Jean Goldstein, 79, anti-war and women's rights activist


Jean T. Goldstein, a retired travel agent and activist who had participated in the civil rights, anti-war and women's movements, died of ovarian cancer Wednesday at her Pikesville home. She was 79.

She was born Jean Turk in Baltimore and raised in Forest Park, where she graduated from Forest Park High School in 1943.

A child prodigy who began playing the piano when she was 4, she studied at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and at the Johns Hopkins University's McCoy College.

During the 1970s, Mrs. Goldstein was the executive director of the Baltimore office of the American Jewish Congress, and until retiring in 1998, was a travel agent for 20 years with Commerce Travel Inc.

Mrs. Goldstein's social conscience and activism began early in life and was stimulated by her parents, who were socialists.

Her father, Henry Turk, was managing editor of the Baltimore edition of the Jewish Daily Forward, and during the 1960s, Mrs. Goldstein was the newspaper's subscription manager.

"They were old-line socialists who saw great changes such as Social Security and other social programs that had been enacted by Franklin D. Roosevelt. Her father hated Sen. Joseph McCarthy with a passion and he had to put up with FBI agents always coming to his office," said her husband of 60 years, Sol Goldstein, a Baltimore insurance executive and former president of the Baltimore Jewish Council.

"She remembered coming home and seeing Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas and Sen. Hubert H. Humphrey having dinner with her parents and then fighting over who was going to dry the dishes. This was the environment she grew up in," her husband said.

Mrs. Goldstein had participated in the 1963 March on Washington, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. presented his famous "I have a dream" speech. That fall, she returned to Washington, this time to mourn the death of President John F. Kennedy.

"We personally joined Jean and her family and waited eight hours to get into the Capitol rotunda so we could walk by the president's coffin," said Malcolm Sherman, yesterday, a longtime friend, activist, and retired Rouse Co. executive. "She wanted our children to go through the experience so it would become part of their lives and memories."

A staunch foe of the Vietnam War, Mrs. Goldstein participated in many marches and rallies, family members said.

A lifelong supporter of Israel, she took up in the 1970s and 1980s the cause of Jewish refuseniks, whose efforts to immigrate to Israel and the U.S. were frustrated by the Soviet Union.

"She worked right alongside of me on this issue and traveled with me on many trips to Russia. She never said don't do it," Mr. Goldstein said.

"We worked with others trying to get Anatoly Sharansky out, and she was in Tel Aviv when she heard that he was on a plane bound for Israel. So she went out to the airport and was part of the crowd that welcomed him. Later on, his wife, Natalya, stayed at our home in Baltimore," he said.

"Jean was a woman of valor and always ready for whatever cause would lead to world peace and equality. She had a love for all people and had a way to lift them up and see them in a positive way," Mr. Sherman said.

Diagnosed with ovarian cancer nearly nine years ago, Mrs. Goldstein was the subject of a video at Mercy Medical Center that helped women cope with the disease.

"It's a disease that causes much anguish and grief, and with the video, Jean was able to help walk with them through the long battle they faced," Mr. Sherman said.

"She would go to the hospital and give wigs to women who had lost their hair from chemotherapy. She'd say, `Hi, I'm Jean, and I have stage four ovarian cancer,' so they would understand that they were not alone. She was never a `me' person and was always interested in others," her husband said.

Even as Mrs. Goldstein was using a walker, and later a wheelchair, she continued to travel with her husband and to enjoy gatherings with family and friends.

She enjoyed playing bridge and the piano.

Mrs. Goldstein, who loved classical music and singing Broadway show music, had an "impeccable memory when it came to recalling the names of show tunes," her husband said.

Mrs. Goldstein was a member of the Baltimore Hebrew Congregation.

Services were Friday.

Also surviving are three sons, Mark D. Goldstein of New York City, Robert T. Goldstein of Baltimore and Donald B. Goldstein of Dallas; a sister, Rose Feldman of St. Petersburg, Fla.; five grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

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