Donna, what was the Greatest Generation?
Episode #
Thursday, March 28, 2024

Donna, what was the Greatest Generation?

The Storyworth Podcast
Episode Description

In this episode of the Storyworth Podcast, Krista talks with Donna Katz about her inspiring grandmother Sadie and the sacrifices she made to support her son through law school. Donna shares how Sadie's determination continue to inspire her family and others.

In 1998, Tom Brokaw authored a highly acclaimed book titled The Greatest Generation, which popularized the phrase and celebrated the remarkable resilience and determination of that era. My grandmother, Sadie, belonged to this extraordinary generation and lived through the challenging times of the Great Depression and World War II.

Despite facing immense hardships, she never complained and took whatever needed to be done in her stride. Sadie was a mother of four children, with my mother Irma being the eldest and only daughter. Her three brothers, Joel, Norman, and Jay, all served in the U.S. Navy. Joel and Norman contributed during World War II, while Jay served later in the Korean War.

At the young age of 18, Jay lost his father and aspired to attend college. To realize this dream, he enrolled at Brooklyn College, which was part of the tuition-free New York City public education system. Excelling in his studies, he wished to continue to law school and to become an attorney, recognizing the significance of attending a reputable institution.

Columbia University, an Ivy League School, accepted him. However, the financial burden was significant, as Jay was already working part-time as a soda jerk in a pharmacy and a nighttime clerk at a liquor store. At this point, Sadie stepped in.

Despite being in her 60s, she decided to reenter the workforce as a bookkeeper. Determined to support her son, she marched into the Brooklyn Navy Yard. She said to them, "when the Navy needed sailors to fight the nation's wars, I gave you three sons. Now you give me a job."

They hired her on the spot.

She worked there for three years and successfully put Jay through law school. Upon his graduation, she retired. Jay always cherished his mother's sacrifice, and once he achieved financial success, he established the Sadie and Morris Wertheimer Scholarship Fund as a tribute to his parents. This scholarship aimed to help other aspiring students and achieve their academic dreams.

To me, my grandmother Sadie and my uncle Jay serve as shining examples of the greatest generation, embodying resilience, selflessness, and dedication to family and community. Their actions and accomplishments continue to inspire and make a lasting impact on the lives of others.

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