Gerda F. Newbower 2/6/1910 - 5/7/2012 age 102, Gerda F. Newbower, former Chief Probation Officer for Fulton County of New York State, passed away on May 7, 2012 at age 102, at her assisted-living facility in Tucson, Arizona. She was born in Vienna, Austria in 1910. Her life was shaped by the major events of the twentieth century, from the turmoil of WWI and its aftermath of hunger and hyperinflation in Europe, to the rise of antisemitism in subsequent years, followed by her eventual narrow escape in 1938 from Austria to America after the Nazi "Anschluss". Her self-published memoir "And May God Protect Austria", written in her later years, chronicles the extreme risks and the moments of grace that made exodus possible for her and Leo, her husband. As a graduate from the University of Vienna School of Law, she had used her remarkable negotiating skills, at the young age of 28, to accomplish the release of Leo from a Nazi jailing. Together they then navigated the tenuous moments of an escape to Italy, then England, and ultimately to America. Gerda and Leo established a good new life in Gloversville, NY, home of many immigrants from Europe who helped build a strong and productive community that had, at its peak, more than 100 mills and factories making leather goods for the world. In a career forged with her determination and her legal education, she rose from her first American job as a bookkeeper for Grandoe Glove Company, to her eventual executive position for the Probation Department of the State of New York. Leo rose from his entry-level job in the glove industry to use his art-school education as the head designer for Crescendoe Gloves, the largest firm of its time. During her working years and in retirement, Gerda served on many volunteer committees and Boards in service to the Gloversville and Johnstown communities as well as to the Knesseth Israel Synogogue. She was a tireless participant in civic economic development efforts during the difficult years of decline in the domestic leather industry, as well as a pioneering advocate for alternative sentencing for juveniles. Her volunteer work was honored in several ways, including the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Award from the League of Women Voters. After Gerda's retirement in 1977 and Leo's death in 1981 from ALS, she moved to Tucson in 1999, motivated by her love for nature and the beauty of its surroundings. She was always up for a spirited political debate, was still teaching bridge to (younger) fellow residents until her 100th year, and loved participating in adult education courses in history and politics, contributing richly to their discussions from her own life's powerful experiences. Her 100th birthday was joyously celebrated in 2010 in her independent-living community in Tucson. That party was attended by her family from around the country, including her two adult grandsons, as well as by many local friends. Though her health declined after age 100, she never gave up her love of good food, fine chocolate, and fresh raspberries. She leaves behind her son, Ronald Newbower of Acton, MA, her daughter-in-law Donna; her beloved grandsons, David Newbower of Boston and Daniel Newbower of Los Angeles and her great-granddaughters, Elsa Newbower and Isadora Newbower. Donations in her name may be made to the Fulton County High School Art Show Committee, c/o the First Congregational Church, 31 E. Fulton Street, Gloversville, NY, 12078. Arrangements by BRING'S BROADWAY CHAPEL. Please visit www.bringfuneralhome.com/obituaries
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Published by Arizona Daily Star on May 20, 2012.