December 2001

This has been a year of challenges and tragedies, but the saying holds true, that what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger.  Going by the number of flags on display, the show of sympathy and support flowing in from all parts of the country and the world, and now with the holiday decorations illuminating the streets in red white and blue, it seems we’re not alone in that sentiment.

For us tragedy first struck in February, our brother-in-law, Burt Levin, died suddenly of a heart attack.  Hanna has been doing a lot of traveling to cope with her loss, and in January she’ll be moving into a new condo.  The view from her current residence is outstanding, yet this transition phase of her life will be accompanied by an even more impressive view of Manhattan from her future apartment.

Burt was able to see the Twin Towers from his breakfast table.  Their absence would surely have been difficult for him to accept.  Of our community of 14,000 souls here in Manhasset, 40 lost their lives on September 11th.  Even though we live approximately 18 miles away from “Ground Zero”, we could still see the smoke rising into the sky for almost a week.  Three months later, we look at New York differently.  We look at our lives differently as well, reflecting now more than ever, on the things that are really important.  Sometimes it takes a tragedy for us to appreciate how lucky we are on many different levels.

Earlier this year our company was involved in an ugly legal battle over product liability, which consumed massive amounts of time, money and energy for months at a time.  Yet business has so greatly improved over the last couple of months that we’ve been recovering from the damage done.  The latest information about the company can be accessed through our website:

On another positive note, the Year 2001 was a year of milestones – always a reason to celebrate!  Brigitte’s 60th birthday in January, was enjoyed on a large cruise ship.  Inspirational vistas and quiet places to reflect abounded, and Jerry took full advantage of them to begin writing his memoirs.  Two months later, we went to Germany to attend Jerry’s 50-year high school reunion.

Our daughters’ situations paralleled ours; Susan entered her 3rd decade on her birthday in June, and in the fall, Tanya attended her 10-year high school reunion.

In October we visited Berlin and the German National Garden Show in Potsdam.  Following that, Brigitte went on to Bavaria for the wonderful celebration of her cousin Walburga and Michael’s 50th wedding anniversary.

Susan has been working diligently to establish herself as an artist in Central Coast California, with weekly festivals and solo shows filling her calendar.  She has been incorporating the cacti and succulents she propagates into the ceramic pieces and installations she creates at a local college, where she also teaches ceramics.

In August, Tanya and her husband Oliver moved from California back to Long Island.  For the first time they traveled across the country via train.  It was a comfortable and beautiful 3-day trip with only one transfer.  Until recently it seemed as if they had brought the beautiful California weather with them.  The mild, dry weather combined with a magnificently colorful and extended fall season, made their transition to being back in New York a very enjoyable one.

Peter, who is still attending Humboldt University in Northern California, has been training to participate in triathlon competitions (races combining swimming, biking, & running) in the spring.  As a part of his training, he entered to run the Redwood Marathon in late October.  He surprised everyone including himself by winning it, with the next competitor coming in 16 minutes behind him!  Before the race Peter’s brother in law, Oliver, vowed to address him “Your Highness” for the rest of his life if he could beat his target time of 2 hours, 30 minutes. Peter’s time: 2:27

Susan and Peter are coming home for the holidays.  We are looking forward to celebrating Christmas together.

We hope that this letter finds you in good health and great spirits.