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In Memoriam: Ernest R. Stiefel, 19212010

Ernie StiefelErnest R. Stiefel (ΦBK University of Washington, 1949) joined the board of the Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa in 1965, and remained a member for over 40 years. During that time, he served as treasurer and assistant treasurer. He had a strong commitment to our mission of supporting liberal-arts education at the University of Washington and the University of Puget Sound. Our Ernest R. Stiefel Graduate Study Awards were named in his honor. We were saddened to hear of his death.

The following obituary was provided by his family.


Ernest R. Stiefel passed away peacefully on October 18, 2010, surrounded by his family. He was born on June 17, 1921 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. He considered it a miracle that he was able to escape Germany in July 1940 by way of Russia, Manchuria, Korea, and Japan, arriving in Seattle with the first group to take the eastern route on August 3, 1940. Penniless, he was greeted and assisted by the Seattle Jewish community, a debt he spent his life repaying through community service. [Note from PSA-PBK: In 2000, Ernie wrote "A Memorable Journey" for the Washington State Jewish Historical Society, detailing his trip of many thousands of miles.]

Ernie Stiefel

He served in the United States Army Air Corps from 1943 to 1946, returning to Europe during the war as an intelligence officer. He returned to Seattle and graduated in 1949 from the University of Washington with a degree in business administration and as a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He passed the CPA examination in May 1949 with the highest score in the state and then practiced public accounting until his retirement in 1986. A highly intelligent and passionate accountant and business advisor, he had a strong and loyal client following.

He devoted himself as a leader in the Jewish and greater Seattle community. He was a founder of Congregation Beth Shalom and Congregation Ner Tamid. He served as president of Congregation Beth Shalom, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, Hillel at the University of Washington, and the Jewish Education Council; as treasurer of the Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa; and on the boards of numerous other organizations, including United Way of King County, the Washington State Jewish Historical Society, and Music of Remembrance. He was the financial conscience of many organizations.

Ernie Stiefel

He was passionate about Jewish education and Jewish continuity. He was gifted with an exceptional memory for detail, and enjoyed researching family genealogy and German Jewish history. He was devoted to his loving family.

Ernie is survived by his loving wife of nearly 60 years, Doris J. Stiefel, and his children, David (Joy), Mark (Sheryl), Sharon (Davida Alperin), and his grandchildren, Elana, Jason, Miriam, Nathan, Michael, and Emi. He was a role model to all of them and his presence will be sorely missed.

Funeral services were held on Wednesday, October 20, 2010, at Congregation Beth Shalom.

Ernie's wishes were that donations be sent to:

Ernest R. Stiefel Graduate Study Award Scholarship Fund
c/o Puget Sound Association of Phi Beta Kappa
P.O. Box 15258
Seattle, WA 98115

Congregation Beth Shalom
6800 35th Avenue N.E.
Seattle, WA 98115

or

Washington State Jewish Historical Society
2031 3rd Avenue
Seattle, WA 98121

The family expresses its appreciation to Alex Sytman, M.D. for providing 15 years of compassionate medical care.

May his memory be for a blessing.

   




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