Clarice (nee Soref) Turer, 94, died Jan. 21, 2022, after living what her son says was a “simple” life, and after giving tens of millions away anonymously.
Clarice wasn’t interested in living a flashy life. No brand names or flashy cars for her, said her son Harris.
Yet as a daughter of Master Lock’s Harry Soref, Clarice gave huge sums away.
“This very simple woman wanted to make sure that people in our community had things that she probably would say she took for granted – food on the table, clothing on their back,” Harris said. “Being able to pay a bill, a heating bill or whatever. It was just very simple things that my mother wanted to make sure people had.”
Harris said he appreciates the way he grew up, with those kinds of values.
Bert Bilsky, who assisted with some of Clarice’s giving when he was executive director of the Jewish Community Foundation, said she always waited until December, then made gifts to area food pantries. “But again, she didn’t want to use her name. It was always anonymous. They didn’t know where the money was coming from,” Bilsky said.
As Clarice fell deeper into Alzheimer’s, it was decided that it was OK to tell people. Bilsky recounts once telling an executive director of a food pantry, whose eyes widened and then filled with tears. The executive director then retrieved a list of gifts from her unknown benefactor that she had kept in her office, and it tallied up to more than $2 million.
Clarice also gave at least $200,000 to the Milwaukee Jewish Federation Annual Campaign annually – and anonymously. She gave to individuals, too.
There are many stories of Clarice’s quiet philanthropy that could be told, Bilsky said. Her major giving started in about 1983. “She probably conservatively gave away about $40 million in total, in just her yearly gifts,” he said.
Clarice was proud of her family, her history, her father and the history of Master Lock. She talked about it, Harris recalled.
About 18 years ago, Clarice was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. The disease progressed slowly. “It was just unfortunate because she missed out on some wonderful things, or watching her grandchildren really grow. And things that happen with me in my life,” said Harris, labeling it a “terrible disease.”
“My mother was just a very kind person, and she’ll be missed. And she lived a wonderful life,” Harris said. “There’s literally thousands and thousands of people in our community who benefited from this lady’s generosity, and they have no idea. They have no idea where things came from. They just know that they have. My mom was really proud of that. And I’m really proud of that.”
Beloved wife of the late Sidney Turer. Loving mother of Harris (Pam) Turer. Proud grandmother of Brandon and Gaby Turer. Preceded in death by parents, Harry and Bertha Soref; siblings: Ruth (the late David) Coleman, Ida Lynn Soref, Norman (the late Natalie) Soref, and Milton (the late Nita) Soref; dear friend, Mina Bures; and many other beloved relatives and friends. The family gives special thanks to head caregiver, Lisa, as well as Kathy and the many others who did so much for Clarice over the years. Goodman-Bensman assisted the family. Private services held. Memorial contributions to Hunger Task Force appreciated.