France Levy Birshtein

by | Oct 8, 2020 | Obituaries

Norfolk—Frances Levy Birshtein, 81, passed away peacefully with her family by her side in Norfolk, Virginia on September 28, 2020.

The daughter of the late Fannie and Hyman Davis, she was born Frances Anne Davis on February 8, 1939 in Manhattan and spent her early childhood in Haverstraw, New York, along with her late older brother, David Davis, and her late younger sister, Jeanne Rabinowitz. She moved to Norfolk at a young age and attended Taylor Elementary, Blair Middle School, and Maury High School. An athletic child, she developed a love for tennis and went on to become a state champion in high school two years in a row. She continued to play tennis through adulthood and picked up the game of golf later in life like a natural. Additionally, she played clarinet in her high school marching band.

After graduating from Maury High School as the valedictorian of her class, Mrs. Birshtein attended the College of William & Mary on a full scholarship, where she received her bachelor’s degree. She continued her education and blazed a trail for women as the only female student at William & Mary Law School. She completed both degrees in just over four years to take advantage of the undergraduate scholarship. Upon graduation in 1962, she returned to Norfolk and practiced law for many years as one of the first female attorneys in the city.

Frances lived according to her belief that one should “remember from whence they came and always give back.” Over the course of her life, she was a pillar of her community, serving as the president of numerous organizations: William & Mary Hillel, the local chapter of Hadassah, the Hebrew Ladies Charity Society, Beth El Synagogue’s Sisterhood, the Auxiliary of Beth Sholom, the Beth Sholom Home, and The Terrace at Beth Sholom. True to her beliefs, she went on to serve as a board member of Jewish Family Service, where she represented the Hebrew Ladies Charity Society, the organization which had provided her with a much-needed gift certificate in her youth to purchase a confirmation dress when her family was unable to afford such an extravagance.

She also created Life and Legacy scholarships at Old Dominion University, Beth Sholom Village, and Jewish Family Service. A deeply proud Jew and Zionist, she traveled several times to Israel over the years.

In 1964, Mrs. Birshtein married Dr. Donald Marvin Levy, with whom she had five children, while also raising her niece and nephew, Deborah Eken and the late Edward Davis. Following Dr. Levy’s untimely death in 1984, she married Oscar Brandeis Birshtein in 1986, with whom she had a loving and fulfilling marriage until his death in 1997.

In 2001, she married Stanley Weigen, to whom she was married until his death in 2013.

Referred to as “Mimi” by her grandchildren, Frances was committed to education and took great pride in the many post-graduate degrees achieved by her five children, all of whom survive her: Jeffrey Levy, Michael Levy, Stephen Levy, Douglas Levy, and Susan Brown. Frances is also survived by her eight grandchildren: Daniel Levy, Olivia Levy, Chloe Levy, Dylan Levy, Molly Levy, Noah Levy, Mallory Brown, and Landon Brown. She is dearly missed by her daughters-in-law: Anne Levy, Gina Levy, and Dara Levy and her son-in-law, Jonathan Brown.

Her unbreakable commitment to family is evident in the nurturing relationships she had with her many relatives and their extended families everywhere. She was a true matriarch.

The funeral and memorial service was held at Forest Lawn Cemetery. Online condolences may be offered to the family at Donations to Jewish Family Service and Beth Sholom Home.