A native and long-time resident of Paterson, NJ, Sylvia (Zelda) Slatkin Kobre, born April 8, 1917, passed away February 15, 2013, in Las Vegas, NV, where she resided since 2005. Sylvia, also known as Grandma or Aunt Zel, graduated from Paterson’s Central High School in 1933 and Trenton State Teachers College in 1937; she married Irving J. Kobre in September 1940. A high-school business teacher for six years, she left teaching to run their fabric store when Irv was drafted into the army to serve in World War II. Irv, wounded at Anzio, returned from the war, but Sylvia never went back to teaching. Together they owned and operated Kobre Fabrics in Paterson and Fair Lawn until 1980 and then downsized to Kobre’s Button Box in Fair Lawn, which Sylvia continued to run after Irv’s death in 1982. She retired from full-time operation of that store on September 30, 2005, at the age of 88.
Sylvia was always very proud of her Jewish heritage, of her heroic husband Irving, of being both a college graduate and a teacher, of the business she ran with Irv for so many years, of her daughters Beverly Berger and Marsha Anderson, and of her grandchildren Brian and Emily Anderson. She loved saying, too, that she could read both Hebrew and English. In fact, she especially enjoyed mysteries in recent years. An excellent grammarian, she was particularly impatient with incorrect English grammar and mechanics. She supported Hillary Clinton for president and even met her while she campaigned in 2008 in Las Vegas.
For Sylvia’s 95th birthday in 2012, friends, relatives, and notable people were asked to send cards and notes, which she hugely enjoyed. The goal was 95 cards for her 95th birthday, and the number was far exceeded. Included among her many well-wishers were former students from her early teaching career at Eastside High School in Paterson, many relatives and friends, and even the former Governor of New Jersey, Jim McGreevey; Nevada’s Senator Harry Reid; Assemblywoman Shelly Berkley; novelist Mary Higgins Clark, who sent a signed novel; and the current president of The College of New Jersey, R. Barbara Gitenstein, who even sent a signed book about the College. Sylvia was a 1937 graduate of The College of New Jersey and especially enjoyed the fact that its president is not only a woman, but also a scholar in Jewish literature. Sylvia loved that birthday, for sure!
Sylvia was preceded in death by her husband, parents Harry Slatkin and Rose Greenberg Slatkin, sisters Ruth Pliskin and Helen Sinofsky, and brother Sidney Slatkin. She is survived by her daughters Dr. Beverly (Richard) Berger of Livermore, CA, and Dr. Marsha Kobre Anderson of Las Vegas, grandson Brian Anderson of Las Vegas, granddaughter Emily Anderson of Ventura, CA, and several nieces and nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews, and great-grandnieces and great-grandnephews.
—Mary Elizabeth O’Connor MEd ’77