Sylvia Dinhofer Helfert

August 1, 1920August 3, 2013

Sylvia Dinhofer Helfert, 93, of Marina Del Rey, passed away August 3, 2013, at her residence. She was born August 1, 1920, in Brooklyn, New York, and will be best remembered by all those who loved her for her powerful presence and commanding figure in all situations. Sylvia possessed a keen mind and extensive vocabulary, captivating everyone with her wonderful tales of travel and adventure. Sylvia grew up in Brooklyn, the eldest of three children of Julius (Jay) and Estelle Oelbum Dinhofer. As a young woman, she worked for her father who owned the largest diamond cutting factory in New York City, and who helped create the first Bulova watches. After attending college at Long Island University, Sylvia married Irving Helfert, DDS, MD (University of Buffalo), and moved to Dayton, Ohio, where Irving became a noted Urologist and Chief of Surgery and Chief of Staff at both Good Samaritan and St. Elizabeth Hospitals, and where Sylvia and Irving raised their three children; Bruce, Jay and Carole. Her oldest son, Bruce Stephen Helfert, MD, who became a surgeon and served as a Captain in the Air Force, preceded his mother in death. In honor of her son, Sylvia created, in perpetuity, Purdue University’s important Bruce Stephen Helfert, MD Memorial Award, given annually to the University’s outstanding junior student. Sylvia and Irving also donated the large painted mural which covers the main wall in the interior of the building housing the nationally-known non-profit New Directions, Inc., located at the Los Angeles Veterans Administration. In Dayton, Sylvia established a successful interior design company, decorating many important homes, hotels and country clubs. In the summers, she acted in the local theater productions of “South Pacific”, “The King and I” and “Annie Get Your Gun”, among many others, and landed the lead roles in dramatic plays including “Born Yesterday”. Using her exquisite artistic eye, Sylvia was an avid supporter of the Dayton Art Institute. As a hobby, Sylvia, along with her husband Irving, became well-known throughout the Dayton area for their love of entertaining at their gorgeous home, throwing fabulous parties which attracted entertainers, sports figures, politicians and prominent people in business, medicine and aeronautics. After moving to Southern California in 1974, Sylvia entered the real estate business as a single woman, buying a small piece of property in Bakersfield. Eventually, she established a unique portfolio of interesting properties including homes, apartment buildings and the well-known “Disney Cottages” in Silver Lake. Sylvia personally and actively managed her real estate business until shortly before her death. At the same time, Sylvia traveled to England to study at Oxford, returned to her father’s roots in Rumania, spent time at Osan Air Force Base in Korea where her son had been stationed, cruised on the Queen Elizabeth II, and did The New York Times Sunday Crossword puzzle, in ink, each week. Given her amazing life, Sylvia’s wide circle of friends encompassed the globe and she managed to stay in touch with everyone via mail and phone. At the Holidays and on her birthday, Sylvia’s home would be filled with cards, flowers and gifts. She especially loved watching the Marina del Rey Harbor fireworks display held each July 4th and Christmas, directly across from her front walkway, and she happily welcomed everyone to enjoy her terrific outdoor barbeques. Sylvia is survived by her loving children Jay Andrew Helfert and Carole Helfert Aragon, along with Carole’s husband Audie Aragon, her sister Marcia Teschner of Rye Brook, NY, her brother Milton Dinhofer of Los Angeles, two grandchildren, two great-grandchildren, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends who love her and will miss her dearly. Burial took place at Eden Memorial Park, Mission Hills, California. In memory of Sylvia, donations may be made to New Directions, Inc., 11303 Wilshire Blvd., Bldg. 116, Los Angeles, CA 90073.


  • Funeral Service Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Sylvia Dinhofer Helfert

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Thelma, Nancy, Jack, Alan, Roger, Jamie Donenfeld

August 5, 2013

Although we can't be with you while you remember your mom, you're in our thoughts today and always from afar. No bond is as great as that between you and your mom, but Sylvia's passing is mourned by so many of us whose lives have been blessed by her love and care. Our deepest condolences are with you as you grieve. Your mom and my dad, Ralph, were widely loved business people who treated everyone as one of their own friends or family. Our mothers sat together for hours sharing stories in Sylvia's beautiful apartment. I regret I only learned a small portion of the adventures, love, and wisdom they shared about their lives. Dayton, OH lives on our memories. Our thoughts and prayers are with you in your time of grief. May your memories bring you comfort and peace. Shalom. The Donenfelds.