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Remembering Mordy


(March 2, 1912 - May 16, 2007)


Condolence Messages

Dear Friends,

Yesterday morning our dear, wonderful Mordy passed away. He was 95 years old. Some of you I have known from the early seventies at Indian Hill. All of you I feel a special bond with. We shared the wonderful gift of Indian Hill. I was a student there in ’71 & 72. Since Mordy and Irma were then older than I am now, many years passed for me without knowledge of them. And then oddly enough, through Mike Krawitz when my dear friend IH teacher Josie Abady was ill and prematurely passed, Mike renewed my acquaintance with these two amazing friends and mentors.

Over the past few years I have once again come to know these extraordinary people. I know for many of us Indian Hill was the first place we found a sense of belonging. This was where a group of perhaps otherwise odd, precocious and gifted outsiders found our own kind of normal. I remember so well Mordy singing Eisler in the Ives room, Irma keeping us in line, Choir practice with Jerry Rosen, working with Josie and Mary Van Dyke on plays seemingly way beyond our tender years. [What were we thinking; Lorca and Antigone, but we inhabited those roles as only a yearning teenager in love with the muses can.] There was Jimmy Waring and the Gertrude Stein dances, and his wonderful Zen fairy tales, Danny Morgenstern sharing Ive’s Three Places In New England, and singing en masse at Tangelwood, and for me the unbelievable moment when I was selected to sing the Domine Deus, Agnus Dei solo in Vivaldi’s Gloria. To this day I recall the horror expressed by fellow student Tony Rudel that a girl who heretofore had simply belted Show tunes and was a poor pretender to Joni Mitchell was now singing Vivaldi. But at Indian Hill the jeweler’s kid from Jersey could sing alongside the children of world renowned musicians, and hold her own..

These are but a few of the memories, and there are so many more. I am typing and crying, because for me what Mordy dreamed, built and shared infused my young dreams with a solid sense that anything could happen, and so much has. Here was where my imagination found form and confidence. I came expecting magic, and I was not disappointed.

To have had the opportunity as an adult to come to know Mordy and Irma as a contemporaries and confidants and to do so long past the naiveté of youth has been to find the heart of childhood once again and revel in the dreams and promise of that special time. I will forever cherish that experience.

A few weeks ago Irma wrote me a brief e-mail. She said Mordy is failing. He has had a stroke. His speech is failing. I don’t know how I will cope.

This afternoon her daughter Elizabeth shared with me that they had been together for sixty six years. For all the gifts they gave to us, their greatest gift was how well and how long they have loved each other. My heart is sad for the loss of this most talented giant of a man. And for Irma, my heart aches with the loss she has suffered. She has been a giving friend.

Elizabeth tells me there will be no funeral at Mordy’s request. She also shared that Irma is not yet up to many phone calls to let friends know, and so I am sharing this news on behalf of Irma. And if some friend then shares this note with her, I am confident she will still correct my spelling and my grammar. To that I will always say, you go girl. I love you.

I have written you all by finding your addresses on the new IH website.

And do let other IH’ers know so that we can pass along our love and support to Irma and their family.

Respectfully and with love,
Jeryll Adler
IH ’71 & ‘72

No one has had such a positive impact on my life than Mordecai Bauman. When I arrived at Indian Hill during the summer of 1957 from the segregated South I was very apprehensive about a future in art. My track record of winning numerous art competitions would not help me get through doors of opportunity in the field of art - because I was black. Therefore, I had little or no self confidence.

Mordy recognized my depression, sat with me privately, and allowed me to tell him the sources of my depression. I told him about the award reception given at the Delgado Museum after I won first place in the France-Amerique five-state art competition. How the Second Place white winner was photographed, wined and dined in the main reception hall - while my family and I were served food and beverages on a janitor's cart in a storage room - after shocking the audience with the color of my skin. There, in private, in that Victorian drawing room, Mordecai Bauman spoke to me, not as a schoolmaster or teacher, but as a father. Through wet eyes, he voiced words of encouragement and assured me that, if I plowed ahead and gave art my best shot, I would succeed no matter what the odds were. He said my journey to success would start at Indian Hill - because a lot of people I didn't know had enough confidence to send me to him. Mordy did not lie. I will always remember the father in that great schoolmaster. After completing a 24-year military career, I've spent the last 17 years as a visual arts teacher for the Atlanta Public School system - passing on the inspiring confidence received from Mordy to my young students. Of all the blessings bestowed on me by my Creator, my experience with Mordecai Bauman was a great one. I miss you, Mordy. We will see each other again in a life far better than this one.

Joseph N. Davis, Jr.
IH '57

Dear IH'er friends,

During the 25 years that Indian Hill existed, Irma and Mordy gave us the opportunity to explore our creative selves. This is a gift that I treasure and one that shifted my whole sense of self. It's not easy to express one's feelings. Too often we feel foolish or just plain scared to paint, to dance, to act, to give voice through an instrument or in song. Mordy gave us a chance to experiment and to grow. He took his own creative energy and gave it to all of us who knew him. I was blessed to have him as a friend and I wish to send my deepest sympathy and love to Irma.

Jane Amler Lewis

I was in the very first summer program at Indian Hill, perhaps one of 30 or so, who had an experience I still haven't forgotten and probably never will, although you can figure out how many years ago that was.

We were a precocious bunch (read, willful) not easy to reason with, but Mordy never lost his cool and managed to get us through without any tragedies. We were in very heady company (I was in love with Seymour Lipkin although he wasn't aware of it, thank god) Tanglewood was for us alone, the setting was one of great beauty, and the friends I made I still remember vividly.

In later years, I often wondered how Mordy and Irma had the courage to go on, but they did, and for many years thereafter, growing in number and adding more and more to make things special for lots of kids.

Irma was sometimes irascible (is there any wonder?) but Mordy was calm, never losing his sense of humor or his dedication to the idea of a special place for talented children.

Morey Ritt and I recently had a delightful visit with Mordy and Irma, which I especially cherish given this sad news. I can't think of any other people who so influenced and made a difference in my life and who I still think about all these years later, so thank you Mordy, and thank you Irma. I will never forget you.

Harriet Josephs
IH ’52-‘53


If you would like to add your thoughts about Mordy, please e-mail me with your text at via e-mail to

If you wish to send a card to Irma, her address is 49 West 12th Street, New York, NY 10011.


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