Born: July 16, 1923
Died: November 23, 2012
Melvin J Kirschner died November 23, 2012 in Las Cruces, NM at a youthful age 89 after over 4 years of treatments for Mantle Cell Lymphoma. He responded to his disease as he did to life with a smile, a positive attitude, and a continuing interest in the welfare of others.
Mel was born on July 16, 1923 in St. Paul, MN to Milton and Dora (Kramer) Kirschner, who both had immigrated as young children to America from the Baltic States. His siblings, Norman and Gloria, were born some years later.
As a teenager he played basketball, was active in Young Judea and in scouting. On May 24, 1942, just before high school graduation, he eloped with Doris Schechter and was married in Hudson, WI, a secret that only one other person knew for the next 50 years. A religious ceremony with family and friends occurred on December 6, 1942 in St. Paul, MN. He was fully a member of Harry and Esther Schechter’s extended family.
Mel and Doris raised 3 sons, Barry, Richard, and Robert, to be caring, competent, and independent adults. He was a caring father-in-law to Charlene, Patricia, and Judy, grandfather to Shanna (Robert) Hodgson and Danielle Kirschner, and great-grandfather to Austen Kirschner. Mel was a care-giver for Doris during much of her 40 years with lupus and her final years with multiple myeloma (deceased May 7, 2001). Doris and Barry predeceased Mel, as did his parents Milton and Dora Kirschner, Harry and Esther Schechter, brother Norman and sister-in-law Ruth Kirschner, and brother-in-law Louis Schechter. He is survived by his children Richard and Patti (Kalamazoo, MI), Robert and Judy (Las Cruces), sister Gloria and brother-in-law Alan Stein, Irving and Ceil Schechter and Raleigh Schechter. Mel also has many cousins, nephews, and nieces, most of whom live in Minnesota.
Mel was fortunate to again find a great love, and remarried on June 2, 2002 to Lila Ziegler in Las Cruces, NM. He derived great joy from his additional family – including Lila’s children – Steven “Shaya” Kelter (Israel), Susan and Yossi Lapid (Las Cruces), and Stuart Kelter and Leora Zeitlin (Las Cruces) – and grandchildren Michael, Moriah and Shlomo Kelter, Tamar (Roey) Katz, Ilana, Lior, and Talia Lapid, and Jacob and Amalia Kelter-Zeitlin and great-grandson Jonathan Katz.
Mel was the first in his extended family to attend college. Denied entry into Architecture School because of his religion, he applied his curiosity and problem-solving skills to a career as a chemical engineer. His education at the University of Minnesota was interrupted by over 2 years of service in the Army, as a medical technologist in the US, in England, and in France during World War II. After being discharged, he worked to finance his education and support his family with jobs in construction, sales, tow truck driving, and delivering beverages for his father-in-law to grocery stores and honky-tonks throughout the Twin Cities. He completed his B.Ch.E in 1948. His first professional job was at an ordnance plant in Grand Island, NE (1950-53), followed by a short period at the Ford plant in St. Paul, MN. He then was employed at Minneapolis Honeywell, starting with temperature regulators, progressing to aircraft, spacecraft, and missile guidance systems, and completing his career in information systems. His career included 6 months in Clearwater, FL and 2 years in Florence, Italy. He retired in 1982. He was a founding member and past President of the Minnesota Microfilm Association and involved with the National Micrographics Association, serving on the Board of Directors from 1976 through 1979. Mel and Doris moved from Minneapolis, MN to Las Cruces, NM in 1995, after several years exploring America in their RV.
Mel had many interests and hobbies. He was as good with his hands as with his mind. He delighted in identifying ways to make homes and other buildings more livable, and remodeled parts of all the homes he owned. Mel was also an accomplished cook, responsible for much of the work in preparing the elaborate meals for large family gatherings at the holidays. Mel and Doris also hosted large “cookie” parties at their home on Benton Blvd, with fantastically decorated cookies and cakes that awed generations of children. In Minnesota he volunteered at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Hennepin County Historical Society. Mel and Doris donated their extensive cookbook collection to the University of Minnesota Magrath Library where a special “Kirschner Cookbook Collection” section is housed. He especially enjoyed woodworking projects. After Robert and his family moved to Las Cruces, they built the Aron Kodesh (Ark) and the Bimah lectern for Temple Beth-El. He enjoyed the many challenges of the projects and the chance to work together with his son both designing and constructing the beautiful and enduring pieces of art. He served on the Temple’s Board of Directors and helped out in other positions. He headed the Maintenance Committee at Mesilla Park Heritage Association Condominiums on Conway Avenue for 3 years where he enjoyed working with the crew, meeting the opportunities for maintenance and proposing ideas for the future.
The Funeral ceremony will take place on Sunday November 25, 2012 at 1pm at Temple Beth-El, 3980 Sonoma Springs Ave, Las Cruces, NM 88011 and burial will follow at Masonic Cemetery. Rabbi Lawrence Karol will officiate at the service. Memorial donations may be made to a charity of your choice. Shiva will be at 4940 Ocotillo Rd, Las Cruces Sunday, Monday and Tuesday at 7pm. Arrangements are with La Paz-Graham's Funeral Home.