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Jewish Journal

L.A. Mourns Loss of Two Leaders

by Jewish Journal Staff

June 20, 2002 | 8:00 pm

Isadore Familian

Isadore Familian, an industrialist and longtime supporter of Jewish institutions such as the University of Judaism and City of Hope, died on June 13. He was 90.

Familian, a Chicago-born son of Russian immigrants, came to Los Angeles in 1913 at the age of 2. He dropped out of Roosevelt High School at 16 to work for the family business, Familian Pipe and Supply Co., which later took over Price Pfister Brass Manufacturing Co., and expanded it from 50 to 1,500 employees, turning it into one of the largest manufacturers of brass bath and kitchen hardware in the world.

He was vice president of the UJ and served on the board of directors and various committees since its creation in 1947. In the late 1940s, Familian and his brother, George, also financed the construction of a chapel at Adat Ari El in Valley Village, where he served as president.

In the 1970s, Familian spearheaded a fundraising campaign to build the university's 28-acre Mulholland Drive campus, which is named for Familian and his first wife, Sunny, who died in 1979. Taking a cue from his father, a City of Hope devotee, Familian, who is the honorary lifetime vice president of City of Hope's board of directors, also fundraised for and contributed toward the health of the hospital and research center for more than 60 years. Last fall, a street at the Duarte medical campus was renamed Isadore Familian Way.

Familian is survived by his wife, Shirley; daughter, Sondra (Marvin) Smalley; son, Gary (Theresa); stepchildren, Edie Bronson and Richard Baskin; nine grandchildren; and eight great-grandchildren. - Staff Report

Dr. Max Vorspan

Dr. Max Vorspan, a rabbi, professor and senior administrator at the University of Judaism (UJ), founder of the Pacific Southwest Region of the United Synagogue for Conservative Judaism and co-author of "The History of the Jews of Los Angeles," died June 13 at the age of 86.

Born in St. Paul, Minn., Vorspan was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York. He began teaching at the UJ in 1953 and helped oversee its growth as both a professor of American Jewish history and in administrative posts, including executive dean, provost and senior vice president.

In 1970, Vorspan, with Lloyd P. Gartner, wrote the "The History of the Jews of Los Angeles." He also hosted UJ's weekly public affairs television show, "Commitment." In addition to his work at the university, he served the Jewish community in Los Angeles as associate director of the Brandeis Bardin Camp Institute and as a board member of The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

UJ President Dr. Robert Wexler recalled Vorspan's passionate advocacy for community, championing arts programs, adult education and volunteerism at the university. Wexler noted that when Vorspan delivered eulogies himself, he "emphasized the positive in each person's life. Let's just be thankful for the more than 80 years of wisdom, wit and wonderment that he shared with us all."

Vorspan is survived by wife, Sandy; son, Rabbi David (Bonnie) Vorspan; daughter, Dr. Rachel (Ed) Purcell; four grandchildren; and brothers, Al and Chet. -- Mike Levy, Staff Writer

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