An Orlando native and life-long resident, Sheldon Wittenstein was born in 1928 to Dora Zonn Wittenstein, a Russian immigrant and to Sol Wittenstein, son of Vul Bear Wittenstein, an Orthodox Rabbi. Sheldon became a Bar Mitzvah at Congregation Ohev Shalom, Orlando’s first conservative synagogue, in 1941. He was in the Orlando High School graduation class of 1946 and in the marching band. He went on to serve his country in Korea as a commissary manager during the Korean War and played trombone in the infantry band. After returning to the States, he studied business and insurance at the University of Florida, and was part of Greek life as a Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity brother. College days behind him, he began an insurance career at the family’s business, Orlando Insurance Agency. With his first wife, Patsy Printz, he started Shel-Pat Miniatures, a small retail boutique in College Park. He also worked for 22 years at Mears Transportation.
After Patsy died in 1994, Sheldon was re-introduced to Jo Ellen Jarman, a family friend, also widowed. In 1996, the two married on Valentine’s Day.
Sheldon was community minded and a long-time volunteer. He was a life member (61 years) of the Elks Club lodge #1079, the founder of the Central Florida chapter of the Classic Car Club of America and a member of the Antique Automobile Club of America. He frequently judged contests for both organizations. He also completed the mitzvah (good deed) of building a synagogue, helping Congregation Ohev Shalom build its second building on Goddard Street. As a notary, Sheldon officiated at the marriage of Diana Noble Thorp and Zane Kalter. He was also a member of the Orlando Old-Timers Club.
Sheldon died at 83 of kidney failure and its complications peacefully at home (under the care of Hospice of the Comforter) on May 5, 2012. He is survived by his two children, Michael Wittenstein (Atlanta, GA) and Cathy Gucker (Ketchikan, AK), four grandchildren (Isaac, Hannah, Sarah and Gabe), his sister Norma Rifkin (Woodbridge, CT), and his wife, Jo Ellen Jarman and her 6 children, 16 grandchildren, and a growing number of great grandchildren (who all loved Sheldon as their own). In lieu of flowers, contributions to Congregation Ohev Shalom (Orlando), the American Diabetes Association, or the American Cancer Society are suggested.
Sunday, May 6, 2012
Ohev Shalom Cemetery
6034 Old Winter Garden Road
Orlando, FL 32835