(Jan. 11, 1915 - Oct. 17, 2016)
Fay Blank Bloom passed away at Spirit Mountain Hospice House in Cody, Wyoming on Monday morning, Oct. 17 with family, close friends, and compassionate staff members by her side. Her mental acuity and distinctive sense of humor all remained constant through her final hours.
She was three months short of her 102nd birthday. Born on Jan. 11, 1915 in New York City, Fay lived a rich life. Her parents had come to NY from outside of Odessa, Ukraine in 1907 on board the Lusitania, bringing with them the four first-born children of her father, three sons and a daughter. It was in Harlem, as it was at the beginning of the last century, that Fay and her two older sisters, Yetta and Anna, were born. While she had many stories to tell about living through two world wars, the Great Depression, and the New Deal, she also talked about swooning over Frank Sinatra when he performed live at the Paramount Theater near Times Square!
It was during World War II, while she was working as “Rosie the Riveter” in a munitions plant that she met a tall, strikingly handsome, and gentle man, Albert Bloom. They married in June, 1942 and began their lives together strolling the streets of Manhattan, exploring museums, reading the Sunday N.Y. Times, and discovering the best delicatessens the city had to offer. Fay and Al both worked in retail and, along with her sister and brother-in-law, helped form the United Retail Workers’ Union, ultimately achieving a 40-hour workweek and numerous other benefits. Fay always supported liberal causes and embodied a spirit of tolerance that became increasingly inclusive as the world became smaller.
While she loved work and continued well into her 80s, Fay loved even more being a mother to Harriet (born in 1946) and Edward (born in 1950). Friday evenings brought family members together for Sabbath dinners, and Sundays were for drives outside the city. Summers were spent in the Catskill Mountains. The Bloom family expanded in 1976 when Harriet married Richard Wilson and in 1984 when Edward married Eileen McInerney. Fay and Al embraced both Richard and Eileen, as well as the Irish Catholic families they brought with them. In 1988, the most devastating event of Fay’s life occurred with the untimely death of her 37-year-old son due to medical malpractice.
Although one can never recover from the loss of a child, Fay and Al persevered and continued to take pleasure visiting and traveling with Harriet and Richard, throughout the U.S. and Europe, especially after the births of their two beloved granddaughters, Joanna in 1980 and Katie in 1985. To celebrate Fay and Al’s 50th wedding anniversary, they all went to England, Scotland, and Wales for two weeks.
Both Fay and Al were lifelong learners participating over the course of many summers in Elderhostels. Even after Al’s death in 1997, Fay would spend extended periods in Powell attending concerts, lectures, cultural events and, most memorably, Doug Nelson’s classes on the Middle East. She always gave generously to her family, which included the gift of sharing her 90th birthday on a houseboat on the Seine River in Paris!
Fay’s life took her from urban New York with her husband, to the beaches of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida with her sisters, and finally to the small town of Cody, Wyoming to be closer to Harriet and Richard. At the age of 100, she thought she would be too old to adapt to her new surroundings. However, the wonderful friends in Powell and Cody that she had already made over the years and the new community who warmly welcomed her at Brookdale Assisted Living in Cody convinced her that she was, indeed, home again.
Fay is survived by her daughter, Harriet, son-in-law, Richard, granddaughters, Joanna and Katie, grandson-in-law, Peter, cherished great-granddaughter, Estlin, daughter-in-law, Eileen, and nieces and nephews in Florida, California, and Washington, who all loved her like a second mother. She was preceded in death by her beloved niece, son, husband, and sisters. Her family filled her heart with pride and she eagerly shared stories and photos, newspaper articles, and anecdotes to all who would listen. And because she was a great storyteller, she usually didn’t have trouble finding an audience!
Please honor this extraordinary woman’s memory by living life to the fullest, as she did. Travel, read, ask questions, step outside of your comfort zone, tell jokes and laugh. Make memories with family and friends.
For those who wish to make a donation in her name, the family suggests support for the expanding activities of the Intercultural House at Northwest College (c/o NWC Foundation, 231 W. Sixth St., Powell, WY 82435) or to Spirit Mountain Hospice House (707 Sheridan Ave., Cody, WY 82414) for their beneficial and valued service to our communities.