As the weather warms, stay-at-home orders lift and businesses cautiously begin to reopen, it may appear that the worst of the coronavirus crisis is behind us.
Many states have managed to “flatten the curve,” and Pennsylvania’s case count averages are steadily declining.
However, with no treatment or vaccine available, the pandemic is not over yet. New cases continue to appear and people continue to lose their lives to the disease. Many states that have loosened social distancing requirements are seeing spikes now.
As of press time, more than 430,000 people worldwide have died due to COVID-19. In the U.S., 115,644 people have died, and in Pennsylvania the figure stands at 6,243.
In our five-county region — Philadelphia, Montgomery, Chester, Delaware and Bucks — the death toll stands at 3,742.
Because these people deserve to be remembered as more than statistics, this is another installment honoring those we’ve lost to COVID-19.
Eileen Chanin died on April 23 at age 74 due to complications of COVID-19.
She was married to her husband, Bernard Chanin, for 34 years.
“She was very beautiful, had a heart of gold, everyone loved her,” he said. “She had a helping hand and a helping heart for everyone who crossed her path, that was just her nature.”
Eileen graduated from Brooklyn College and cultivated a passion for the piano.
“She was a very gifted pianist, despite the fact that she had an injury to one hand. She taught herself to play the piano one-handed. She played often for people — she was a very musical person,” Bernard said.
She was also adventurous and loved to travel.
“She went to Morocco, traveled in a van with a year-old baby,” he recalled.
The couple lived in Key West, Florida, before moving to Philadelphia. Eileen lived at The Watermark at Logan Square due to health problems, and Bernard lived 15 minutes away on Cherry Street. He would meet her there frequently to have dinner and spend time together.
“Not having the comfort of knowing that she’s within a 15-minute walk has taken a lot of joy out of life,” Bernard said.
The Watermark stopped allowing visitors into the building when the pandemic broke out in March. Bernard recalled their final visit.
“We went to a sunny place and we talked and I said to her, ‘That was one of the most beautiful moments that I can recall that we had,’” he said. “That was the last time I saw her.”
Libbie was not allowed to see visitors in her final days due to the pandemic, and her loved ones had to say goodbye over video chat.
“For someone who really loved people, to be so alone was really a wrenching experience,” said her daughter, Sheila Greenbaum.
Libbie will be remembered as a generous spirit who valued family and loved to entertain.
“I’m a lawyer and I’ve done a lot of civil rights and civil liberties work, but at the end of the day it’s my mother who will have had a greater influence in the world. She really was concentrated on individuals, she was very loving and giving,” Sheila said.
Libbie Rubin Greenbaum was born in Cocoa Beach and grew up in Fort Pierce, Florida, where her family owned a department store. She attended the University of Alabama and moved to Philadelphia after marrying her husband, Albert Greenbaum. The couple raised two children, Sheila and Stanley.
Libbie enjoyed swimming, tennis and bridge, and she was active in the Sisterhood of Main Line Reform Temple and Hadassah. She moved into The Quadrangle in Haverford with her husband in 2015.
“Everyone at The Quadrangle, including people who worked there, thought she was sweet. She never became a grumpy old lady; she really maintained her sweetness,” her daughter said.
“The last big family event was a wedding in Houston, and everyone was so genuinely thrilled to see her. Her passing had a much more profound effect on my cousins than I would have expected,” Sheila said.
Many people have sent tributes in memory of her mother.
“That makes me feel really good. She had this kind of wonderful web of people who appreciated her,” she said.
Sylvia Millrood died of COVID-19 on April 23. She was 82.
The Philadelphia native was the first president of the Sisterhood of Congregation Or Shalom, which she founded with her husband, Bernard Millrood, in 1974.
They started holding meetings and services in their home before moving to the basement of the Wayne Presbyterian Church and the Wayne Hotel before they bought the synagogue’s current location in Berwyn.
“Hundreds and hundreds of families later, it’s a beautiful congregation that I think all of my family, all my siblings, are really proud of,” said her son, Tobi Millrood.
He remembers his mother visiting his school to teach his classmates about Chanukah with coloring books, plastic dreidls and an electric skillet for making latkes.
Sylvia was a talented artist who loved painting, needlepoint and sculpture. Her passion was sewing; she created her own line of dresses called Fashion for You by Sylvia.
“What she did with Judaica was incredible. For each one of us she handmade and sewed an incredibly ornate tallis bag that was in some way connected with our Hebrew names,” Tobi said. She also made an ornate chuppah for his wedding.
“My wife and I got engaged at the planetarium at the Franklin Institute, so she made this chuppah where she sewed in this beautiful constellation of sun and moon and stars,” he said.
She continued to paint and sculpt when she moved into The Quadrangle.
After she died, her seven children and 16 grandchildren compiled her artwork into a 130-slide Google Drive presentation titled “Grandma Sylvia’s Museum.”
“I took out the chuppah from the wedding just so I could look at it a little longer,” Tobi said, “just so we could see the beauty she brought to us all.”
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