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Gerald Bension Ames


1937 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Gerald Bension Ames Obituary
March 21, 1937 - October 6, 2016 Gerald Bension Ames passed away in his home in Los Gatos on October 6, 2016; his family was with him, arriving to his side from Los Angeles, New York, Hawaii, and points closer by, to be with him and to say goodbye. Jerry was a rock of stability and love and generosity for those in stormier seas, always warm, easy-going, with an infectious laugh and a fearless sense of humor. A bookworm from a young age, avid Courtside tennis buff, and a prankster - Jerry went through life with a brick-sized history book in one hand, a gong handle in the other, a tennis bag strapped over his shoulder, and two heavy briefcases packed with legal files in the trunk of his Cadillac. Locals may have recognized his Cadillac by the mysterious "AMZALAK" license plate. He was born on March 21, 1937 in Brooklyn, into an international home, Sephardic and European Ashkenazi. His father, Dr. Edward Ames, was born Edward Amzalak in Gibraltar in 1894 and raised on the Amzalak family estate in Jaffa in Israel, before emigrating to the US in the 1920s. A surgeon by training, Jerry's father arrived in New York City in a time of intense anti-Semitism, and so changed the family name to Ames and became a family doctor because foreign Jews were restricted from working as surgeons. His mother Violette was from Vienna, educated in France, before emigrating to the US in the early 1930s where she met Edward. Between them they spoke over half a dozen languages - French, Spanish, Arabic, Hebrew, German, Ladino, English. When Jerry was four, his family moved to Los Angeles to the Fairfax District. The next year, his first day of school, his teacher took Jerry by the hand and walked him home, to tell his mother, "Jerry doesn't understand a word of English. He seems to only know French." From that moment on, his parents tried to speak only in English (except during heated discussions) to make sure their children, Jerry and his younger sister Adrienne, grew up red-blooded Americans. Jerry never spoke a foreign language again after that, but he excelled in school: class president of his high school, B.A. in history from UCLA, and a JD from Stanford Law School. Jerry loved the law and was an old-school lawyer, practicing in many disciplines over his nearly fifty year career in San Jose. And he loved books: the thicker and denser the book, the more Jerry enjoyed it-including his famous ten-ton dictionary, which he keeps on a pedestal in his home. Jerry passed these traits on to his sons Scott, an attorney in Los Angeles; and Mark, a journalist and author in Long Island City. As Jerry's sons were moving into their professional lives, he met and married his dream librarian, Judy Marlin, and her two children Elizabeth and Michael. Jerry continuously amazed Judy with boundless and cheerful love for her. And Elizabeth and Mike will always remember Jerry's generosity, patience, humor and love for them. When one remembers Jerry one remembers his laugh, and his sense of humor and quick wit, which were a way of life for him. Humor made us all feel more at ease, soothed us when we were discomforted; humor brought relief and warmth in an existence which he knew could be harsh and painful. And if humor wasn't the right medicine, Jerry's patience and loyalty and love and wise counsel were there to help everyone who knew him. He quietly and without fuss rescued many of his loved ones when they were in need, and never asked for anything in return. Jerry liked to laugh just for the sake of it too. He bought a large gold-plated gong and banged it every morning to wake his sons up for school-the resounding gong, a cheerful "Rise and Shine!" and his cheerful laugh eased the misery of early mornings for those of us who aren't morning people. But it was family that was always dearest to Jerry's heart-his sons Scott (and his wife Amy) and Mark (and his wife Anastasia), his grandchildren Gideon and Goldie (Scott) and Samuel (Mark); his wife Judy Marlin, and her children Michael and Elizabeth Johnson; and his extended family Gina Diaz and her children Devon, Giovanni and Giuliana, whom Jerry loved as his own, and who loved him as their own and called him dad and papa until the end; his sister Adrienne Kates, her husband Ronnie and their children Pamela (and her children Evan and Hannah) and Eric (and his wife Michelle and their children Brendan and Lauren). And he loved his friends, whom he kept for life - Donald Moore, his brother from another planet; Dr. Rich Bobis, who was by Jerry's side up to the end; John Vossoughi and his many friends from Courtside. We miss you terribly Jerry. We will never let you go in our hearts and in our memories, in our every day lives, when we laugh and when we cry, and in our sleep when we dream.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Oct. 13, 2016
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