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Bertha Gertrude Samson Shanblum

Obituary for Bertha Gertrude Samson Shanblum

October 2, 1919 - July 5, 2017
Austin, Texas | Age 97


Bertha Shanblum, 97, of Austin, TX, died Wednesday, July 5, 2017, at home, from complications of congestive heart failure.

Bertha was born October 2, 1919, in Weatherford, TX, to Clementine and Herman Samson. The middle child and only daughter, she grew up with her brothers, David and Leonard, in Fort Worth.

Bertha graduated Paschal High School at the top of her class. However, because her family could not afford to send her to college in the Depression era, Bertha instead worked for a lawyer, where she honed her stellar secretarial skills. During World War II, she volunteered by making bandages, and, as she always said, did her part by dancing with the soldiers at Camp Wolters in Mineral Wells.

Bertha knew Sam, her future husband, from high school days in Fort Worth, and they corresponded during the war years. He courted and then married Bertha in 1947, having moved to Austin in 1946 to go into a restaurant supply business with a partner. Two daughters, Lynda and Laurie, followed as the couple established their home in Austin for the next 70 years.

Bertha was the consummate homemaker, always available for her daughters' school and social activities, and faithfully there to greet Sam with dinner when he arrived home from work. Their home was always open to their daughters' friends, who enjoyed their hospitality and Bertha's cooking.

Their next-door neighbor on Placid Place was a University of Texas psychology professor, Dr. Ira Iscoe. By 1960, with both daughters in school, Bertha went to work for Dr. Iscoe as his capable administrative assistant, a position she held for 25 years before retiring in 1985. The job allowed her to be home by 3pm, when her daughters came home from school.

Bertha wore many hats during her work for Dr. Iscoe, at his side as he moved from the psychology department to Plan II, then to the Institute of Human Development and Family Studies, which he founded, along with the 24-hour Counseling Center following the tragic Whitman shootings in 1966. Bertha was more than an assistant, she was also a reliable shoulder and sounding board for the many students who came to her for advice and counseling, and was beloved by all.

Bertha and Sam both retired in 1985 and moved to Northwest Hills, where she continued an active life, volunteering in the Congregation Beth Israel office, mentoring at elementary schools, playing mahjongg, bridge, lunching with her friends, while always supporting her husband and daughters. She and Sam traveled extensively, enjoying such locales as Israel, Alaska, Italy and the Netherlands.

Bertha was active in the Jewish community for many years. She was recognized by Congregation Beth Israel as Member of the Year in 1994 for her many contributions, including teaching religious school, serving as a Congregation officer and board member, and as an avid member of Sisterhood. The Officers, Trustees and Members of Beth Israel said of her: 'She always brought to her efforts that sense of commitment and professional dignity that comes to our minds whenever we think of her." Bertha was a fixture at Friday evening services, deeply committed to her faith and cherishing her many lifelong friendships.

Bertha was a true lady. Always well-dressed, with her hair carefully coifed, she was unfailingly kind, generous, gracious, and always welcoming new members of the Congregation or in her neighborhood, and her daughters' friends. She invited cousins and family friends for holiday dinners and was a dear friend to many, keeping in touch with phone calls, letters (on her faithful electric typewriter), and even emails. Above all, her large, extended family network was especially important, and she cherished all of them.

Bertha was an incredible cook, preparing homemade dinners for Sam almost every night of the week until his death in March, 2017, and even afterward, fixing her famous stuffed peppers, meat loaf, and cabbage rolls for her grateful daughters.

Bertha was predeceased by her parents, Clementine & Herman, her brothers David Samson and Leonard Samson, and the love of her life and partner of almost 70 years, Sam Shanblum. She is survived by daughters Lynda Shanblum and Laurie Shanblum, nieces Susan Saxe and Cynthia Seltzer (St. Louis, MO), nephew Douglas Samson (Los Angeles, CA), dear childhood friend Ruthie Nierman (Shreveport, LA), cousins Charles & Joan Samson (Irvine, CA) and Idarene Glick (Dallas, TX), her beloved "grand-dog," Shala, and many other relatives and friends. Special thanks to family helper, Becky Flores, and the caregivers Melanie, Lynn, Jody, Lynda and Martha.

Funeral services will be held in the sanctuary of Congregation Beth Israel, 3901 Shoal Creek Blvd., Sunday, July 9, at 1:00pm, followed by interment at Cook Walden Capital Parks Cemetery, 14501 I-35, Pflugerville, TX. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Congregation Beth Israel, Meals on Wheels and More, Austin Humane Society, or the charity of your choice.

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Suggested Memorial Donations

  • In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Congregation Beth Israel, Meals on Wheels and More, Austin Humane Society, or the charity of your choice.

Arrangements By

Weed-Corley-Fish Funeral Home North

3125 N Lamar Blvd.
Austin, TX 78705
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