Thelma <I>Scheer</I> Lansky

Thelma Scheer Lansky

New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 17 May 1997 (aged 89)
Miami Beach, Miami-Dade County, Florida, USA
Burial West Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida, USA
Plot Sigelbaum Mausoleum
Memorial ID 19769458 · View Source
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Thelma ''Teddy'' Lansky, widow of reputed Mafia financial wizard Meyer Lansky, who remained loyal to him through sickness, indictments and death, died Saturday, May 17, 1997 at Mount Sinai Hospital after a Massive Stroke. She was 89.

Although she was married to the most famous American mobster of his time, ''Teddy'' Lansky was not a public figure. She lived quietly at the Imperial House on Collins Avenue in Miami Beach, both before and after her husband's death in 1983 and insisted she could never comment on her husband's business because she had never asked him what he did for a living.

''They were both very quiet people,'' said her granddaughter from a previous marriage, Judy Gretah of North Miami. ''My grandfather would have led a quiet life, except they were always coming after him, if you know what I mean.''

On one of the times the government came after Meyer Lansky -- an indictment for tax evasion in 1973 -- it was the blond ''Teddy'' who helped clear him. A 300-pound hoodlum named ''Fat Vinnie'' Teresa swore he had made a payment to Lansky in Miami, his cut from the operation of a London casino, money on which Lansky never paid taxes.

''Teddy'' Lansky took the stand and testified that her husband had been with her in a Boston hotel, recovering from a hernia operation and taking care of a sick dog on the date the payment was allegedly made. Jurors believed her and not ''Fat Vinnie'' and acquitted Lansky.

Another public episode in her life was probably the most painful. In October 1977, her son from her first marriage, Richard Schwartz, was shotgunned to death outside his Bay Harbor restaurant. He had been scheduled to go to trial one month later in the murder of Craig Teriaca, son of Vincent Teriaca, a reputed mobster. Schwartz had allegedly shot Teriaca after an argument in the bar of The Forge restaurant in Miami Beach.

At the time, police called Schwartz's death a revenge killing. Family members insisted that despite being Meyer Lansky's stepson, Schwartz had never been involved in organized crime.

''He was her only child and she never got over that,'' Gretah said of her grandmother.

Meyer Lansky was at her side at the funeral. She had met him in 1947 while on vacation in Miami and they were married the next year.

''After that they were pretty much inseparable,'' Gretah said.

She was by his side when he had Open Heart Surgery in 1973 and when he suffered from Lung Cancer in 1980. She also lived with Lansky while he ran casinos in Cuba in the 1950s and early 1960s and also lived with him in Israel in the 1970s before he was expelled because of his mob ties.

After his death from cancer, she volunteered as a fund-raiser for the Women's Cancer League of Miami Beach and dedicated much of her time to her family. Her husband had a son from his first marriage, ''Buddy'' who had multiple sclerosis and she was known to visit him regularly with old mayonnaise jars full of chicken soup, before his death.

Gretah said the oft-told story that her grandmother had been a manicurist when she met Lansky was not true.

''She couldn't even do her own nails,'' Gretah said, let alone her husband's. ''Neither of my grandparents led lives like the ones you read about. She was a lady and he was a gentleman.''

She was Entombed at the Sigelbaum Mausoleum at Mount Nebo Cemetery just one hundred yards from Meyer's grave on Monday, May 19th 1997 at 1 P.M.

Family Members


  • Created by: Ryan D. Curtis
  • Added: 7 Jun 2007
  • Find a Grave Memorial 19769458
  • G Jack Donahue
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Thelma Scheer Lansky (18 Nov 1907–17 May 1997), Find a Grave Memorial no. 19769458, citing Mount Nebo Miami Memorial Gardens, West Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida, USA ; Maintained by Ryan D. Curtis (contributor 46858513) .