Their young daughter Ada, born in 1930, suffered from asthma and Leo and Bessie felt that the warm weather of Los Angeles would be better for her. They left the security of their family in Vancouver and moved south.
Leo and Bessie established a grocery and liquor business in the very rough neighbourhood of Watts, in Los Angeles. They worked long and dangerous hours, but Leo and Bessie led a good life. Leo loved to cook and have friends and relatives over, who often drove from Vancouver to stay with them.
Leo and Bessie also had two sons. Harold was born in 1933, and became a dentist. Jerry born in 1939, and first became a doctor, then a lawyer. Upon his retirement and his wife’s death, Leo moved from Beverly Hills to a retirement village in Camarillo. Always maintaining his Shriner affiliation, he continued to march with them in their annual parade.
He was a member of B’nai Brith and a supporter of the American Cancer Society.
With great dignity, he coped with the tragic illness that would take his life. He refused treatment, wanting to remember the quality of life he had previously enjoyed.
He maintained his sense of humour to the end. In his last moments, his granddaughter Patrice asked him if he would consider reciting the “Shema,” a prayer often said before one’s passing. Leo managed to laugh as only Leo would and said, “Leave me alone … where I’m going they don’t say prayers, they play kaluki!”
That was Leo Nemetz!
Leo was a kind and generous man, adored by his grandchildren and great-grandchildren, who always came first with him.
There are six grandchildren, Jo Ann (Johnson), Patrice (Perl), Larry, Steven, David and Michelle, four great-grandchildren and a great-great granddaughter, living in California.
Both Leo and his wife Bessie are interred at Hillside Memorial Park, Los Angeles, California.
Thank you to the Jewish Museum and Archives of British Columbia for the use of their archival material and support.
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