Jack Belzacki Bell
Jack Belzacki Bell, a beloved member of the Dallas community, passed away at the age of 79 after a two-year illness. He was born in 1944 in Poland. During World War II, he and his parents fled Nazi persecution. In 1949, they immigrated to the United States through Ellis Island and settled in Dallas. Jack was the youngest Holocaust survivor in Dallas.
Growing up, Jack worked alongside his family at Mister Tuxedo. He met the love of his life, Louise, on a double-date at Il Sorrento, and they enjoyed 54 years of marriage.
Jack attended The University of Texas at Austin, where he majored in “fraternity and good times.” He later graduated from University of North Texas. After graduating from the School of Banking at SMU, he began his career in the banking industry in 1968 at Republic Bank. Later, he found his true calling as a financial advisor at Smith Barney and Merrill Lynch.
Jack was an active member of the community and served as president of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, Temple Emanu-El Brotherhood and several nonprofit organizations. Those who knew Jack will remember him for his dry wit and sarcastic sense of humor and his sense of style as well as his love for rock ‘n’ roll, golf and bourbon. He loved spending time with his family and friends. He was a great dancer and always had a sentimental side.
Jack was preceded in death by his parents, Lola and Frank Bell, and his nephews, Philip Samelson and Zachary Bell.
He is survived by his loving wife, Louise; his two daughters, Catherine and Paulette; twin granddaughters, Lola and Edith; his niece, Lauren Sanders; his nephew, Stanley Bell; as well as his brothers, Harold and David.
Rabbi David Stern officiated at the funeral service April 30, at Temple Emanu-El Cemetery and the memorial service that followed at Temple Emanu-El.
Jack’s memory will live on through the countless lives he touched during his lifetime. He will be deeply missed by all who knew him.
His family is deeply grateful to the caregivers and staff at The Legacy Midtown Park for their compassionate care.
Donations can be made to the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum or Jewish Family Services.
Arrangements provided by Dallas Jewish Funerals.
Tibor Jacob Grunberger, who survived the Holocaust as a child, died Tuesday, April 18, 2023, in Dallas — fittingly on Holocaust Remembrance Day. He was 92.
“He was the bravest, the smartest and the most handsome,” said his cousin, Agnes “Agi” Braun, describing Tibor as a youth. Agi credited Tibor with saving the lives of herself, her newborn son and several other family members during the final months of World War II in Budapest. At 24 years of age, Agi was pregnant and hiding in the basement of a bombed-out hotel after escaping the Nazi ghetto, only to face starvation as the Russian front advanced on the city. Her husband, Petr, had left to fight and ultimately die in the Yugoslav resistance. When the Soviet army finally ousted the Germans, Tibor, only 13 years old, latched on to a ragtag detail of soldiers as an unofficial Hungarian-Russian interpreter. The soldiers paid him with food, which he took back to the shelter he shared with Agi as well as his younger brother Karol and another young cousin, Janos Braun. A jar of eggs one day, strawberry preserves just after the baby came. It was the difference, Agi said, between life and death for herself and her baby, whom she named Tomás.
This was but one of many improbable stories of escape and survival, by luck and courage and an uncanny resourcefulness, that led Tibor from Slovakia to Hungary, and after the war to Israel and eventually the United States. In 1960, he came to Dallas, where he married, raised children and stayed until his death.
Tibor was born Feb. 27, 1931, in Michalovce in what was then Czechoslovakia. He lived with his mother, Szeren; father, Ladislav; and brother, Karol, in close proximity to a large extended family of aunts and uncles and grandparents. He loved visiting his maternal grandparents’ farm on the outskirts of Michalovce, and he said his father, who worked as a notary for the city of Michalovce, “spoiled” him. He was also known from an early age to have a penchant for mischief — often playing hooky from Hebrew school studies to swim in the Laborec river on warm summer days. Most who knew him would say he never grew out of being mischievous.
In 1942, Tibor’s father was deported to a concentration camp in Lublin, Poland, where he died later that same year. His father gave him a gold watch before he was taken. Two years later, Tibor used the watch to escape from the Budapest ghetto, giving it to a truck driver who allowed Tibor, his brother and cousin to ride on the underside of the truck as it carried dead bodies from the ghetto. Another time, Tibor and his brother were living in Budapest with their uncle when a neighbor turned them in. The two boys were detained for several weeks, and then set loose on the border at night in the woods by Hungarian authorities who told them they would be shot if they appeared again on the Hungarian side. And there were more harrowing escapes, in almost all of which Tibor showed an amazing ability to keep his wits and make clever choices under life-and-death pressure.
Tibor was also saved by his proficiency with languages. Because Michalovce lies near the Ukrainian border, Tibor grew up speaking a dialect of Slovak that was very close to Russian. Tibor’s parents, however, spoke Hungarian, an “island” language bearing no resemblance to Russian or other Slavic languages. His fluency in these two idioms allowed him to live without detection under false papers part of his time in Budapest and then to translate for the invading Russian troops at the end of the war. Ultimately Tibor spoke five languages fluently and was conversant in several more.
Tibor lived in Israel for nearly seven years and spent most of that time working as a mechanic in the Israeli Air Force. However, he had always dreamed of being a pilot, and came to the U.S. in 1955 to attend Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, from which he graduated a couple of years later. Unfortunately, due in part to his citizenship status, Tibor could never secure work as a pilot and instead entered the apparel business. For over 35 years he traveled throughout Texas, New Mexico and Oklahoma as a sales rep for dress manufacturers. In 1970, along with his cousin Thomas Dula, he opened Tibor’s, a men’s clothing store in El Paso, which later opened a branch at NorthPark in Dallas. In 1986, he cofounded Focus Apparel Group.
Tibor was an original Dallas Cowboys season ticket holder and rooted passionately for Dallas-area sports teams. He loved the symphony, holding seats for the Dallas Symphony Orchestra for 35 years, and he was also an accomplished ballroom dancer. After his retirement from the apparel business, he traveled extensively on cruise ships as a “dance host.” He met his wife, Ilona, through a Dallas-based dance group. He became involved in events at the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum after its inception and was honored to be a part of the Dallas survivor community.
Tibor will be remembered for many things: his bravery and survival, but also his generosity, sense of humor, love and loyalty to the family and friends who were dear to him. In spite of experiences that could have justified him giving up on humanity, he always found his way forward, always rediscovered enthusiasm. His family is forever grateful.
Tibor was preceded in death by his father; his mother, Szeren Grunberger; brother, Karol Grunberger; and numerous grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who died in World War II, in concentration camps, in ghettos or through illness and maltreatment under Nazi occupation.
He is survived by his wife, Ilona Lyde Grunberger; children, Jennifer Grunberger, Glen Grunberger and Joel Grunberger; stepdaughter Aimee Lyde; former wife, Carol Hutchinson; and three grandchildren: Sue Carol Sedillo (and husband Miles Sedillo), Samuel Grunberger and Esmé Grunberger.
A funeral service was held April 21 at Hillcrest Memorial Park, with Rabbi Andrew Paley of Temple Shalom and Rabbi Kimberly Herzog Cohen of Temple Emanu-El officiating.
In Tibor’s memory, contributions may be made to Jewish Family Services in Dallas, Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum, Legacy at Home, Legacy Hospice or the Alzheimer’s Association.
The family also sends its deepest thanks to the amazing hospice workers, nurses and volunteers who helped Tibor’s final months and days be full of immense kindness and gentle care.
Funeral arrangements made by Dallas Jewish Funerals.