Mildred Lillian Dreyfus

by | Oct 8, 2021 | Obituaries

CHESAPEAKE—Mildred Lillian Dreyfus, 94, passed away on September 26, 2021, surrounded by her loving family.

She was born in Union City, New Jersey to Benjamin and Rebecca Scherb on December 7, 1926. One of seven siblings, she was a first-generation American in a European immigrant family.

When she was 10 years old, Mildred moved with her family to Montgomery, Ala. for two years as her father took part in building the City of Saint Jude, an institution providing social services to the African American community and an important center of the Civil Rights movement.

After completing her schooling in Union City, Mildred worked for several years in Manhattan’s Garment District. She met Alfred Dreyfus, a German-born Holocaust refugee recently arrived in New York, at a Jewish singles dance at New York’s City Center, and the couple was married in 1951. The couple, soon blessed with children Claudia and Mark, moved frequently as a result of Alfred’s work: from Queens, N.Y. to Schenectady, N.Y. to Stratford, Conn. and finally to Norfolk, Va. in 1966. In the Tidewater area, Mildred was a steadfast partner to her beloved Alfred and instrumental in helping him to establish and grow ECPI University. Her common sense, encyclopedic recall for names and figures, and caring nature were invaluable as she and Alfred built an institution centered on computer science education and other professional training programs. “Mrs D” was well-respected and admired by everyone and a fixture at holiday parties and graduations.

Mildred was devoted to family and especially to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren, to whom she was known affectionately as Oma.

Mildred was renowned as a gourmet cook and delighted in preparing special dishes for the Jewish holidays. She was a repository of family history, using her phenomenal memory to transmit many stories to the younger generations. She kept her wits and sense of humor to her last day.

As her Hebrew name, Malka, evokes, she had a regal presence and always carried herself with dignity and poise. She made friends easily and greeted everyone with a warm smile and a kind word. She was civically minded and dedicated to community welfare, performing many charitable acts without fanfare or recognition. She always put the needs of others before her own.

Mildred is survived by her beloved husband Alfred Dreyfus; daughter Claudia Dreyfus (Henry Levi, of blessed memory); son Mark Dreyfus (Rebecca); grandchildren Brett and Marisa Levi (Andrew Staines), Sam, Max, and Sophia Dreyfus; and great-grandchildren Joshua, Evan, and Natalie Staines.

Following a private family service, she will be interred at Cedar Park Beth-El Cemetery in Paramus, New Jersey.

The family asks that donations be made to the Holocaust Commission of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater or the Beacon Education Foundation LIFT Scholarship, which improves access for African-Americans into skills-based programs that offer economic opportunity and upward mobility.