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Harry B. Swerdlow


1918 - 2016 Obituary Condolences
Harry B. Swerdlow Obituary
May 17, 1918 - May 20, 2016 Harry Swerdlow (nee Massarsky) passed away on May 20th, 2016 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was born on May 17th,1918 in Manhattan, New York, the son of Russian immigrants Charles Massarsky and Bessie Swerdlov. He and his younger brother Julius grew up in Rockaway Beach, New York, in a labor union family, at a time when laborers and their organizers faced substantial hardships. He attended the workmen's circle school for six years and became proficient in reading and writing Yiddish. Until his maternal grandmother was killed by the Nazis in 1941, Harry wrote numerous letters to her in Yiddish. Harry graduated from elementary school in Rockaway in 1930 after skipping two grades, then from Far Rockaway High School in 1934 and City College of New York in 1938. While attending City College, he worked six nights a week at Radio City Music Hall in order to support his family. He went on to study American Literature at Cornell University where he earned his Master's degree in 1940. Harry entered Columbia Law School in the Fall of 1940, and was elected to the Law Review in June, 1941. In July of 1941, while at law school, his father died. Because of the death of his father and in order to support his family, Harry turned down the invitation for law review and while still attending Columbia Law School, took a job serving as a Clerk in the Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department in New York City. He completed his law studies by Thanksgiving, 1942 and immediately enlisted in the U.S. Maritime Service. In June, 1943, Harry met Edith Luftman, the woman of his dreams. She was with him a month later, when he was admitted to the New York State Bar. Harry was honorably discharged from the Maritime Service in the Fall of 1943 due to a severe illness. On advice from his doctors, he left New York and began full-time work with the Anti-Trust Division of the Justice Department, in Denver, Colorado in January, 1944. After leaving the Justice Department in 1946, Harry moved to California to practice law, first as an associate in the firm of Loeb & Loeb (where later he became a junior partner) and then as one of the founding partners of Swerdlow, Glikbarg & Nicholas, subsequently known as Swerdlow, Glikbarg and Shimer. Harry earned a reputation as a brilliant and highly ethical lawyer and anti-trust litigator, and was elected to the American College of Trial Lawyers in 1976. Harry's deeply-rooted appreciation for the working men and the problems they faced was an integral part of his being. Thus, he represented labor unions on a pro-bono basis and a rebel musician's union as part of his practice. His law practice allowed him to play a critical role in several important events in American history, including the Manhattan Project and the Watergate trials. Of great importance to Harry was the remembrance of his relatives and other Jews and non-Jews murdered by the Nazis and Stalinists, and the survival of the State of Israel. Harry and Edith were married in 1948, and were soul mates for the next 68 years. They shared a love of law, literature, social justice and raising a Jewish family. It was of great importance to Harry that he was home to share the Jewish Sabbath on Friday night with his family, and thus would return home Friday nights from wherever he was working in the U.S. Harry and Edith were blessed with four sons: Charles, Barry, Jonathan, and Neal, and with ten beautiful grandchildren: Laurel, Ethan, Gabriel, Daniel, Mark, Leora, Michael, Ari, Alexander, and Jaret. Harry shared with his children and grandchildren his dedicated work ethic, passions for American history, reading and sports, and delighted his children and grandchildren with his spellbinding abilities as a storyteller. On Valentine's Day, 2016, Columbia Law School honored Harry and Edith as the school's longest-living love-birds. During Harry's last years, Harry had serious medical problems. Edith worked tirelessly to maintain his quality of life, and to ensure that he was able to spend his last days in his home, with his family. He left life as a man loved deeply for his wisdom, kindness, and compassion and an ability to elevate all around him to become better human beings.
Published in the Los Angeles Times from Sept. 16 to Sept. 18, 2016
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