Nita Soref remembered – lived life fully, touched lives | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Nita Soref remembered – lived life fully, touched lives 


Nita Soref (nee Gumbiner), who is remembered as having lived life to the fullest and touched many lives, died Dec 11, 2021. She was 95.  

Nita was an extraordinary caregiver to those she loved. She provided her help with love and no expectations of gratitude,” Marlene Bilsky said. “She could always lift my spirits and make me laugh. Outside of my parents, my brother and my husband, she was the most special person in my life, and I will miss her forever.” 

Family recalled how Nita led by example and impacted so many through her thoughtfulness, generosity and philanthropic spirit. Nita will be remembered for her giving spirit and ability to connect with people and make them feel loved, they said. She cherished her role as the matriarch of the family, and approached life with integrity, generosity and dignity. 

Bert L. Bilsky, former executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation, remembered one example of her generosity, when she made a truly significant gift to help establish the Max and Anita Karl Jewish Community Campus in Whitefish Bay, in the 1980s. She made the gift, then let some other potential donors know that if she could do it, they could do it too, Bilsky said. 

“It was extraordinary. It was her vision, and it was her influence,” Bilsky said. “This was the kind of thing she did. She wanted this to happen.” 

“We hit a wall. It was the momentum that she provided with her gift and her willingness to look other people in the eye and talk about how important this was,” Bilsky said. “Without that I don’t know what we would have done.” 

Nita was also one of seven foundational donors to establish the 2004 capital campaign for developing the Max and Anita Karl Jewish Community Campus, and she funded many other Jewish community needs. 

Nita received the national Kipnis-Wilson/Friedland Award from Jewish Federations of North America. The award honors extraordinary women who have set the highest standards of philanthropy and volunteerism. Winners are chosen by peers as “women of valor” with a lifetime of commitment to the Jewish world. 

Nita established a donor advised fund at the Jewish Community Foundation to perform and promote legacy planning. She also established a Lion of Judah Endowment to ensure that her gift to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation will continue in her name in perpetuity.      

Nita served on the board of directors of both the Milwaukee Ballet and Florentine Opera and will have a lasting influence on both the Milwaukee and Palm Springs communities. On any given day you could find Nita cheering on the Green Bay Packers, Milwaukee Brewers or watching tennis. She was an avid moviegoer (which she inherited from her late mother and father, Sadye and Max Gumbiner) and loved attending the Palm Springs Film Festival.    

“This is a major loss for our entire community and especially our Jewish community,” said Milwaukee Jewish Federation Board Chair Joan Lubar. “Nita was a true treasure who made a huge impact with her vision, charm, positive attitude and resources. The world is a better place because of her. She will be sorely missed and never forgotten.” 

“Nita Soref had an incredible commitment to family, Jewish community, and philanthropy, and she will be deeply missed,” said Miryam Rosenzweig, president and CEO of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. “The Talmud teaches us, ‘he who saves one life, it is as if he has saved the whole world.’ Nita and Milton’s foresight did not impact just one individual, they saved lives, improved lives, and strengthened our community. Their impact will be felt for generations to come.” 

Nita was loving wife to the late Milton Soref and cherished mother to Ellen Soren, Douglas Soref (Cathy) and Marcia Soref. 

Nita was adored by her grandchildren, Scott Soren (Teresa), Meredith Soren Freese (Chad), Maryn Soref, Rylan Soref (Emily) and Colton Soref.  Nita also leaves behind seven great-grandchildren, Sadie and Ryan Soren, Sloane and Elle Freese, Eloise, Catharine Evans and Mabel Soref, all of whom she touched with her generosity and zest for life. Nita was a cherished friend to so many and deeply valued her friendship and the care provided by Vantana Tucker.  

Close friends and immediate family gathered for a graveside service on Dec. 16, 2021, at Spring Hill Cemetery with Rabbi David Cohen officiating. Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home assisted the family.  In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Froedtert Hospital Foundation, P.O. Box 26509, Milwaukee, WI 53226-0509 or (for questions, please e-mail: sameen@mcw.comor) or the charity of your choice.