Belle Likover

October 22, 1919July 29, 2017

To view this service at 1 PM Sunday please navigate to ====================== August 2, 2017 Cleveland Plain Dealer Belle Likover, senior advocate, dies BRIAN ALBRECHT Three years ago, Belle Likover, a longtime advocate for the elderly, was asked about her own mortality. '1'm very lucky to still be alive," the child of the Depression told a Plain Dealer reporter. "My time is limited. I accept the fact that one of these days I'm not going to wake up:' Likover, 97, died Saturday in her Shaker Heights home. The life of this self-de-scribed workaholic was filled with a passion and energy for helping other people, through efforts in a variety of social service agencies, resulting in numerous awards. As her daughter Rachel Likover noted, "My mother had an unwavering commitment to ideas that would improve the lives of people in our country. Her tenacity, insight and consistency in the development of projects to meet those goals was inspirational to her colleagues and fellow advocates for change." Helping others was a trait that Belle Likover once said she developed during the deprivation of Depression, when a steady stream of hungry people came to her family's door in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, and were never turned away. After graduating from Ohio State University, she came to Cleveland, where friends lived. Her first husband, Joseph Tracht, was killed during World War II. Toe war widow with a 2-year-old daughter in 1946 married Edward Likover, a fellow OSU graduate who would later become president of the Cleveland chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union. They raised three more children. He died in 1992. The couple were exposed to the anti-communist "Red Scare" fervor of the 1950s when he was fired from his job as a Cleveland Trade School teacher after invoking his constitutional right to free speech when summoned to appear before the Ohio Un-American Activities Commission. Likover had been involved in an effort to establish day care for young children during and after the war, and once said that she "fell into social work -I never really planned it." She became a group worker at the Jewish Com-munity Center and would serve the agency for 22 years, becoming its first development director, associate executive director and interim executive director before she "retired" in 1982. She was just getting started She became an outspoken champion for the elderly as chair of such senior advocacy organizations as the Western Reserve Agency on Aging board of trustees, Council on Older Persons and the Ohio Advisory Council on Aging. She also was a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1995 and 2005. Her many awards included The Plain Dealer's Ohioan of the Year award in 2002, when her efforts against a state proposal to cut home health care for low-income seniors were noted. At that time, Jim Trakru1, chairman of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party, said, "Her passion shows through. Her voice is an important one.” Her awards included the Max and Frieda Davis Tikkum Hallam Award from Temple Emanu El, the ACLU of Ohio Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Han-nah G. Solomon Award from the National Council of Jewish Women. Likover was the subject of a recent documentary, "Belle," which screened at the Cleveland International Film Festival, and the ACLU of Ohio also filmed her for an oral history project. While advocating for seniors, she didn't overlook herself. She was an avid theater-goer and swam in water aerobics every week. She also once admitted to being a big fan of former TV host Jon Stewart, because "getting a laugh every day is very, very helpful:' Her daughter Rachel re-marked, "I think my mother's energy flowed from her passion to make a difference in the world. She committed herself to an exercise regimen that energized her physically as well. Belle Likover hosted a Passover Seder for 50 people each year, and was patron of the annual ACLU of Ohio Ed Likover Memorial lecture. Likover is survived by children Terry Moen (Hans) of Madison, Wisconsin, Joseph Likover (Amy) of San Rafael, California, and Rachel (Scott de Wolski) of Springfield, Massachusetts; daughter-in-law Bobbi Likover; five grandchildren; sisters Madeleine Levinson and Pearl Rubenzik; and sister-in-law Lenore (Tracht) Levine. She was predeceased by her eldest son, Lewis. Services will be at Berkowitz-Kumin-Bookatz Memorial Chapel, 1985 South Taylor Road, Cleveland Heights, at 1 p.m. Sunday. The family will receive friends at home on Saturday from 5 to 9 p.m., and Sunday after services until 8 p.m. The family has suggested a donation to a charitable organization, the ACLU of Ohio ( or the National Council of Jewish Women ( ================================================ BELLE LIKOVER, age 97, died peacefully at home surrounded by her family. Born in Pittsburgh on October 22, 1919 to Sarah and Jacob Weiner, she grew up in Beaver Falls, PA. She graduated from The Ohio State University and moved to Cleveland in 1945, where she later attended Case Western Reserve University and earned her MSSA. Belle was widowed when her first husband, Joseph Tracht, was killed in WWII. She married Edward Likover in 1946. When she arrived in Cleveland, Belle had a key role in a movement to establish and maintain daycare for young children during and after the war. Belle and her husband Ed were subjected to the true witch hunt of Joe McCarthy and his brethren, shaping her lifelong commitment to civil liberties. Belle began her 22 year career at the Jewish Community Center as a group worker, and ultimately became Associate Executive Director of the agency. She played a major role in planning for the construction of the Mandel JCC. She served two terms as Interim Executive Director before her retirement in 1982. In her retirement and up until her death, she was a tireless advocate on behalf of the elderly. Over the years, she served as chair for many senior advocacy organizations, including the Western Reserve Agency on Aging Board of Trustees, Council on Older Persons, Coalition to Monitor Medicare Managed Care, and the Ohio Advisory Council on Aging. She was a delegate to the White House Conference on Aging in 1995 and 2005. Some of the awards for Belles advocacy work include: Advocate of the Year from the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging (1997), Distinguished Alumni of the Year CWRU MSASS (2000), Hannah G. Solomon Award from the National Council of Jewish Women (2000), Ohioan of the Year by The Plain Dealer (2002), Democracy in Action Award by the League of Women Voters (2005), Dr. Arnold L. Heller Memorial Award from Menorah Park Senior Living Center (2008), ACLU of Ohio Lifetime of Service Award (2009), and the Max and Frieda Davis Tikkun HaOlam Award from Temple Emanu El (2014). She was the subject of the documentary film, Belle, which premiered earlier this year at the Cleveland International Film Festival. In 2016, in the wake of tragic shootings, Belle was inspired by President Obama's call for individual actions to unite the country rather than further divide it. She organized a community meeting which provided an informative and cordial dialog between residents and the Shaker Heights Police Department. A lifelong lover of the arts, she was a regular theatergoer. She found delight in frequent Royalty card games with a group of dear friends. Belle practiced aquatic aerobics on a nearly daily basis until her death. Belle hosted a Passover Seder for 50 people each year, and was the patron of the annual ACLU of Ohio Ed Likover Memorial Lecture; these events served as joyous reunions for extended family from across the country. Belle is survived by children Terry Moen (Hans) of Madison, WI, Joseph Likover (Amy) of San Rafael, CA and Rachel (Scott de Wolski) of Springfield, MA. She was predeceased by her husband Ed, her eldest son, Lewis, and her sisters Florence Gubits and Zelda Polatsek. She is survived by her grandchildren: Joshua Likover, Jacob Likover, Kale Likover, Sean de Wolski (Amy) and Karen de Wolski; her daughter-in-law, Bobbi Likover; her sisters: Madeleine Levinson and Pearl Rubenzik; her sister-in-law: Lenore (Tracht) Levine; and many nieces, nephews, cousins, and dear friends. If you wish, the family suggests a donation to a charitable organization of your choice, or to the ACLU of Ohio ( or the National Council of Jewish Women ( Services will be held at BERKOWITZ-KUMIN-BOOKATZ MEMORIAL CHAPEL, 1985 S. TAYLOR RD., CLEVELAND HTS., on Sunday, August 6 at 1 p.m. The family will receive friends at home on SATURDAY FROM 5 TO 9 PM AND ON SUNDAY AFTER SERVICES UNTIL 8 PM.


  • Memorial Service Sunday, August 6, 2017

Belle Likover

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John C. Fazio

August 29, 2017

Belle was a member in good standing of Theatrix, a play-reading group that has been around for about 35 years. She was a superb reader, an equally superb hostess and a game lady. Everyone adored her. She will be greatly missed.

Allison DiGrande

August 15, 2017

My thoughts are with you and your family, Rachel. I would have loved to have met your mother as she sounds like an amazing woman. How fortunate to have had such an inspiring woman in your life.
With Sympathy,

Gay Quereau

August 10, 2017

So very sorry to learn of Belle's passing, and to be out of state for the summer so could not visit with her toward the end. What a truly awesome woman and role model she was. She gave so much to so many. Blessings and condolences to her family.

Steffi Stone

August 8, 2017

You all know how much the Likover family means to me and what a role Belle played in my life. The Stones and Likovers.....forever connected through our matriarchs, Belle and Edna

Fatima Perkins

August 6, 2017

With sadness we mourn the passing of Belle. Every day, she demonstrated her love for life-long learning and passion for community engagement. Western Reserve Area Agency on Aging and other social service organizations benefitted from Belle's work.

Her presence, smile, and energy will be missed. Belle's tireless efforts improved the lives of hundreds of older adults. Her colleagues and friends will carry forward her legacy of inspiration.

Joshua Sobul

August 5, 2017

With Love from Colorado.. Thank you for it all Aunt Belle.xxoo

August 3, 2017

" It is truly a blessing and if by special mightiness to live a long and productive life. [ Psalms [ 90:10 ] May God keep you in his care earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot cure. [ 1 Thessalonians 4:13]

Mark Nyer

August 3, 2017

I extend my condolences on behalf of the Nyer family.
I read with sadness of the passing of Louie and now your mom.
It brought back a flood of memories of time well spent at the Likover house and good times on Goodnor.

Joyce Norr

August 2, 2017

My condolences go out to the family and friends of Belle. I am sure that I am not alone in being in awe of the life Belle led and her many accomplishments and contributions to others. I will always be grateful for the many places where our lives intersected since I am a few years younger she set the example for me to emulate ( such as, when I was a group leader at JCC, a head counselor at Circle Pines, classmates at SASS, members of NCJW & ACLU, fellow attendees at music, art, lecture and theatre events, friends passing each other at Treasures at the J, and even a participant in one of her swimming exercise classes at her apt). I will miss bumping into Belle around town as I did just three weeks ago.

Ronald Hill

August 2, 2017

As former CEO for the WRAAA, I had the privilege of knowing and working with Belle Likover for nearly 26 years. She was an amazing human being and humanitarian who dedicated much of her life to helping others, particularly vulnerable elders. Belle was greatly respected and admired by those who knew her, particularly those of us in the aging network. She served with distinction as a regular and lifetime member of WRAAA's Board of Trustees. On a personal level, she was a role model and mentor who helped me to grow and succeed during my 24 year tenure as CEO for WRAAA. The Agency, Community and I were all blessed to have Belle as a supporter and advocate. She made numerous contributions to improving the quality of life and well-being for Older Americans locally and across the State and Nation. Ronald Hill (Poinciana, Florida)