Ray Gawendo

January 4, 1915April 3, 2018

Griswold – Ray Gawendo, a strong and inspirational woman, who survived the Nazi Occupation in Poland, died on April 3 at Norwichtown Rehabilitation and Care Center. She was 103. Ray was born in Minsk, Russia to the late Maurice and Rachela (Gershovitz) Akselrod on January 4, 1915. She was married to Jacob Gawendo, also a Holocaust survivor. He predeceased her in 1983.

Ray was one of the few survivors of the Klooga labor camp in Estonia. After WWII, Ray relocated to Eastern Connecticut where she and her husband owned and operated a chicken farm in Moosup, CT. She did not publicly reveal her story as a Holocaust survivor until much later in life, but through her courage to speak up about hatred and intolerance, Ray became an inspiration to many. Ray will be most remembered for her powerful love of family, her passion for cooking and her insatiable appetite for reading. She is survived by a son Evert Gawendo and his wife Lisa of Griswold, and a son Maurice Gawendo and his wife Shelly Tesler of Mystic. She also leaves behind a grandson Jacob Gawendo and his wife Caitlin, grandson Michael Gawendo and his fiancée Kristine Wujcik, granddaughter Julie Gawendo and her partner J Sassaman of San Francisco, CA, and granddaughter Melissa Pulley and her husband Kyle of Montclair, NJ, as well as great grandchildren Mila, Miles, and Ruby Rae.

A funeral service will be held on Sunday at 9:30 a.m. at Temple Beth Israel in Danielson. Burial will immediately follow at Hebrew Benevolent #3 Cemetery in Preston. The Gawendo family will be sitting Shiva at the home of Evert and Lisa Gawendo, 1837 Glasgo Rd., Griswold, CT on Sunday, April 8, from 4:00 pm until 8:00 pm, with a Shiva minyan at 6:00 pm; and on Monday, April 9, from 5:00 pm until 8:00 pm, with a Shiva minyan at 7:00 pm. In lieu of flowers please donate to the Temple Beth Israel Preservation Society C/O Rosa Goldblatt 63 Sherwood Lane Norwich, CT 06360 or at Please visit to leave an online condolence for the Gawendo family.


  • Funeral Service Sunday, April 8, 2018
  • Burial Sunday, April 8, 2018

Ray Gawendo

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