By Deb Silverthorn
Mazal tovs have been abundant for Carol and Steve Aaron as this summer they have celebrated Carol’s 80th birthday and look forward to their 61st anniversary on Saturday.
“We’ve known each other most of our lives and together we’ve created a beautiful family, succeeded in business and become community leaders,” said Carol, who was feted during a Colorado vacation last month with her family all around. “We’ve established roots and lived a life of teamwork.”
The two, separated by three years, both attended Hillcrest High School and met at a B’nai Brith BBG AZA party — she a member of the Jennie Zesmer chapter and he of Rubin Kaplan. After Steve graduated from the University of Texas, they married at Congregation Shearith Israel on Aug. 28, 1960, with Rabbi Hillel Silverman officiating.
Growing up, both families were members of Congregation Shearith Israel, where they remain affiliated, now four generations deep: Steve with parents Sylva and Roy and sister Marsha Stone, all of blessed memory, and Carol with parents Sally and Sam Rosenthal of blessed memory, and sisters Linda Daniel and Michele Levy.
“Carol and Steve have dedicated so much of their lives and energy to building and sustaining our vibrant Jewish community at Shearith Israel and at many Jewish agencies locally and around the world,” said Rabbi Ari Sunshine. “They continue inspiring their children, grandchildren, friends and community members with their ongoing legacy of philanthropy and their passionate caring of our Jewish future. I speak for our entire Shearith family in offering our profound thanks to them both for their efforts. We wish Carol mazal tov on your special birthday and, to you both, mazal tov and the happiest of anniversaries.”
The two started out in an apartment on Gaston Avenue, he first working in his father-in-law’s Samuel’s and Company meat packing business. Steve later started Steven’s Foods, a meatpacking company based in Paris, Texas, later donating the property to Paris Junior College.
In 1980, he founded Stevens Transport, operating a fleet of 13 trucks. The company is now Texas’ largest refrigerated trucking company and the fourth largest privately owned refrigeration company in North America.
While Steve has led the family’s business, Carol has focused on the Dallas Jewish community. Among her commitments have been leadership of the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, Congregation Shearith Israel’s Aaron Family Sanctuary planning committee, the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas and Legacy Midtown Park and Legacy Senior Communities.
The couple has donated generously to many organizations, whose spaces bear their name: The Aaron Family JCC, Aaron Tower of Legacy Midtown Park and the Aaron Family Lobby of the Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum. They are also longtime supporters of the Ann and Nate Levine Academy, ATT Performing Arts Center, Children’s Health/Children’s Medical Center of Dallas, Israel Bonds, UT Southwestern Medical Center and UT Hillel.
“The legacy that Carol and Steve have created in their lifetime, and that will last for many generations to come, is an incredible gift. They know what our community needs, and they help, in every manner,” said Aaron Family JCC CEO Artie Allen. “We are proud to have their name on our agency and we carry it with honor and pride. We are all the better to be a beneficiary of their respect, dignity and never-ending challenge for our whole community to succeed.”
Bill Finkelstein, board chair of the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas, agrees. “Carol and Steve are part of the fabric of our community. Their love and devotion to this community is evident by their boundless energy, passion, commitment and generosity in every project they support. Their optimism is contagious, and one simply cannot say ‘no’ to the Aarons. I’m glad we have Carol and Steve on our team. We wish you both a hearty mazal tov, nachas from your family, and may you share many simchas together until ‘120.’”
Carol marked her birthday with her family in Colorado. Before she left, she was honored by her friends and family in a celebration where she was gifted with a “Tree of Life” sculpture. The piece, by Larry Whitely, was created in honor of Carol’s lifetime of advocating for others, her talent, leadership and philanthropy. The leaves of the tree are inscribed with names of friends and family members and it features eight blooms honoring causes Carol has been committed to.
The legacy of Carol and Steve is carried on through their children Todd (Dawn), Nicole, Angela (Doug French) Horowitz-French, Erica (Craig) Robins and Clay (Tracy) and their grandchildren Morgan Aaron, Bennett (Amanda) Aaron, Molly Aaron, Taylor Blue, Sam Horowitz, Sydney Horowitz, Max Horowitz, Randal Robins, Blake Robins, Kate Robins, Reid Aaron and Davis Aaron. All are excited for Carol and Steve’s first great-grandchild due to arrive this fall.
“Our parents taught us that family and community are paramount and taking care of one another always comes first,” said Angela, she and many of the next generations bringing their own commitment to tzedakah, tikkun olam and chessed to their personal and professional lives. “All throughout our upbringing, we were hands-on learning about helping others.
“We always saw our parents through the company, or in the community, working hard and sharing a sense of purpose in whatever they did. It was, and is, always primary to get up each day, be productive and give 100%,” said Angela. “The work ethic they taught us has served us all well. From the time we were of age we each had jobs and we’re all dedicated to whatever we’re doing.”
The work ethic, purpose to care for others and caring deeply for family resounds through the generations.
“There is no substitute for Sugar in our family recipe. She loves her family and friends incredibly well and every person and their feelings are a priority for her. She is one of the greatest joys in my life,” Morgan Aaron said, calling her grandmother by her beloved nickname. “Her dedication to the Jewish community, and to healing those experiencing trying times, is something that truly has root in her DNA. She is on a radical mission to never have a bad day and truly believes that all things are possible.”
The Aaron grandchildren have followed their grandparents’ philanthropic lead and created Sugar’s Soiree Series at The Legacy Senior Communities.
“Sugar throws a fabulous party and she passed that on to us,” said Sam Horowitz, representing this branch of the family tree, which will be hosting Legacy residents and their own loved ones with entertainment and more at themed events throughout the year. “We’ve all grown up volunteering and spending time at The Legacy Willow Bend and now we’re excited to come in and host events and contribute to this place that is so special to all of us.”
Carol sums up this happy stage in her life: “We don’t have a bucket list because our bucket is full — Steve dedicated to his work and family and my dedication spread amongst my family, the wonderful programs and agencies of our city. Dallas is an incredible place; it’s our home, and we love being a part of it however we can.”