MANDELSTAM--Gloria Messinger, 83, of Manhattan and North Salem, NY, died on March 26, 2013, after a brave battle against a fierce enemy, cancer. Her life ended as it had always been lived: Gloria was strong, uncomplaining, and ceaselessly focused on others. To the end she inspired family, friends, and doctors alike with her grace. Gloria was born on November 28, 1929 in New York City. She was raised in the Bronx. An impassioned Yankees fan who learned from her father to keep a box-score as a child, she attended public school and graduated from William Howard Taft High School. She went on to Smith College (where no Taft graduate had ever before matriculated). At Smith her academic record earned her a place at Yale Law School -- in an era when legal education was still a male preserve -- and in the autumn of 1951 Gloria began her legal studies. She fell in love with the law -- and with her future husband, Charles Lawrence Mandelstam. As befits two intellectuals, they met at Yale's Sterling Law Library. Gloria took her legal diploma into the working world in the summer of 1954. She received many job offers from law firms... to work as a secretary. One organization -- and one alone -- asked her to join its ranks as a lawyer: The American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP). The country's leading music copyright society, ASCAP became the only place Gloria ever worked. For 39 years she devoted herself to the organization she loved, serving as a staff attorney, assistant general counsel, and, eventually, managing director for 12 years -- the first and only woman in ASCAP's history to hold its top position. Intellectual property and copyright law presented Gloria with endless, welcome challenges. In the United States and in negotiations world-wide, Gloria brought passion and expertise to the mission of defending the rights of the creators of music, from Sting to Stravinsky to George Gershwin to Stevie Wonder. After retiring from ASCAP in 1993, Gloria kept one hand in the law by becoming an arbitrator who specialized in copyright cases. She also gave her time to non-profit organizations, serving on the boards of directors of the Yale Law School Fund; the Theatre for a New Audience; and the Brooklyn Philharmonic. In addition, she was a member of the board of directors of the Dreyfus Mutual Funds. More than for her estimable professional accomplishments, Gloria was revered for her human qualities: kindness, generosity, and a readiness to help family, friends, and colleagues. She was unselfish and modest. She had a lively sense of humor and could talk with pop-music celebrities and city bus drivers with equal ease. She had an unerring sense of style and elegance. Among Gloria's greatest joys were travel, theatre, food, and wine. She came to know Paris almost as a second home, and enjoyed few things as much as wandering its lesser-traveled byways and discovering a spectacular cheese shop in the company of her beloved husband. In 1970, together with several American friends, Gloria and Charles bought an interest in a Cote Rotie wine vineyard in France's Rhone Valley that went on to win numerous awards. Closer to home, Gloria's love of the land found full expression in her deep attachment to her weekend home in North Salem, NY. To preserve North Salem's natural beauty, Gloria and Charles were founding members of the North Salem Open Land Foundation (which Charles served pro bono as general counsel for three decades). Gloria was deeply loved by Charles, her husband of 50 years and soulmate (who died in 2007); her daughter Emily Mandelstam; her son Peter Mandelstam; her son-in-law Paul Engelmayer; her daughter-in-law Dawn Drzal; her grandchildren Caroline Engelmayer, William Engelmayer, and Andrew Mandelstam; and the many friends who adored her. At the end of her life Gloria was blessed to be surrounded by her family and the many loving friends whose visits brought laughter and respite. She was especially grateful for the extended gatherings with her beloved law-school roommate, Zipporah Wiseman, who traveled from Texas, and Zipporah's husband Fred Wiseman, who came from France, to be by her side. Like Charles, Gloria will be missed by scores of dear and admiring friends. Gloria's family wishes to acknowledge the extraordinary care that she received from the staff at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Doctors, nurses, members of the janitorial staff -- everyone there was kind and compassionate. The medical treatment Gloria received was outstanding. Gloria's family would also like to thank the four angels who saw Gloria through hospice care at home. Burial will be private. Gloria's life will be celebrated at a gathering on Friday, May 10, 2013 at 6:30pm at the Yale Club (50 Vanderbilt Avenue in New York City). No RSVP is necessary as we honor a remarkable woman. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Theatre for a New Audience or the North Salem Open Land Foundation.
Published in New York Times on Mar. 27, 2013.