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Joseph Kushner

Joseph Kushner

Friday, December 25th, 1925 - Wednesday, August 14th, 2019
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Obituary

Joseph Kushner left this world on August 14, 2019 at age 93. He was born December 25, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of Esther Rosenberg Kushner and Harry Kushner. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Frances ("Puppins") Mazzagatti Kushner...also by daughter Beth, son David (wife Carolyn), sister Freda, brother Norman, granddaughters Stacy and Sherry, & numerous nieces and nephews. Caregivers Helen Williams, Claudette Alexander & Donovan Christy provided loving support when Joe was fading, as did close friends Drew Eisen, Charles Giglio, & Rocky Edwards. Joe was laid to rest in a graveside service with military honors at Waldheim Cemetery in Chicago.

Joe was a WWII veteran, joining the US Navy at age16. He was a gunner in the Armed Guard, sailing treacherous, U-boat-riddled waters in perilous times. He settled in Beaumont after he "met a girl". He obtained a BBA from Lamar University, then a Masters Degree in History from University of Houston, after which he dedicated his professional life to teaching at James Bowie Jr High, Beaumont High, & Kelly High schools. Dozens of former students state that "Mr Kushner changed my life" or "was the best teacher I ever had". Joe served as President of the Beaumont Classroom Teachers Ass'n & on Jefferson County grand juries. After retiring, Joe enjoyed substitute-teaching until he was 89 & remained active in the Naval Reserve until his 80s.

Joe was a proud & active elder at Temple Emanuel, where he taught Hebrew & relished Saturday Torah study. He raised blueberries, enjoyed woodworking & yardwork, & often completed the Sunday NYT crossword puzzle in 2 hours---he was the go-to for crossword stumpers. Joe was meticulous, whether it was trimming his beard, bed-making, creating lesson plans, or measuring wood for a project. He loved animals (especially dachshunds) & babies ("little toochies").

Joe had a strong & determined heart. He maintained 4am gym workouts until nearly 91, when he suffered a ruptured brain aneurysm, an injury few survive. Nine months later, he was back on the treadmill at 4am, enjoying post-workout coffee & schmoozing with his gym family. With a large degree of success, he battled subsequent strokes, Bell's Palsy, pancreatitis, & a pancreatic mass before falling irretrievably ill in May 2019.

Joe was witty, generous, compassionate, tolerant of differences, & stoic (even in very difficult circumstances). He was an uncommonly honorable man, but his defining trait may have been humbleness: He could not grasp why former students regarded him with such respect...or why he was loved by so many people.

As a 6-year-old in a Depression-era, single-parent home, Joe sold ice to help his mother supplement meager income. He was well-acquainted with hunger (& later recognized it had made him unable to learn). Elderly Joe shared a fond memory of his Penn Elementary 4th-grade teacher who gave him half her modest lunch because she knew. For this reason, he supported groups & causes that provide food & sustenance.

In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to a food bank, animal shelter, or similar entity. Joe would love that. A memorial gathering to honor him & share stories is planned for Sunday, September 22nd, 2-4 pm, at Temple Emanuel's Swerdlow Hall in Beaumont Texas. If severe weather threatens, it will be rescheduled.
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Service Details

  • Memorial Service

    Sunday, September 22nd, 2019 | 2:00pm
    When
    Sunday, September 22nd, 2019 2:00pm
    Location
    Temple Emanuel
    Address
    1120 Broadway
    Beaumont, TX 77701
    Get Directions: View Map | Text | Email
    2pm-4pm

Affiliations

  • US Navy

Condolences

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KM

K M

Posted at 12:12pm
I had Mr Kushner for World History and took Sociology just so I could have him for a teacher again. Our class made the yearbook. He taught us as if we were college students. Lecture and take notes. Loved his classes and him. I remember that his birthday was December 25th. I left him a card as we left for the Christmas Holidays to the effect that.... It is customary to send cards of good wishes to someone on their birthday. That these are often accompanied by gifts...... Inside: However, not always. :D I thought it was in keeping with his rather dry sense of humor. Never got to see his reaction. Rest in peace dear teacher.
B

Beth

Posted at 09:44am
I wrote Dad's tribute with the intention of publishing it in the Bmt Enterprise. This required some (attempt at) brevity. When I opted not to publish in that newspaper but to, instead, circulate the obituary online and here at Mitzvah, I forgot to first revise it. What I want to say here is how deeply grateful I am to Dad's nephew (my cousin) Phil Mushlin, a Boston physician and Harvard researcher without whose intervention Dad would not have recovered after the 2016 aneurysm rupture. Phil acted as both loving family member and insightful medical professional. He got involved and, literally, saved Dad from the decline in care/interest that evolved at Memorial Hermann after Dad's surgery to coil the rupture. "Brilliant" is a word I use infrequently, but it describes Phil. He is forever one of my heroes.
AC

Allison Cambre

Posted at 09:51pm
I went to James Bowie Jr. High. I never had Mr. Kushner, but I always held him in awe. He had such a fine demeanor and discipline about him, impeccably dressed, someone whom I could sense took history seriously, and shared his love of learning with his students. There was a part of me that sensed that he could have done anything. Why in the world would he choose to teach in a jr. high? It was many years later before I came into touch with what a "calling" might mean. Through the years, I always wondered what happened to him.

Allison Cambre
WA

William Armstrong

Posted at 08:42pm
I had the privilege of working with Joe at BCP in the early 80's. He was a positive influence not only on his students, but on rookie teachers as well. I had a wonderful 35 year career in teaching because of his influence. He left the world a better place than he found it... Godspeed Mr. Kushner
JS

John D Sniffen

Posted at 02:59pm
What that separated Mr. Kushner from many other teachers in high school is that he taught us how to use our developing minds to find answers, make decisions and better understand the world around us. Thank you, Mr. K.
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