Fred Adler died on April 20 at age 91. He was a World War II hero who will best be remembered for his warm personality and infectious smile.
Born on Aug. 19, 1920, in Reteag, Romania, Adler lost both parents during the Holocaust. When the Nazis began deporting Jews to Auschwitz, he escaped by jumping over the fence of his labor camp and running to freedom. Rather than remain in hiding, he put himself at great risk by working with Swiss diplomat Carl Lutz to issue protective letters that would save the lives of dozens of Jewish families. After the war, Adler was trapped in communist Romania for 25 years before coming to Los Angeles, where he was reunited with his sister and her husband, Hedy and Ted Orden. As a 50-year-old who did not speak the language, Adler began working as a gas station attendant at Thrifty Oil; he worked at the company for his remaining 41 years and eventually became an integral part of the management team.
He is survived by his wife, Elise, who is also a Holocaust survivor; son, Ervin; daughter-in-law Gabi; and grandsons Alex and Ari. Despite his wartime heroics, Fred always considered his family his greatest accomplishment.