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Jona Goldrich


1927 - 2016 Obituary Condolences Gallery
Jona Goldrich Obituary
September 11, 1927 - June 26, 2016 Iconic Los Angeles-based developer and Holocaust survivor Jona Goldrich passed away on Sunday June 26th at the age of 88. Jona is survived by his wife of 56 years Doretta, brother Avraham in Tel Aviv, daughters Melinda Goldrich and Andrea Goldrich Cayton, son-in-law Barry Cayton and grandchildren, Garrett, Lindsay and Derek. Jona was born September 11, 1927 into a warm and loving home in Turka (Lvov), Poland. His parents instilled in him a strong set of Jewish values, a foundation of perseverance, a thirst for knowledge and a philanthropic obligation. Every Friday evening his parents Sender and Elza would invite those less fortunate into their home for Sabbath dinner and Elza would bake extra Challah to give out to the hungry. Jona's idyllic life was turned upside down in 1939 when the Soviets invaded Poland only to be driven out by the Nazi's in 1941. In the summer of 1942 Jona and his brother Avraham (Bumek) were smuggled out of Poland via Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Syria and Lebanon, eventually settling in a school for children in Haifa, Israel. Jona's parents, his older brother Eizo and his extended family were supposed to soon follow but they succumbed to the Nazi genocide. Once in Israel, Jona's improvisational and entrepreneurial skills flourished as Jona worked as an auto mechanic during the day and a taxi driver at night all while studying at the esteemed Technion University in Haifa. Somehow while juggling all of that, Jona's desire for leadership was evidenced by his additional responsibility as apprentice union head for the General Federation of Labor, Israel's principal labor union. Jona was proud of his service fighting in an elite commando unit during Israel's War of Independence as the only non-Sabra. Jona served as an engineer in the Israeli navy and as a merchant marine. In 1951 while in port in New York City, Jona's employer went on strike. The Israeli Consulate General arranged to have Jona along with 170 others transferred to Ellis Island whereby Jona was able to obtain a visa and remain in the United States. Jona dreamt of attending MIT but when MIT refused to admit Jona due to his poor English skills, Jona set out by Greyhound bus from Boston to Southern California due to its similar climate to Israel with only $50 in his pocket. Jona worked as an auto mechanic for a car dealership but soon began installing window screens on the tract homes that were proliferating during the mid 1950's throughout Los Angeles. In 1954, Jona created a construction site clean-up business and at the age of 29 built his first apartment building. Soon after, Jona met Sol Kest and created their eponymous company Goldrich & Kest. Together, Sol and Jona developed hundreds of diverse developments from high-rise apartment towers, for-sale housing, marinas, industrial buildings, shopping malls and leased guest homes. Goldrich & Kest were early proponents of affordable housing in California and have built and managed tens of thousands of units over the years. Jona's business motto was, "Don't tell me how much money I'm going to make, tell me how much I could lose." In addition to Jona's real estate success, he continued the family legacy of "tikun olam" or repairing the world. He led by example creating the Goldrich Family Foundation, which furthers efforts to cure disease, supports local schools and international universities, promotes social justice, and most importantly supports Holocaust remembrance and awareness. Jona was also a pillar of the Jewish community. His crowning achievement was creating the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust in Pan Pacific Park so that future generations can learn about the atrocities the Nazi's committed with the hope that they are never repeated. Jona has received countless awards and accolades from such organizations such as the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles, California State Assembly, County of Los Angeles, City of Los Angeles, Pacific Coast Builders Conference, National Conference of Christians and Jews, Boy Scouts of America and the California Humanitarian Foundation for Holocaust Survivors. Jona endowed The Goldreich Family Health and Fitness Center, Goldreich Multipurpose Sports Center, Goldreich Chair in International Business, and Goldreich Family Institute for Yiddish Language at Tel Aviv University in honor of his parents and brother. The University bestowed upon Jona an honorary degree. Jona will be missed by many and remembered always. Jona was an avid skier; tennis, backgammon and poker player and always had a smile on his face. Funeral services will be held at 10AM Wednesday June 29th at Mt. Sinai Hollywood Hills. In lieu of sending flowers, the family kindly requests that contributions be made to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust located at 100 S. The Grove Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90036.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on June 28, 2016
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