Obituary: Shirley Abrams

Loving wife and mother, education advocate

Shirley Abrams, a longtime Pomona resident and active member of Temple Beth Israel, died in Pomona on January 1, 2017. She was 82.

She was born on February 28, 1934 in Twin Falls, Idaho and lived there until she was 10 years old. Three years after the tragic death of her father—who was hit by a car while acting as a good Samaritan—Shirley and her family moved to Los Angeles. 

After graduating from Los Angeles High School, she studied education at UCLA and received her bachelor’s degree in 1956. She met her future husband, Marvin Abrams, before her senior year of college and they got married soon after she graduated. She was a primary school teacher in Pullman, Washington while Mr. Abrams completed his PhD from Washington State. After he graduated, he took a job at General Dynamics in Pomona and she raised her two children at the family home in Pomona.  

Mrs. Abrams stayed at home to raise her children, and continued her passionate support of education by acting as PTA president and volunteering in leadership positions in the community with the United Way, Heart Association, the Jewish Federation and the County Education Coordinating Council. She received numerous “Leader of the Year” awards from these organizations. 

Around 1982, her volunteer efforts became so valuable to the Los Angeles County Department of Education that they created a full-time position for her at the main office in Downey. She led vital programs on the education of the homeless and on addressing truancy in the schools until her retirement in 2011. 

Mrs. Abrams continued her community activities as a longtime board member of the Jewish Federations of Los Angeles and the Eastern Region of Southern California and the Jewish Family Service and by serving on the prestigious JENNY Commission, reviewing the qualifications of appointed judges in the state. She was twice invited to the White House to participate in the White House Conference on Children and Youth, both in 1972 and again in 2002. 

Even with all of her activities, family and friends always came first to Shirley. She regularly met with groups of friends, and prided herself on being present at important occasions in the lives of her loved ones. After her daughter Gale moved to Upland when her daughters were young, she maintained a regular presence and was a source of inspiration for Gale and her children.   

She is survived by her children, Gale Frankel (Ron) and Hal Abrams (Jennifer Lowery), and grandchildren Rhonda Picon (Adrian), Dana Edwards, Cynthia Abrams, Lilah Abrams and Isaac Abrams. Her husband of 59 years, Marvin, died in 2014

Shirley and Marvin were longtime leaders and members of Temple Beth Israel in Pomona. The family asks that any gifts made in their honor be directed to the temple or an organization of the donor’s choice that supports education. 

A memorial service will be held on Friday, January 6 at 2 p.m. at Mt. Sinai Mortuary in Los Angeles.   


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