Obituaries | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle


David Jon Balkansky 

David Jon Balkansky, 85, died peacefully on Feb. 3, 2023, at Agrace Hospice in Fitchburg, following a short, but valiant battle with cancer. At the time of death, his loving daughters were at his side. 

David was born on May 10, 1937, to Bebe Sarah (Bahcall) Balkansky and Bernard Balkansky in Manitowoc. Following graduation from Lincoln High School, David attended Northwestern University. He transferred to the New York Institute of Photography and spent the next eight years in New York City. Moving back to Wisconsin, he became an advisor for a boys’ program of Jewish youth, where he met his future wife, Judy Riches, who was a girls’ program advisor. They were married on Sept. 3, 1967, and lived happily for 48 years until Judy’s death. David was recruited by Lightolier, until he was sought by Milch Interstate Electric Supply of Racine. While in Racine, their daughter Leslie was born.   

When David’s family business came calling, David and Judy moved to Appleton and David began working for I. Bahcall Steel & Pipe, a company founded by his grandfather Isadore Bahcall in 1900. During his 45-year tenure, David served in sales and handled special projects. David and Judy also welcomed their younger daughter, Staci. David and Judy were very active in the Moses Montefiore Synagogue, the American Red Cross, FEMA Disaster Relief, the local Jewish youth organization, as well as serving as judges for local schools having academic decathlon and science olympiad competitions. They also enjoyed gourmet clubs and outings with their many friends. Following retirement from I. Bahcall, David became a Master Bear Builder at the local Build-A-Bear Workshop, where he delighted children and adults alike for 13 years.  

In 2014, they moved to The Villages, Florida, where they had been wintering for years. In 2015, following Judy’s death, David moved back to Wisconsin, settling near his daughter Staci and her family in Waunakee.   

He was preceded in death by his parents, by his brother Jerre, and by his wife Judy. He is survived by his daughter Leslie (Brian) Bauman and their daughter Gracie, all of Alexandria, Virginia; his daughter Staci (Michael) Daugird and their daughter Alexis of Waunakee; his brother Harlan (Francine) Balkansky of Mequon; and nieces and nephews, and many other loving relatives and friends. 

The family extends a very special thanks to Rabbi Betsy Forester, the Beth Israel Center, Agrace Hospice, and the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center, for the great friendships and loving care they bestowed on David. 

A memorial service was held at Brettscheider Trettin-Nickel Funeral Home in Appleton, on Feb. 7, 2023, with interment at Moses Montefiore Cemetery. 

In lieu of flowers, send donations in David’s memory to the University of Wisconsin Carbone Cancer Center. 


Boris Baskin 

Boris Baskin died Feb. 7, 2023 at the age of 81. Beloved husband of Roza Baskina (nee Ginsburg). Loving father of the late Irina Sulim. Proud grandfather of Igor (Sonya), Adam and Adrian and great-grandfather of Liam and Max. Further survived by other loving relatives and dear friends.  

Private funeral service held Feb. 10, 2023. Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home assisted the family. Memorial contributions to the charity of your choice appreciated. 


Lisbeth Bass 

Lisbeth Bass died Feb. 3, 2023. 

Cherished sister of Jon and Sue Bass, beloved niece of Geraldine Schmidman. Preceded in death by loving parents Milton and Nancy Bass. A graduate of Whitefish Bay High School and the University of Texas, Liz combined her passion for travel with her business. She continued finding new destinations and travel venues for her clients long after her health prevented her from taking part in the trips she loved so much. Many thanks to her clients for continuing to let her see the world vicariously through their eyes. Special thanks to her many dear friends; Dr. Brian Nelson and Lori Nelson, APNP, for their unwavering support, skill, humor, and generosity of time; and to the staff at Froedtert Hospital for their care and compassion in her final days. A private burial will be held. Memorials to the Michael J. Fox Foundation, Make-A-Wish Foundation, or the Grand Avenue Club. Place of burial, Mound Zion Cemetery. Blane Goodman Funeral Service assisted the family.  

Morton Blutstein 

Morton Blutstein died on Jan. 17, 2023, Morty’s 91st birthday. A celebration in his honor was held at the hospice on Jan. 16, with his favorite cake and ice cream and close family surrounding him. Morty’s wife Barbara Polacheck preceeded him in death, but he honored her everyday by wearing the wedding ring she gave him. They were a great team and will be thrilled to see each other in heaven. Morty’s sister Harriet, brothers’-in-law Robert and Larry also proceeded him in death, while his sister Vicki lives in Illinois. Morty has three children, Mark, Janet and Dan, all who were at the hospice during the last few days of his life. He also has many nieces and nephews from all around the country who showed their love and compassion for decades and decades. Friends and family were so important, so Jerry and Jill Polacheck along with the Freeman’s, Carpenter’s, Hitchcock’s, Polacheck’s, Litwin’s and so many others played a critical part in their lives. Morty really started to shine when he became a grandfather. Work, golf and social things didn’t seem as important as the time he could spend with the kids. Andy and Kevin by far benefitted the most by being in Milwaukee, but Harper and Mac, started to get more time with them as the weather drew them to Florida. Jack, Ali and Charlie spent summers in Milwaukee their whole lives and got to know Morty really well. Morty was born in New York City and met Barb while they were working together at the USO Office. After their wedding in Milwaukee, 1961, Herb Polacheck asked Morty to come to work for the family business, called Reliable Knitting Works. Who would have guessed that 58 years later in 2019, he would retire as chairman of the board. He, along with Jerry Polacheck provided well-paying jobs, with great benefits, for thousands of families in southeastern Wisconsin. Today, it is commonly known by MukLuk’s and is one of the most popular footwear brands in the U.S. Send any donations to Children’s Outing Association or your favorite charity. Place of burial, Spring Hill Cemetery. Rabbi David Cohen and Blane Goodman Funeral Service assisted the family.  


Fredric Ross Dichter 

Fredric Ross Dichter died Jan. 31, 2023.  

He was born on April 2, 1946. Fred died peacefully at home with Barbara, his loving wife of 53 years, by his side. Fred also leaves behind children, Erica (Keith) Vogel and Ron (Diana) Dichter; and grandchildren, Jennifer Beiro, Stiles Dichter, and Emmy Dichter. He was the middle child of two wonderful brothers who he loved dearly. His oldest brother, Steve (deceased Feb. 18, 2018) and his younger brother, Joel. 

Fred had been diagnosed with Glioblastoma (brain cancer) on Nov. 4, 2022. The doctors gave him less than 30 days to live, but in typical “Fred” fashion he showed them and lived three times longer than the doctors said he would. 

Fred was born in New York and attended Boston University where he received his bachelor’s degree, then to St. John’s University where he received his law degree and then New York University where he got his master’s degree in law. After practicing law in New York, he relocated his family to Alaska when his kids were 1 and 2 years old. Professionally, Fred was an accomplished attorney in New York and Alaska, which included representing the Anchorage Police Department for many years. He later turned his knowledge of the legal world to becoming an arbitrator where he relocated to Milwaukee to pursue with passion his interest in resolving disputes between labor and management.  

Travel and sports were Fred’s true passions. Often these passions would collide. Some of Fred’s travel accomplishments were visiting over 70 countries, and all the National Parks in the U.S., where he proudly collected a T-shirt from every one of them. His love for sports merged with travel when he decided to see a baseball game in every single stadium in Major League Baseball. Barbara was a great sport as she traveled on all these adventures with Fred. He enjoyed texting with his two brothers, nephew, and daughter about their New York Yankees, which was by far his favorite sports team.  

Funeral service held Feb. 3, 2023, at the Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home. Interment was at Second Home Cemetery, Milwaukee. Rabbi Marc Berkson and Cantor David Barash officiated. Memorial contributions to Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun appreciated. 


Robin Frank 

Robin Frank, age 73, died from complications of Alzheimer’s on Jan. 17, 2023.  

Robin was born in Milwaukee where she attended John Marshall Jr. Senior High School, as it was then known, and continued her education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she received her M.Ed. in special education. Robin went on to a 30-year teaching career with Madison Metropolitan School district. After retirement Robin became a snowbird spending winters in southern California where her brother Randy lives, eventually moving permanently to Laguna Woods, California in 2017. Robin enjoyed traveling, including her last trip to Israel in 2019 with her brother Randy, sister-in-law Ella, and cousin Tammy. It was a very meaningful trip for her as she gained a greater understanding and appreciation of her Jewish roots. Robin also went on backpacking trips in Yosemite and joined her friends on many walking and sightseeing trips. She especially enjoyed shopping, taking the phrase “shop until you drop” very seriously. 

Predeceased by her mother Florence Frank (nee Lebowsky) and father Sheldon Frank, in whose eyes Robin could do no wrong. Further survived by brother Randy Frank and his wife, Ella Pennington, as well as many cousins and friends. 

Throughout her disease Robin still maintained a sense of humor, often laughing at herself. While Robin made a nice group of friends in California, she so missed and loved her Madison friends. Robin was always concerned with the well-being of others, and even as her disease progressed she would often ask if everyone was okay. Robin will be missed by many. At this time no plans have been made for a memorial service. 


Sylvia Lillian Gertel 

Sylvia Lillian Gertel (nee Rubin) died Jan. 24, 2023 at the age of 94. Wife of the late William Gertel, mother of Rabbi Elliot and Dr. Theodore (Joan) Gertel, grandmother of Dr. Alexander (Maggie), Aaron (Emma Daisy), Jason (significant other Kelsey), and Diana (significant other Nathan), and great-grandmother of Joey, Lea, Zev and Alyx.  

Graveside services held Jan. 26, 2023, at Agudas Achim Cemetery, Cudahy. Rabbi Dovid Rapoport officiated. Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home assisted the family. Contributions to Mequon Jewish Preschool, Tunnel to Towers Foundation, or Hunger Task Force appreciated. 


Floyd Harris

Floyd Harris died Feb. 2, 2023, at the age of 91.  

Beloved husband of the late Rose Harris (nee Zeiger). Cherished father of Leslie (Paul Schwartz) Harris Schwartz and Cynthia Holland. Loving grandfather of Andrew (Erica Pressley) Schwartz, Jason Schwartz and Alexander Holland. Proud great-grandfather of Hannah Rose Schwartz.  Dear brother of the late Bernard Harris. Further survived by other loving relatives and dear friends. 

A graveside service was held on Feb. 5 at Mound Zion Cemetery, Brookfield. Rabbi Jessica Barolsky officiated. Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home assisted the family. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions made to Congregation Emanu-El B’ne Jeshurun Food Pantry or the charity of your choice appreciated. May his memory be a blessing. 


Daniel Franklin Lilly 

Daniel Franklin Lilly died suddenly from a heart attack while chatting with friends. It was Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2023, and his late father’s birthday. He was 59. 

Danny lived a full and colorful life. He was born on June 29, 1963, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where he spent the early part of his childhood before his family relocated to Milwaukee. He spent his young adult years in Los Angeles working as an extra in films, lived briefly in Vancouver, Canada and eventually moved back to Milwaukee to be near family. 

With a big heart and abundant sense of fun, Dan made friends wherever he went. His love for people brought smiles to anyone in his orbit. Danny had a sophisticated palate and an outsized enthusiasm for food. His playfulness and joy will be missed. 

Dan was loved as a son, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin and friend. He is survived by his mother, Diane Lilly (nee Bahr); his brother, Robert; sister, Karen (Jordan) Lilly Mozer; Robert’s children, Joe and Caroline; Karen’s children, Eliza, Chloe and Iz; and many loving relatives and friends.   

A private burial was held by the family at Mound Zion Cemetery in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Rabbi Shari Shamah officiated. Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home assisted the family. 

Memorial contributions may be made to Jewish Family Services of Milwaukee, 1300 N. Jackson St., Milwaukee, WI  53202. 


Jodee Lynn Michell 

Jodee Lynn Michell died Jan. 25, 2023. 

To know Jodee was to love her. 

Daughter of the late Sidney and the late Eileen Gray, sister of David (Dresden) Gray, wife of Daniel Michell, mother of Jaimee Michell, and aunt of Noah and Sasha Gray. Jodee died suddenly in her sleep. She was the rock of the family and the glue that held it all together.  

“We cannot process the shock of this sudden, devastating loss. The world is a colder, darker and lonelier place without her in it now,” said the family. “We ask for prayers and vibrant energy as you think of her, as that is what she was. So full of life and love. She was one of a kind never to be replaced. 

“We feel so lost at this time and don’t know how to carry on without her. May her memory be a blessing. She will live on in all of our hearts and memories until the end of time, and especially through her daughter’s life, with whom she had an unspeakable bond. May God now be with her and hold her in his unfathomable love, and may her spirit be with us. 

Funeral service held Jan. 30 at Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home. Interment was at Beth Hamedrosh Hagodel Cemetery, Milwaukee. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Mann officiated.   

Memorial contributions to the Wisconsin Humane Society or the charity of your choice appreciated. 

Michael S. Rice 

Michael S. Rice died Feb. 10, 2023 at the age of 75.  

Beloved husband of the late Caron Rice (nee Karas). Cherished father of Illana (Pinchas) Goldfinger, Ayton (Debbie) Rice and Ariel (Shifra) Rice. Proud grandfather of Miriam, Alter, Chevy and Leeba Goldfinger and Sara Rivka, Shlomo, Yehoshua, Moshe, Nathan, and Asher Rice. Dear brother of Melissa (Dennis) Petersdorf and Peter Rice.  Further survived by other loving relatives and dear friends. 

Funeral services were held on Feb. 12 at the Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home. Rabbi Michel Twerski officiated. Interment was at Beth Hamedrosh Hagodel Cemetery, Milwaukee.  

Memorial contributions to the Wisconsin Institute for Torah Study, 3288 N. Lake Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53211 appreciated. 

Matthew J. Singer 
Matthew J. Singer, Bayside, died Dec. 5, 2022. He was 69. 

Born Jan. 7, 1953, in Milwaukee, he was a graduate of Nicolet High School and Cardinal Stritch University, with a bachelor’s degree in business. He was a master gardener and landscaper. 

Survived by Jacob (Jaime), Joe, Elizabeth (Ashley); papa bear to his grandchildren Jonathan and Olive; siblings Jan, Tom (Anysia Oswald), Cathy, Eric (Andrea Sperduto); cousins and many friends. 

Preceded in death by his parents Hal and Dorothy Singer. Matt loved his family and friends dearly. He was passionate about being outdoors in nature and creating beautiful environments until Parkinson’s Disease stole his body, slowed his brain, squeezed his life to nothing, said his family. His last two fulfilled wishes were to contribute his brain for Parkinson’s research and green-buried in the Prairie Green area of Greenwood Cemetery. 

Place of burial Prairie Green on Dec. 8, 2022, with Blane Goodman Funeral Services assisting. Memorials may be sent to Michael J. Fox Foundation or to any environmental cause important to you. Email:          


Herzl Robert Spiro 

Herzl Robert Spiro died in Milwaukee on Feb. 7, 2023. 

Born in Burlington, Vermont on April 22, 1935, to Rabbi Saul S. Spiro and Dorothy Mazel. He was an academic psychiatrist, a philanthropist, and a leader of the Jewish community, and will be remembered for his work on the Immigration and Absorption Committee of the Jewish Agency, which was instrumental in absorbing immigrants to Israel from Ethiopia and from the former Soviet Union. 
He was educated at the University of Vermont, both undergraduate and medical school; and then after an internship at New York Hospital – Cornell Medical Center he did a residency in psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he joined the faculty and became director of outpatient services. He was a founding member of the “community mental health” movement, and as he liked to say, “a rabbi who takes Blue Cross/Blue Shield.” As director of the Rutgers (NJ) Community Health Center, he developed community outreach teams to facilitate the deinstitutionalization of people requiring mental health care.

In 1976 he moved to Milwaukee to become commissioner of mental health for Milwaukee County and the chairman of psychiatry at the Medical College of Wisconsin. When those programs suffered deep cuts in public funding he resigned. Eventually he led the psychiatric residency program for the University of Wisconsin, but by this time his passion and focus was service to the Jewish Agency in Israel, which he saw as “returning to his father’s house.” He fought for justice no matter the field of endeavor, and he was particularly concerned with creating psychiatric outreach programs for everyone regardless of their income. 

He had three children with Joanna H. Spiro: David, a professor and business consultant in New York City, Lev, a filmmaker and fine art photographer in Los Angeles, and Miriam, a psychoanalytic psychotherapist in New York City. His grandchildren are Ezra and Katya (David) and Kaia and Sarit (Mimi). He was married to Barbara Kohl from 1979 until his death, and was devoted to her three children, Daniel, Beth, and David and their children. He was a loving brother to Saul M. Spiro, who passed away last year, and to his sister Rena Ziegler of Bellingham, Washington. 

In 2020 Herzl published a memoir titled “Of Hope,” which is available on Amazon. Services were at Congregation Emanu El B’ne Jeshurun, Feb. 9, 2023. Interment followed at Spring Hill Cemetery, 166 S. Hawley, Ct., Milwaukee. 


Thomas W. St. John 

Thomas W. St. John, Shorewood, died Jan. 18, 2023, at age 78. 

Loving husband of Micaela Levine. Dear father of Jessica (John Fauller) St. John, Ben St. John, Saul St. John, and Jacob (Kari Parks) St. John. Adoring grandfather of Sofia and Sebastian St. John. Treasured brother of Judy (the late Karl) Stadler and Mary (Jim) Dougherty. Further survived by other relatives and friends. Funeral services were Jan. 26, 2023, at Congregation Sinai, Fox Point. Interment was at Greenwood Cemetery, Milwaukee. Rabbi David Cohen and Blane Goodman Funeral Service assisted the family. Memorials to Congregation Sinai or the International Crane Foundation, 


Marc Stuart Wolf 

Marc Stuart Wolf died Jan. 27, 2023, at age 72 with family at his side.   

He was born Aug. 8, 1950, in Gary, Indiana to Norman and Mildred (Hansher) Wolf.  Marc was a special dad to Ari D. (Yuliya) Wolf and Sid M. Wolf.  Marc was married to Bridget Wolf (nee Pozorski) and Jane Frank, the mother of his children. Marc leaves behind his dear brother Richard (Candy) Wolf along with many friends and beloved German Shepherd, Pax.   

Marc was raised in Skokie, Illinois, where he attended Niles East High School. He established Marc Wolf Ltd. in 1970 and continued manufacturing leather belts until his death. Marc will be remembered for his love of sailing, his iconic potato kugel, shrimp DeJonghe and brisket along with his cutting-edge humor.  

Per his wishes, no services were held. Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home assisted the family.