Zelma Goodman Rivin

by | Nov 10, 2016 | Obituaries

Portsmouth —Zelma Goodman Rivin died on October 29, 2016, 10 days before her 95th birthday. She left us while residing in her home in Portsmouth, just as she intended, during the same week of the year as her mother, Belle Blachman Goodman, died.

She was preceded in death by her husband of 71 years, Bernard, her daughter, Rosalind Chernoff, and two older sisters, Helen Goodman Gifford, and Elsie Goodman Leviton. She is survived by her son, Richard, and his husband, Theo Bonk; her daughter, Anne Stanfield, and her husband, Jeffrey; and her son, Jonathan, and his wife Tempe Reichardt. She was also greatly loved by her grandchildren Ellen Friedman (Rob) of Scarsdale, N.Y.; Michael Stanfield (Anne) of Minneapolis, Minn.; Jason Chernoff (Maggie) of Chicago, Ill.; Sam Chernoff of Brooklyn, N.Y.; Alex Rivin of Concord, Calif.; Sarah Rivin of Queens, N.Y.; and Andrew Rivin, of San Francisco, Calif. Over the last decade, she welcomed with joy three great-grandchildren, Rebecca Friedman, Charlie Friedman and Benjamin Stanfield.

Born in Portsmouth, Zelma was proud of her family business, The Famous of Portsmouth, a women’s ready-to-wear clothing store, and helped insure that women’s fashion was elevated to a fine art in the entire southeastern portion of the Commonwealth of Virginia. She worked tirelessly throughout her life for the benefit of the City and its citizens. She taught her children through example the importance of giving back to the community. Many of her friends and relatives consider her a vibrant role model and mentor extraordinaire.

Her local service on behalf of Portsmouth’s growth and development is well-documented, and seemingly was capped in 1995, when she was honored as the 57th First Citizen of Portsmouth. She was a founder of Help and Emergency Response (HER) Inc., an emergency shelter for battered women in the region. She served her local Jewish community, elected in 1975 as the first female president of Temple Sinai, of which she and Bernard were founding members. She also found time to obtain a master’s degree in urban studies during the 1970s from Old Dominion University. Her thesis, Homesteading in Urban America, was published a few years later.

However, at the end of the 20th century, she was only getting her “second wind.” For the last 16 years, her primary interest has been the preservation of the historic Chevra T’helim synagogue in downtown Portsmouth, which has been reborn as The Jewish Museum and Cultural Center, an area-wide attraction.

A memorial service was held in the main sanctuary of Ohef Sholom Temple.

Contributions to the Jewish Museum and Cultural Center, 607 Effingham Street, Portsmouth, VA 23704; to The HER Shelter, P.O. Box 2187, Portsmouth, VA 23702, or to a local charity of one’s choice. Sturtevant Funeral Home.