Millie Diamant Silverstein, 98, passed away in Las Vegas, Nevada, on February 22, 2015. Born on December 7, 1916, in the middle of World War I, a Cockney from the east end of London, England, she was of Dutch-, English-, and Portuguese-Jewish descent. At the age of 7, her parents Harry and Elizabeth Garrits Diamant immigrated to the US with her and her older brother Alec, older sister Rachael, and younger brother Louis, first to the South Bronx, where she attended P.S. 20, and then to Brooklyn, where she would graduate from Lincoln HS earning a commercial degree. During World War II, Millie trained for and became a Volunteer Red Cross Nurses’ Aide and was on Civil Defense patrol. After the war, she traveled to and worked in Miami Beach, where she would meet her future husband, Joseph Silverstein, a butcher from Washington Heights, with whom in 1949 she would move to and raise a family of four on Greystone Avenue in the Riverdale section of The Bronx, where she would reside for the next 65 years. From the mid-1960s to about 1990, Millie was employed as a secretary with Yeshiva University.
After her husband, Joseph, passed away and she later retired, Millie continued to work throughout New York City as an “office temp,” and began travelling extensively--often by herself--around the globe, including to Curacao, Israel, England, France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, Hawaii, Alaska, and many places in the contiguous US. During that time, Millie was blessed with seven grandchildren of whom she adored dearly and was always interested in their lives and at the ready to share a story of her life or give advice, such as to always work hard and never stop moving!
Millie was always generous with her time and resources, giving to many charities and volunteering well into her 90s, such as being a mainstay at her local Democratic club and campaigning for local politicians, and reading to second graders at a school in Marble Hill. She worked the polls as an election worker for every primary and general election, from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., up to the age of 96. She was influential to all who she came into contact with, and even inspired her own family physician to begin traveling; and just a few months before her passing, she convinced one of her health care aides to return to nursing school. As her health failed in the last year of her life, her greatest joy was the birth of and time she spent with her first great-grandchild.
Millie Diamant Silverstein was preceded in death by her husband, Joseph Silverstein; father Harry Diamant, mother Elizabeth Garrits Diamant, brother Alexander Diamant, sister Rachael Diamant Feldman; son and constant companion and caregiver in her later years Robert Harry Silverstein of Riverdale; and nephews Joel Diamant and Lewis Garrett Diamant. She is survived by her brother Dr. Louis Diamant of Charlotte, NC; daughter Jane (Ted) Feigenbaum of Las Vegas, NV; sons Richard Silverstein of Hurdle Mills, NC, and Mark (Maureen) Silverstein of Las Vegas, NV; grandchildren Jon, Brad, Andrew, Nicolaas, Kerry, Jaclyn, and Michael; and great-grandson Sammy; as well as a host of nieces and nephews and their children and theirs; all of whom loved her dearly and will miss her warmth, concern, gregariousness, generosity, tenacity, advice, wit, and candor.
Funeral services, officiated with compassion by Cantor Stevens of the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale, occurred on February 26, 2015, at Riverside Memorial Chapel; and Millie was laid to rest beside her husband, Joe, at Beth David Cemetery, Elmont, NY. Donations in her name may be made to the American Lung Association, American Cancer Society, or another worthwhile charity of your choice; and if you wish to make a toast to her memory, Millie’s preference was Manhattans.