Michael Dziengel passed away peacefully on December 14, 2013. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Nancy, his daughter and son-in-law Esther and Woody Fox, his grandchildren Cari and Jack Brandt, Lisa and Eric Cohen, his great-grandchildren, Ryan and Morgan Brandt, Tyler and Clay Cohen. He is also survived by his sister-in-law Pauline Fishel, his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Harry and Rose Melnick and sister-in-law and brother-in-law, Jennie and Jimmy Ormsby and numerous nieces and nephews.
Michael was born in Pultusk, Poland on February 25, 1922. He was 17 years old in 1939 when Germany invaded Poland. In addition to his parents Michael had two older brothers and two younger sisters. His eldest brother had a wife and four children. Michael became a Holocaust survivor at this young age when his entire family was killed at Treblinka by the Nazis. Michael survived because he helped Dina Melnick and her five children escape from Pultusk. The oldest of Dina's five children, Nancy, who was 13 when they left Poland, became Michael's wife 5 years later.
After taking the Melnick family to Wyszkow, Michael tried to go back to Pultusk to rescue his own family. The bridges were bombed and he was told that if he went back to Pultusk he would be killed because it was already in German control. From Wyszkow they went to Wegrow and then to Bialystok which was in Russian control. From Bialystok they rode on a train for 3 weeks to arrive in Orsk, Russia on January 1, 1940.
In Russia Michael worked as a truck driver in order to help support Dina and her children. On June 22, 1944 Michael married one of Dina's daughters, Nancy, with whom he had fallen in love. Two years later their daughter, Esther was born in January of 1946. Nancy's father had already immigrated to the United States and lived in Houston. He was arranging to bring his family to Houston. Michael, Nancy, Esther and the rest of the family left Russia and returned to Poland to find Michael's family. They learned that none had survived. They then lived in a relocation camp in Germany until 1948. Dina and her four other children were able to come to Houston. Michael, Nancy and Esther went to Cuba to live until they could get visas to immigrate to Houston. They lived in Cuba until 1951when they were able to come to live in the U.S.
Michael was a true hero who could not save his own family, but the family he did save became his family. After arriving in Houston, he worked with his father-in-law in the used car business until he started his own car dealership in 1972. He and Nancy worked together in the business until they closed the business in 1999. After that they were also affiliated with Houston Auto Auction for many years.
Michael's greatest joy was his family. The happiest times in his life were spent with his grandchildren and great-grandchildren. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He was always joking with friends and family and would make everyone laugh. Although Michael had a limited formal education through his life experience he became fluent in five languages - Yiddish, Polish, Russian, Spanish and English. His Judaism was a very important part of his life. He attended morning minyans at United Orthodox Synagogue throughout his life.
The funeral will be held at the Beth Yeshurun cemetery on Post Oak on Monday, December 16 at 1:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to United Orthodox Synagogue, Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Holocaust Museum Houston or a charity of your choice
Published by Houston Chronicle on Dec. 15, 2013.