Gladys Cansino Lehman

by | Jan 16, 2017 | Obituaries

Richmond —Gladys Cansino Lehman passed away on December 26, 2016.

She is survived by her loving husband Alfred W. Lehman, her four children, Robert, Laurence, Nancy and her husband Andrew Newman, and Richard and his wife Amy Beth; her five grandchildren, Michael Lehman, Brian Newman, Rebecca Newman, Jacob Lehman and Ari Lehman; and her sisters Minnie Held and Gloria Weiner Adams (her third sister, Evelyn Flax, preceded her).

Gladys was born in Casablanca, French Morocco on January 19, 1929. In 1940 during World War II , she came to America with her family (parents Jack and Ruby Cansino, and three sisters), just as the Germans were preparing to occupy the city. At the young age of 12, Gladys became ill with Rheumatic Fever and was bed-ridden for about a year, where her grandmother took exceptional care of her. It is from this debilitating experience and from the loving experiences with her grandmother, that she learned about caregiving, which would ultimately direct her to an altruistic life of immeasurable humanitarian endeavors.

Gladys was the embodiment of kindness, caring, and selfless philanthropy to the Richmond community. While wholly committed to her family in raising children and providing for her husband, she also dedicated her life to volunteering and she devoted her time to charitable causes. She instilled in her children and grandchildren the importance of family bonds and in loving and serving our fellow man.

Demonstrating by example, she leaves behind the legacy of untold numbers of good, honest, and charitable family and friends. Gladys began her life’s mission of volunteering with the JCC Grand Group in 1958 and found a home for her prodigious and benevolent energies of serving people, especially the elderly. For over 52 years, Gladys produced and directed numerous plays and musicals for the Grand Group, as well as coordinated and directed arts and crafts projects for the “experienced generation,” as she liked to call them, in order to encourage their lively participation in healthy activities. A few years later, she formed the Grand Tones, a musical band of senior citizens, which entertained and provided a cathartic outlet for the residents of most, if not all, of Richmond’s retirement homes and communities.

Gladys was an extremely talented artist. She created dozens of large needlepoint, hook-rug, and calligraphic artworks that hang to this day in many locations. She painted and drew beautiful pictures of ritualistic Judaica, animals, ships, and scenery. Gladys was well known for knitting some of the most aesthetic works of art of tallisim and kippot that are admired and cherished by her family. Gladys was also a professional calligrapher and was sought after by Virginia Governors Godwin and Holton, to produce engraved invitations and to maintain the Perpetual Album of “Friends of The Executive Mansion.” Gladys was even a certified transcriber of Braille, where two of her books can be found in the library of the Jewish Blind of N.Y.

Recognition of her bountiful compassion and wholehearted generosity came in the form of the many awards bestowed upon her, which include the Rudlin Torah Academy Chesed Award in 1985, the Elizabeth Gibble Award as Volunteer for the State of Virginia, the Esther Bernstein Award, and most recently the Sofie Stahl Award sponsored by Jewish Women International.

Funeral services were held at Bliley Funeral Home. Interment followed in Richmond Beth El Cemetery at Forest Lawn. Donations to the Grand Tones at the Weinstein JCC in Richmond or to the Alzheimer’s Association.