Dorrit K. Westheimer, Rouse Co. Secretary

December 06, 2009|By Frederick N. Rasmussen

Dorrit K. Westheimer, a former Rouse Co. secretary and avid bridge player who escaped from Czechoslovakia with her family after Germany invaded in 1938, died Nov. 29 of lung cancer at her Pikesville home. She was 73.

Dorrit Feuerstein, the daughter of a Jewish lawyer and a homemaker, was born in what was then Czechoslovakia.

After Germany invaded, Mrs. Westheimer's family was successful the next year in obtaining the necessary exit visas from the Gestapo.

Mrs. Westheimer's chilling mementos from those tumultuous days include the original papers stamped with the designation "Juden," family members said.

Their journey took them to Italy, France and eventually to England, where they landed in 1940.

They decided not to stay in England and settled in Philadelphia in 1946.

After graduating from Friends Select School in Philadelphia, Mrs. Westheimer earned a bachelor's degree from Temple University in 1956.

After her 1956 marriage to Ezra Kohn, who held various jobs in the White House, including speechwriter, they moved to Silver Spring.

In 1971, the couple moved to Columbia, and after her husband's death in 1976, Mrs. Westheimer worked for the next decade as a secretary at the Rouse Co.

In 1986, she married Julius M. Westheimer, a widower, and the couple settled in Pikesville. Mr. Westheimer, a highly regarded Baltimore investment banker, financial columnist, and radio and television personality, died in 2005.

Mrs. Westheimer enjoyed playing several bridge games every week, and when she couldn't find a game, she played online.

She enjoyed taking classes at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute and reading.

Mrs. Westheimer also enjoyed taking her grandchildren to visit her former homeland, and this past summer, despite suffering from lung cancer, she took her two 18-year-old grandsons there.

She was a member of Beit Aviv Congregation in Columbia and was a former member of the Suburban Club.

Graveside services were held Monday at Liberty Park of Shaarei Zion Cemetery.

Surviving are a son, Jonathan Kohn of Osaka, Japan; two daughters, Rachel Bloom of Baltimore and Eva Kohn of West Hartford, Conn.; two stepdaughters, Patricia Westheimer of Lisbon, Portugal, and Gloria West of Columbia; and five grandchildren.

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