Susan (Polins) Levy left this world Aug. 19, 2022, surrounded by her adoring husband and family. The matriarch and heart and soul of her family, she leaves behind a long legacy of love and dedication to them and her community.
Susan was born on Oct. 7, 1943, in Boston, Massachusetts, to Bernice and Phil Polins. In 1955, she attended the bar mitzvah of Arnold Levy, who was to become the love of her life. After years of dating, they got married in 1964 and moved to Dallas in 1966. As they built their lives and family in Dallas, Susan volunteered her skills and resources to many causes and organizations.
Susan’s involvement in the Dallas Jewish Community had its beginnings at Temple Shalom, where she found fundraising to be her forte — organizing auctions, sample sales and shows, all benefiting the congregation. She served as Sisterhood president and on the Temple board and its executive committee.
But her true passion became the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, where she gave countless hours of her time, always with her signature strength and determination. She spearheaded the Passport to Israel Program; served on the board, the executive committee and the Planning and Allocations Committee; and chaired The Jewish Education Committee, the Women’s Constituency, the Annual Campaign, the Israel Emergency Campaign and Choices (now the Women’s Event). She initiated the Pomegranate Annual Gift Endowment Program (PAGE) and served on the Foundation board. She participated, co-chaired or served as a bus captain in seven missions to Israel. For all of this service and more, she received the Frances Donsky Achievement Award, the Helen Gross Leadership Award and the Kipnis-Wilson/ Friedland Award.
As Susan was developing her volunteer avocation, she was simultaneously building a strong retail career at Neiman-Marcus NorthPark in the couture department. After 15 years of dedicated service to the store and her many clients, Susan went on to work by appointment there as a personal shopper until 2020, at which time she retired.
She was involved and never missed an opportunity to get others involved … even when they didn’t know they should be! Susan had countless friends and relationships from all the various aspects of her full life. She gave all of herself to everyone and everything she touched, especially her family.
Susan’s greatest purpose was always supporting and loving her family and friends. Nana, as she was called by her grandchildren, doted — and bragged — endlessly. She was blessed to have many friends who will miss her dearly.
Susan is survived by her husband of 58 years, Arnold Levy; son Eric Levy and his wife Lissa and daughter Lauren Patten and her husband Chris; her brothers Stan Polins and his wife Michelle and Richard Polins and his wife Wendy; her grandchildren Elie, Max and Teddy Levy and Sammie and Brandon Patten; nephew David Levy and his wife Debby; and her nieces Sophie and Rosie Polins.
A funeral service was held Aug. 22 at Temple Shalom, with Rabbi Andrew Paley officiating.
If inspired to do so, a contribution can be made in her memory to Dallas Jewish Federation, to ovarian cancer research or to the charity of one’s choice.
On August 18, 2022, the world lost a truly remarkable woman. Just three months shy of her 90th birthday, Elizabeth (also known as Liz or Liza) Wolff departed us. She was born in Sered, Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia), to Charles and Anna Tausky; her family moved to Nebojsa, Czechoslovakia, and lived in a hunting castle with her aunt Klari and uncle Pisgah. Another of her uncles was the world- renowned conductor Vilem (Uncle Willie) Tausky, who would go on to become the principal conductor of the BBC Concert Orchestra in England. Liz’s parents were horticulturists, using greenhouses to grow fruits and vegetables and exporting plants. Following the Munich Agreement in 1938, parts of Czechoslovakia were occupied by Nazi Germany and Hungary. Because of where Liz’s father had been born, he was forced to move away from his family and back to Sered. He would surreptitiously ride his bicycle to the border at night to see his wife, who would sneak there to see him. The Tauskys could see the iron grip of fascism taking over Europe, and they knew they had to leave. After applying to several different countries, they were accepted by Canada and packed as much as they could for the journey to Montreal. While the family was en route to Antwerp, Belgium, they were advised that the Canadian consulate was closing. They were accepted into the British consulate and were fortunate to find passage on a ship to London. After a week, they boarded a ship to Montreal. Canada at the time only accepted immigrants who would work in agriculture, and they took work on a farm in Quebec. They later moved to Ontario, where they settled in Grimsby. Liz’s aunt and uncle had stayed behind in occupied Czechoslovakia and were captured by the Nazis. They were taken to the Auschwitz concentration camp, where they were assigned to the labor force. They thankfully survived and later joined the family in Grimsby after the concentration camps were liberated.
Liz graduated from Grimsby High School, where she starred in basketball, and went on to the Toronto General Hospital School of Nursing. She graduated in 1955 as an RN specializing in surgical nursing. She became a traveling nurse and moved to Ohio, to California and finally New York, where she met Helmut Wolff, whose family members were also Holocaust refugees. They married in 1961. That same year, they moved to Dallas, where they would later have and raise their two children, Robert (Bob) and Janice. The couple enjoyed 58 years together before Helmut passed in 2020.
Liz began work in Dallas at the former St. Paul Hospital. After a hiatus to have and raise her children, she resumed work as an operating room nurse at Presbyterian Hospital, where she would stay until retirement. At the request of a former boss, she returned to nursing in the OR at Park Central Surgery Center. She was recognized as one of the 100 Best Nurses in DFW.
Never one to sit idly, she spent countless hours volunteering across the DFW area. She loved classical music and spent over 20 years giving her time to the Dallas Symphony Orchestra at their children’s concerts. She and her daughter volunteered at the Juanita Miller Concerto Competition for over two decades, ensuring that the auditions ran smoothly. Liz tutored remedial reading for DISD middle school students and received an honorary PTA award. She also volunteered for the Dallas White Rock Marathon.
In the early 1970s, Liz started a soccer team for her son and knew she had found her calling. While it was unheard of at the time for a woman to coach a boys’ sports team, she was undeterred. She took coaching courses and earned the United States Soccer Federation “B” license, an impressive achievement. Her daughter, not to be outdone by her big brother, decided she wanted to play soccer as well. There were no girls’ soccer leagues at the time, so Liz started one. The first girls’ team that she coached was the Fighting Bantams, appropriately enough sponsored by a chicken restaurant. The team later evolved into the Apaches. One team grew into two and further growth resulted in the formation of a club. Many of the girls went on to play soccer at Division One colleges and remained in touch with “Mrs. Wolff,” their beloved coach. Liz continued to support women’s soccer by getting involved with the North Texas Women’s Soccer Association, expanding it by over 25 teams and conducting new-player camps. She is in the NTWSA Hall of Fame. Liz also worked with members of the North American Soccer League’s Dallas Tornado to conduct camps and spread the love of the beautiful game. Throughout her coaching career, Liz drove her red 1961 Morris Oxford (Liz and Helmut’s honeymoon car) and was recognized throughout town. The trunk was always stuffed full of soccer balls and goal nets.
When Dallas was named a host city for the 1994 FIFA World Cup, Liz jumped at the chance to get involved. She and one other person started in a two-desk office (in the days before computers and cell phones) and over 1,000 hours later had recruited enough volunteers to successfully host games at the Cotton Bowl. She also recruited Helmut, an icon of the local ham radio community, to help with communications at the Cotton Bowl.
Liz was a master knitter who never watched television without something in her hands. She loved reading and cooking European cuisine. She enjoyed playing bridge with her friends and had a reputation as a mean cribbage player.
Liz and Helmut were regular patrons and donors of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the Plano Community Band (PCB), in which their daughter still plays. They never missed a concert by the PCB and were recognized by all at every event. The couple were integral in the establishment of the new Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, and their stories are recorded in the archives of Holocaust refugees. Liz and Helmut were also longtime members of Temple Emanu-El in Dallas.
Liz is survived by her daughter Janice Wolff, son Robert (Bob) Wolff, his wife Catherine and grandchildren Bryce and Lexie Wolff. She is also survived by her beloved dog Molly.
A memorial service was held on Aug. 22 in the Stern Chapel at Temple Emanu-El in Dallas.
Contributions may be made to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, the Plano Community Band, Temple Emanu-El or the charity of your choice.