Heidi Burack Lewitt
Heidi Burack Lewitt of Newton and Cataumet, MA. Heidi’s long, happy and proud life came to an end on July 23. She was 95 years and 1 month to the day. She was a grocery clerk and cashier, camp counselor, retail clothing buyer, interior decorator, pregnancy counselor, social worker, and real estate broker. Above all else, she was a wonderful wife and mother to three boys, a grandmother of six and a great-grandmother of one, with another on the way.
At 92, Heidi was still showing houses and playing tennis. At 94, she still lived alone, managed her house, and climbed the stairs several times a day. She hosted family dinners, drove herself everywhere, smoked half a pack a day and had one evening scotch, because, “why the hell not?”
Nothing delighted Mom more than gathering her family and friends around her. She outlived almost all her old friends, and kept making new younger ones. She was curious and interested and delighted in what other people had to say. And she had a gift for seeing through minor details to the greater meaning. She always got right to the point. She loved a good story but you had to tell it fast. She wasn’t going to give you all night.
Harriet “Heidi” Burack was born in Worcester on June 24, 1925. She was the 5th of Morris Burack’s 6 girls. They lived above the family store, Morris Market, on Main Street. All six grew up stocking groceries and working the register. Morris was a gregarious and funny man with a thick Russian/Yiddish accent, who was often asked, “Morris, do you wish you had at least one son?” To which he replied, “No. I wish I had 6 more daughters.”
Heidi breezed through school, skipping one grade and declining the school’s offer to skip another. All four older sisters went to nursing school, but Heidi entered the first class of women at Clark University, to study business administration. On being the among the first women at Clark (Class of ’46), Heidi told her grandchildren “it was marvelous. They needed us for everything”. She played 4 years of tennis, track and basketball, including one as player-coach, and rowed crew on Lake Quinsigamond. As male students peeled off and went to fight in Europe and the Pacific, “we took over and ran everything.” She belonged to the senior honors society and was listed in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities. After college, Heidi spent a year in NYC, then took a job in Boston with Gilchrist’s, as a buyer of women’s clothing. She moved into a Cambridge apartment with her good friend, renowned Boston social worker and activist Golda Edinburg.
Heidi kept hearing from her friends about a very funny, smart and charming Jewish guy. Ted was smitten on the first blind date. Heidi was stunning, confident, smart and very funny. Heidi worked for many years with Ted in the family business, T.L. Chapman Co., makers of beautiful custom furniture. In the 1970s she went back to school, got an associate’s degree in Social Work, and worked at Mystic Valley Mental Health as a family counselor. There, as elsewhere, she pushed her female clients to respect and value themselves.
For the 35 years of their marriage, Heidi and Ted’s home was a place of laughter, love, and affection. Newspapers, magazines and books filled the house. There was always music; jazz and symphony, opera, Broadway, blues, folk music and the Stones. There was a steady stream of friends and guests for dinner. There were few rules and little discipline. Heidi and Ted led by example and let you know they expected honesty, kindness and consideration for everyone else. Michael, Peter, and Dan’s friends remember Heidi taking a warm interest in them, and also giving it to them straight. “Allen, don’t bring that mud in this house.”
Widowed at 62, Heidi successfully immersed herself in selling real estate, applying the same warmth, straight talk, intelligence, and humor that she had brought to her family, friendships and her prior careers. Throughout her life Heidi was an inspiration and mentor to scores of other, mostly younger woman. Heidi had a way of seeing right into the heart of any matter, and laying it out in simple terms. At the news of Heidi’s death, the condolences are flooding in, with many like “if I could be one tenth the woman Heidi was, I would be a great success.” This from a young doctor with 3 children.
Heidi loved her family, the real estate business, her many, many friends and admirers, Cape Cod, tennis, politics, crosswords, her simple and beautiful home, her flourishing orchids, her neighbors, and young people.
She is survived by her three sons and their wives, Peter and Mary (Talbot) Lewitt, Michael and Patricia (Moroney) Lewitt, Dan Lewitt and Karen Klerman, her grandchildren Martha and Jason, Charlie, Nicky, Jack, Teddy and Julia, and her great-granddaughter Lola Colby Brenner.
She was loving and generous, honest, elegant and unpretentious, gorgeous, totally independent, youthful and healthy, and very funny, even into her last years. She was an inspiration to her husband Ted, to her sons, their wives and children, and to all who knew her. She lived a long, dignified and exemplary life, and we will miss her dearly. The family will be holding a memorial by Zoom video conferencing on Wednesday, July 29 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern Time. Please call Levine Chapels, 617-277-8300 for the zoom link.
Burial will be private due to Covid-19 restrictions. A further celebration of Heidi's life is planned for a future date.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Sherrill House at www.sherrillhouse.org, Hebrew Senior Life at www.hebrewseniorlife.org, or Bourne Conservation Trust at www.bourneconservationtrust.org
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
Heidi Burack Lewitt
July 29, 2020
My sincerest condolences on your loss. I am Golda's niece and I had many memorable visits with your mom and my Aunt Golda. And we met several times after Golda died for a lunch "date." Your mom was quite a woman; I truly enjoyed my times spent with her. She was fun and funny, bright, interested and interesting. I had sort of kept track of her through Teresa, so I knew that things weren't always great, but, somehow, I expected her to soldier on forever. I know she will be missed by everyone who had a chance to know her.