Beatrice “Bea” <I>Kramer</I> Spielman

Beatrice “Bea” Kramer Spielman

New York, New York County (Manhattan), New York, USA
Death 14 Sep 2010 (aged 91)
Lewisburg, Union County, Pennsylvania, USA
Burial Unknown
Memorial ID 66996072 · View Source
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Beatrice Spielman, 91, died Tuesday, Sept, 14, 2010, at her home after many months of illness, surrounded family and friends. She was known in the Lewisburg community for her warm hospitality and extensive community service. She treated friends as family and as a result created an extended family of hundreds.

Bea was born in New York City on Sept. 28, 1918, to Rebeacca and Elias Kramer, Romanian immigrants. She was one of nine children, all raised in a caring environment filled with humor and verve. Coming of age during the Great Depression, she attended Drake Business School in New York while also working as a legal secretary. In 1944, during World War II, she married Ralph Spielman while he was in the Army. (Decades later she regaled friends with stories of following him from Army camp to Army camp in the Midwest).

In 1946, their son Richard was born and Ralph started his doctorate on the GI Bill. He was at the University of Michigan, and Bea took a job there as co-editor of the newsletter of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), published by the university's Institute of Social Research. Upon finishing his degree, Ralph took professorships at a few different universities before the family settled in Lewisburg. It was 1958.

He spent the rest of his career as Professor of Sociology at Bucknell. Bea took a number of positions over the years, most notably as the court reporter to the judge in Union and Snyder counties and at one time was in charge of the Congressional Office in Sunbury.

She divided her time between work and the home life of a faculty wife and proud mother. (She saw her son grow up, finish his doctorate and become a professor himself, at Penn). She became known for her gourmet cooking and warm hospitality. Over the years, her dinner parties and brunches brought countless hundreds of people together in lively conversation.

Bea and Ralph were very close. It was a romantic relationship, and they were also of a single mind. His untimely death from cancer in 1978 left her heartbroken. Nevertheless, over the next 30 years, she built a strong, solitary life of community service and warm friendships. For several years she worked at the local Elder Hostel project at Bucknell. She participated in Bucknell's initiation and management of the Ralph Spielman Memorial Lectures. At age 70, she entered the Peace Corps and spent almost two years teaching English to middle school children on the Pacific (Micronesian) island of Yap. Back in Lewisburg she filled her life with community service projects. She also drew friends and neighbors in to an extended family of her own making. When, in April of last year, her only child, Richard suddenly passed away, the many surrogate grandchildren and children from her extended families came to try and comfort her as she had always nurtured and comforted them.

From her early days in Lewisburg until her very last days, Bea left her mark on the community through her two greatest passions: the struggle for social justice and the importance of family. To her, one flows from the other. (She often credited her mother, who helped others during the Depression. "She was the kind of person who could not tolerate the thought of families being evicted for the non-payment of rent.")

She drew people in to an extended family, and she built that family one friend at a time. Many say that they first met her because they moved in nearby, or they met her at a social gathering, or they were new at the university. Very soon afterward they would find themselves as the next new guest at her dinner party. She welcomed everybody into her life and wanted to know all about their triumphs and sorrows, and she embraced their children. She brought people together. Her generosity was boundless.

She often expressed her love through her cooking and used it in support of community service projects. She donated home-cooked gourmet dinners in silent auctions. She solicited free dinners from restaurants for election workers. When a charitable organization held a fundraiser, she often managed the food.

Bea worked for many social service organizations as a volunteer worker, as a fund raiser, as a board member and by taking an active role in politics. She was the longest serving member of the Democratic Committee of Union County and was an active member of the League of Women voters for over 50 years. She was appointed by Gov. Rendell to the Union County Board of Assistance and was on the boards of Union County Citizens for Diversity and of the Lewisburg Prison Project, which upholds prisoners' rights. She volunteered her time and effort at Evangelical Community Hospital, Susquehanna Valley Women in Transition (SWIT), the Community Alliance for Respect and Equality (CARE), the Prison Visitors Service, the American Red Cross, the Arts Festival, Heiter Community Center and the Lewisburg Visitors Bureau.

Bea is preceded in death by her husband, Ralph; her son, Richard; and seven of her siblings. She is survived by her brother, Jerry Kramer and his wife Elaine; by daughter-in-law, Dr. Vivian Cheung, whose loving care eased Bea's final hours; by her granddaughter, Anita; numerous loving nephews and nieces and their offspring; as well as the host of friends who think of themselves as her family.

A Celebration for Beatrice C. Spielman, 91, of Lewisburg, who passed away on Sept. 14, 2010, was held from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, March 20. 2011 in the Terrace Room of the Langone Center, Bucknell University, Lewisburg.

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  • Created by: Betty
  • Added: 16 Mar 2011
  • Find A Grave Memorial 66996072
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for Beatrice “Bea” Kramer Spielman (18 Sep 1918–14 Sep 2010), Find A Grave Memorial no. 66996072, ; Maintained by Betty (contributor 47037408) Unknown.