Bea Sorkin passed away in Austin, Texas on December 4 at the age of 95. Beloved wife of the late Burton Sorkin; dear mother and mother-in-law of Jerry Sorkin, Chuck (Pam) Sorkin and the late Murray Sorkin; dear grandmother of Melvin (Sarah) Sorkin, Nathan Sorkin, Lauren (Parker) Malone and Joseph Sorkin; great-grandmother of Elaine Sorkin; dear daughter of the late Nathan and late Esther Lieberman; dear sister of the late Walter (late Elaine) Lieberman and late Eddie (Bernice) Lieberman; dear aunt, cousin and friend to many.
Bea’s parents Nathan Lieberman and Esther Tofle emigrated separately from Russia in the early 1900s and settled in St. Louis. She went to Emerson elementary school in the city of St. Louis. Her hobbies included bike riding, playing tennis in Forest Park, volleyball, and ping pong, a sport at which she gave her children a good game while they were growing up. She was also an avid reader as a child – her favorite books were the Nancy Drew series of detective stories. Bea loved hanging around with her older brothers, Walter and Eddie. They were all very close. She studied piano and continued playing for many years, playing Yiddish songs for her grandmother’s and mother’s organizations and teas.
Bea graduated from the 8th grade at 12 years of age and went to Soldan High School. She loved high school, was very sociable and kept in contact with many friends from her high school days. She capped her high school career by being crowned “Sweetheart of AZA”. Bea graduated from high school at age 16 and attended Washington University. She loved university life and worked many different jobs in the summers. She graduated Washington U. at age 20 with a degree in business administration and was one of the first women to graduate from the business school (there were only three in her class). She remained active in the alumni organization into her 80s.
She met her husband-to-be, Burt Sorkin, at the Heman Park swimming pool in University City, while he was in town from his engineering job in Chicago to visit his parents in St. Louis. During the first few years of marriage, Bea was able to use her business school expertise serving as a statistician for the Jewish Employment service and Vocational Service, where she placed immigrants displaced by World War II into jobs. Bea felt she was thereby repaying the mitzvahs that let her own grandparents, parents, uncles and aunts settle in the U.S. and specifically St. Louis.
In her third year of marriage, Bea and Burt had the first of their 3 sons. During the period her children were small, Bea operated a co-operative nursery school in the basement of their apartment building in the University City Loop. She also played mahjong with her friends and kept involved in neighborhood activities. Around the time her youngest started school full time, Bea became active at Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel synagogue, as an administrator and at the Religious School where she taught for 10 years and served as principal for the next 15 years. She loved assembling a staff and organizing ideas for programming, and thrived when finding everyone’s thoughts, getting people involved, and trying out new ideas to see how they worked.
After retirement, she and Burt remained active in the synagogue and enjoyed traveling, playing music and going to concerts and other events around town. She and Burt especially loved being grandparents and were very active, never missing activities, special occasions and celebrations of their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews and cousins. After Burt passed away in 2004, Bea stayed busy with volunteering, tutoring, and taking classes and learned to excel at Bridge. At age 91, Bea moved to Austin, Texas to be closer to family. She enjoyed activities at Atria and Maravilla senior independent living residences, where she joined an acting group and loved meeting new people.
Bea was a light for all that knew her. She lived a life full of wonderful memories shared with friends and family. Her impact on the community was far-reaching yet deeply personal. She brought much joy to those around her and will be greatly missed and remembered by many.
Graveside service Friday, December 8, 1:00 PM at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery, 650 White Rd. 63017. Memorial contributions preferred to the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and the American Stroke Association.