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 Marsha Joy <I>Benjamin</I> Gardenswartz

Marsha Joy Benjamin Gardenswartz

Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, USA
Death 20 Jun 2008 (aged 54)
Denver, Denver County, Colorado, USA
Burial Commerce City, Adams County, Colorado, USA
Memorial ID 100127323 · View Source
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Marsha Gardenswartz, a bright light and dynamic beacon in Denver's Jewish community, passed away June 20, 2008, in Denver. She was 54.

Rabbis Steven Foster and Bruce Dollin and Cantor Joel Lichterman officiated at the June 23 service at BMH-BJ, which was filled to capacity.

Interment followed at Rose Hill Cemetery. Feldman Mortuary made the arrangements.

Mrs. Gardenswartz, who was diagnosed with stage four melanoma in 2005, educated friends and strangers alike about the dangers of skin cancer.

"One of the good things to come out of my experience is that what happened to me hit a lot of people in the face like a head-on accident," she told the IJN in a June 30, 2006 interview.
"People are more conscious about the danger of melanoma now," she said. "My hope is that people become paranoid and check out every little thing they notice, instead of saying, ‘oh, it's nothing.'"
At the service, Mark Benjamin, one of Marsha's two brothers, described his sister with equal parts love, admiration and humor.

"When Marsha was taken from us, she was in the prime of life," he said. "But in truth, anyone who knew Marsha knew that this day was inevitable, because Marsha was in the prime of life every day of her life. She lived and loved every single minute. And did she ever know how to have fun!"

A couple of months ago, realizing that her battle with cancer was nearing its end, Marsha sent an e-mail to friends announcing that when life served her lemons, she preferred to break out the tequila and use the lemons in a celebration — which she did, at a lemon-themed costume party at BMH-BJ.

"Several weeks ago," Mark said, "Marsha and I talked about her eulogy, and she extracted some promises from me. So Marsha, I end now believing that I have kept my promises. I have been honest; I hope I have been brief enough. I didn't call you a hero or a saint.

"I hope the things I did call you — fiercely determined, committed, fun-loving, beautiful, and one who always said ‘Hineini' — are pleasing to you. You were all these things, and more."

Marsha Benjamin was born on Dec. 12, 1953, in Cleveland. She earned a teaching degree in special education and later taught in DPS.

She moved to Denver in 1976.

Marsha met Ian Gardenswartz at a Colorado Zionist Federation event. They were married on Nov. 24, 1977.

She began volunteering for the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado shortly after her marriage.

Mrs. Gardenswartz served as president of the federation's women's division (1993-1994) and then chaired the women's campaign and missions committee. She also was on the planning and allocations committee, organized the first Choices event and created the federation's young leadership division.

An ardent supporter of Israel, Mrs. Gardenswartz led the 1996 Jerusalem 3000 mission to the Jewish state with her husband. Many federation missions followed, as well as numerous personal trips to Israel.

Mrs. Gardenswartz entered the federation's executive hierarchy in 1997.

In 2000, she was appointed the first director of its new Israel Center.

Allied Jewish Federation honored her with The Golda in 2003.

Doug Seserman, president and CEO of the federation, was in Israel when the service took place.

"Like many people who traveled to Israel with Marsha, I fell in love with the land through her love of the land," he said in prepared remarks that were read at the service.

"I will always remember Marsha for her vibrant personality, joy of life and commitment to her people," he wrote.

Mrs. Gardenswartz' Jewish communal involvement was extensive. She was co-president of EDOS' women's auxiliary, past president of the RMHA board, a lifetime member of Hadassah and board member at BMH-BJ and The Jewish Experience; and a founding member of CHAI (Community Help and Abuse Information), created to help Jewish victims of domestic abuse.

TRI, BMH-BJ, Keshet of the Rockies and many other organizations honored Mrs. Gardenswartz for her indefatigable contributions.

Mrs. Gardenswartz loved traveling the world and experiencing other cultures.

In her 2006 interview with the IJN, she talked about her illness with unswerving honesty, integrity and characteristic optimism.

"I'll do what I have to do," she said. "What's the value of giving up? What's the point? I have a wonderful family, wonderful friends. I've got too much to do."

She also thanked the community she had served so well for their reciprocal support, from hot meals to heartfelt prayers.

"You just don't realize the strength you pull from other people when they're pulling for you."

Mrs. Gardenswartz is survived by her husband Ian Gardenswartz; children Hillary Gardenswartz of New York, Shana (David) Jacobs of Denver and Noah Gardenswartz of Atlanta, Ga.; brothers Harvey (Susan) Benjamin of California and Mark (Judith) Benjamin of Washington; and mother-in-law Rosyne Gardenswartz.

Contributions may be made to the CU Cancer Center/Melanoma Research or Allied Jewish Federation's Ramat-Negev Fund.




  • Created by: ACSwanson
  • Added: 4 Nov 2012
  • Find A Grave Memorial 100127323
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Marsha Joy Benjamin Gardenswartz (12 Dec 1953–20 Jun 2008), Find A Grave Memorial no. 100127323, citing Rose Hill Cemetery, Commerce City, Adams County, Colorado, USA ; Maintained by ACSwanson (contributor 47094290) .