By Deb Silverthorn
Keeping Bob Weinfeld, “Skipper” on the ballfields and “Mayor” at The Legacy Willow Bend, down for long isn’t an easy task. After the lifting of pandemic restrictions on physical distancing and gathering, and he’s very grateful to be out and about again, celebrating his 95th birthday on July 20, with those near and dear.
“My family outdid themselves and being together was what it’s all about,” said Weinfeld, who is in the gym at least three mornings a week, and in bed usually by 10:30 p.m. “I’m the luckiest guy and I really appreciate every single day.”
Opening a box of the “best gift ever,” Bob found well over 100 notes, cards, emailed messages and more from family and friends, from local celebrities and friends around the country.
“I can’t believe it, but this is going to be one of the best scrapbooks ever,” said Weinfeld, whose home office at The Legacy Willow Bend has dozens of scrapbooks chronicling his family, career, his programming and events.
Born on July 20, 1926, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the son of Dottie and Ad, and brother of Joanne, all of blessed memory, Weinfeld moved to New Rochelle, New York, at 11. He studied liberal arts at Hobart College in between two shifts as a neuropsychiatric technician in the Hospital Corps of the U.S. Navy.
Weinfeld was a traveling lingerie salesman for the Van Raalte Company when he and Jean, his bride of 65 years, first met. He then worked for Weldon Pajamas and, in 1964, the family of four, with daughters Brenda and Melissa, moved to Dallas.
Weinfeld’s later career included 47 years at Equitable Life Insurance Company, where he received the company’s Distinguished Service Award, was named to the Equitable Life Hall of Fame and for 20 years he qualified for the industry’s Million Dollar Round Table. For the past decade, he’s worked with the Borden-Hamman Agency, still hosting clients and going into the office on occasion (outside of the pandemic).
“I could never stop working. It’s what I do; whether for the career, or for my community, I’m always working on something,” he said. “Sitting still and me don’t go together so well.”
In Dallas’ Jewish and greater community, Weinfeld is known for his generosity of time and effort. For the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, he still takes on more than 100 cards each year for the Annual Campaign. A longtime board member, he chaired two annual meetings and two Super Sunday events, and co-chaired another over the years. He’s led every aspect of the Men’s Event, was recipient of the Helen Gross Senior Leadership Award and one year secured 400 Annual Campaign gifts. He received the Campaigner of the Year Award in 2006 and, in 2014, it was renamed the Bob Weinfeld Campaigner of the Year Award.
The Weinfelds are among the founding charter members of Temple Shalom. He is a founder, past-president and for more than 20 years program and membership chair of the Brotherhood, which honored him four times as Man of the Year and which now gives out the Weinfeld Scholarship Award.
He is also grateful to be back on the field for the Temple Shalom Softball League, as manager of his beloved Pirates for the 47th year. “I won’t stop until they pull me off the field,” he says.
“It’s simply astounding that so much energy, so many projects, such tireless efforts stem from one amazing soul. Whenever he’s involved with a cause it is for sure a meaningful and important endeavor,” said Temple Shalom’s Rabbi Andrew Paley. “We’re so honored and blessed to have had Bob by our side teaching us, leading us, inspiring us and making us a better community.”
Bob has been dedicated to supporting the Aaron Family JCC, the American Jewish Committee, American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Anti-Defamation League, and ECHAD (senior apartments). He’s a longtime member of the Richardson Texas Lions Club and the Richardson Rotary Club, having served as president of each. He has been a regular at the Aaron Family JCC’s Bagel Run and the Komen Dallas 5k, and participated in the ADL’s Walk Against Hate.
While he is faithful to his community, Bob’s family has always been his priority. He’s rarely missed an activity or program of his daughters and sons-in-law, Baer Ackerman and Ron Bliss, or his grandchildren Benjamin Ackerman, Alan, Brennen and Ryan (Katie) Bliss, Emily (Eduardo) Gildenson and great-granddaughter Lainey Bliss.
“He’s really got nine lives and he just springs back from any challenge, seemingly stronger and more excited about life,” said daughter Melissa Ackerman. “He is a sweet, dear mensch, and what you see is what you get.”
Brenda Bliss echoes her sister’s sentiments: “My dad is my hero and the kindest person I have ever known. He never has a negative word to say about anyone, ever. He really loves life and I wish I could give him 95 more years to live because he would cherish every day as he always has.”
Speaking on behalf of his branch of the family tree, grandson Benjamin touts his best friend. “We talk on the phone every day and he is always so full of joy and happiness. We missed each other a lot this year and not hugging, and getting hugged by him, was a big deal.”
He remembers his grandfather’s golf and baseball lessons and the many times he’d be picked up and taken to tae kwan do and other activities. “He’s the best. That really just sums him up.”