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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


November 21, 2014  RSS feed

Text: T T T

Marion Samson-Joseph, Menorah Manor ‘angel,’ dies

Marion L. Samson-Joseph, Menorah Manor founder, astute businesswoman, philanthropist and active supporter of a variety of local Jewish and community organizations, died Tuesday, Nov. 11, at age 84.

Though involved in many causes, the one she had the most passion for was Menorah Manor.

Calling Samson- Joseph “the Big Angel of Menorah Manor” Judy Ludin, chief development and community relations officer at Menorah Manor, said, “It was her vision – along with our other Founders – of creating a Jewish nursing center on Florida’s west coast, and her generous transformational gift, that created Menorah Manor.”

“Over almost 25 years, I sat with Marion at countless meetings. She never missed a board meeting, even it if meant dragging along her oxygen. She was there to remind the next generation of Menorah Manor leaders about the original mission and dream of its founders, of providing the best possible care in a warm, homelike Jewish environment, regardless of ability to pay. Her passion for Menorah Manor was fervent, and until the very last days of her life, she was concerned about the mission being continued for years to come.”

Born in Darmstadt, Germany, in 1930, she emigrated to Chicago in April 1938 on the precipice of the Holocaust. In the 1950s she was assistant auditor at two banks in Chicago and in 1959 she married Bernard L. Samson.

The couple moved to St. Petersburg in 1961 where she soon became an active board member of Hadassah and subsequently a life member. A member of Congregation B’nai Israel for more than 50 years, she served on the board of Congregation B’nai Israel in St. Petersburg including as treasurer for two years and over the years was a board member and officer of its Sisterhood. She also was involved in the Pinellas Association for Retarded Children and the League to Aid Retarded Children.

She and her husband established one of the first community hospitals in the Tampa Bay area after they saw a dire need for improvement in the local health care system, and when one of her family members was in need of drug rehabilitation, she identified a gap in that realm and founded a rehab center for addicts.

She held many positions for the Gateway Hospital Corporation and two years after her husband died in 1976, she took over as president and chairman of the board of the company and held this position until the company, which owned hospitals across the state, was sold in 1982.

In the 1980s, she rallied Tampa Bay residents and provided major financial support and leadership to open Menorah Manor as the first Jewish nursing home in the Tampa Bay area. Menorah Manor’s flagship facility, the Bernard L. Samson Nursing Center, was named in memory of her husband. She and her sister, Edie Loebenberg, also donated money for the Ida and Jules Lowengard Synagogue in the nursing home, named in memory of their parents. Samson-Joseph remained actively involved with Menorah Manor through the rest of her life.

Her second marriage was to John Joseph, who died in 2005.

Samson-Joseph also was instrumental in her family’s founding of the Florida Holocaust Museum and served on its board. She also served on the board of directors of Bayfront Theater, T.O.P. Jewish Foundation, Jewish National Fund, and All Children’s Hospital. Other memberships included the Women’s Forum, Committee of 100 and National Association of Christians and Jews. In 2002 she was awarded the Jewish National Fund Tree of Life award.

Earlier this year she was honored as a Tampa Bay Lightning Community Hero. It was an honor she did not seek, Ludin said, but agreed to be nominated when she learned the winner would receive a $50,000 check to donate to their favorite charity, in her case, Menorah Manor.

Survivors include daughters and sons-in-law, Dori and Bruce Nussbaum, and Barbara and Irving Guterman, all of Potomac, MD, and son and daughter-inlaw, Paul and Annette Samson, of Tampa; stepson and wife, Tal and Jeanette Kramer, of Atlanta; stepdaughters and husbands, Joanie and Brian Johnston, and Debbie and Danny Beetem, all of St. Petersburg; 13 grandchildren and four step-grandchildren. The family suggests donations to the Menorah Manor Foundation; or call (727) 302-3888.

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