in the Social Hall of Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, 11 North Latah St., Boise. Burial will be in Morris Hill Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, Joe would welcome contributions to the Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel Youth Enrichment Fund; or the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation; or Metro Meals on Wheels of Treasure Valley.
Zichrono liv'rakhá.
May his memory be for a blessing.

Funeral Home
Relyea Funeral Chapel
318 North Latah Street
Boise, ID 83706
(208) 344-4441
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Published in Idaho Press Tribune on May 5, 2015
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