The Lelewer Legacy
Review by Kay Brigham, June 10, 2010
The reader of this enjoyable and encouraging book by Nancy Lelewer will discover a legacy not only for the benefit of the author’s children and grandchildren but for everyone. The stunning book cover shows in the background three images of Lelewer ancestors–great grandfather, grandfather, and father–cast in dark to light shades of sepia; and in the foreground the radiant image of the author herself in full color.
Nancy Lelewer’s extraordinarily adventurous life is enough to capture the reader’s interest, but takes on significance in the context of her upbringing in a loving and supportive family. The family story begins with Nancy’s great grandfather Lelewer who immigrated from Germany to New York in 1861 and eventually settled in Chicago. From nothing he established a hat business that continued to flourish in the capable hands of her grandfather and father. The Lelewer legacy for successful living is (1)not to presume entitlement, but advance by imagination, hard work, and perseverance;(2)overcome obstacles with determination;(3)love your family mightily;(4)help others.
Nancy recounts a fascinating tale about her early years in Highland Park, Illinois; her lifelong and triumphant struggle with dyslexia–her own and later her children’s; education at Sarah Lawrence and with the Smith Group in Spain; two marriages and divorces; exciting business ventures, world travel, and research projects in the field of dyslexia at MIT and Harvard Medical School.
The story closes with Nancy’s own spirited legacy to her grandchildren, several of whom have traveled the world with her: learn “to enjoy adventures, to try new things, to never give up . . .” (p.123).
The hardback book is a quality publication, enhanced by the photographs of several generations of Lelewer family and famous people who were and are important in the author’s life.
KAY BRIGHAM, historian, author
Coral Gables, FL
Review by Mary Hadley, June 15, 2010
The Lelewer Legacy is filled with many fascinating stories of six generations of a family in America. Throughout the book there are numerous segments which combine to make the powerful story of a husband’s/father’s love and devotion for his wife and daughter. A visual analogy is Victoria Falls that cascades through the author onto her children and grandchildren. She is blessed by her father’s wisdom and guidance to always preserver, never give up, share love with family and lessons in how to maintain and build financial investments. The author is part of a very small percentage of the population who is able and does take her children and grandchildren on fun and educational trips so they will know people, cultures and places from different parts of the world. This book is not only a gift to the author’s descendants but to all those who read it.
Review by Suzanne D. Power-Carpine, June 16, 2010
“The Lelewer Legacy” is a good read which held my interest from cover to cover. The author mixed factual information with captivating real life achievements albeit challenges along the way. Intermingled within the text are numerous photographs creating a firsthand visualization of family and friends whose history and present interaction provides strength to a flourishing present day family. Her story line repeats itself within millions of American families that reach back generations to where we find ourselves in today’s global world.
Suzanne D. Power-Carpine
Review by Elizabeth J. Boyle, June 20, 2010
“The Lelewer Legacy” is extraordinary. It is a six generation combination biography and autobiography written by a woman who had a remarkable father – a man who was admired and loved by many. That describes my own father and many I know. The special difference about this father is that Joe Lelewer was so much more than a good father, he was also a good parent. He saw his child as the unique individual every child is. Joe delighted in guiding his daughter to discover herself and he delighted in her. With Father’s Day in mind,his is an especially fine read. Elizabeth J. Boyle, attorney and rancher.
Review by M. Holland, June 20, 2010
“The Lelewer Legacy, Traditions of a Loving Family”, by Author Nancy Lelewer; is stimulating, heartwarming and simply, quite special. This book transcends generations and time, in such an interesting and thought provoking way. It is a family love story, where faith guides and hope inspires, from generation to generation.
More so, it is a practical handbook of life’s situations, which all readers may relate to and learn from. Among the many pages of wisdom, is a quote by Nancy’s Great-Grandfather, David: “Man creeps into childhood, bounds into youth, sobers into manhood and softens in age”.
The Lelewer Legacy is a must read. It is a book which the reader will have difficulty putting down and when finished will want to reread it, as I did. Nancy Lelewer intertwines, inseparably so, “Time Past, Time Present, Time Future”, culminating with Great-Grandfather David’s precepts, which were written in 1910 as part of his own autobiography.
This book will make an ideal gift for readers of all backgrounds and interests. It is like a very special corsage, in a landscape of grass.
Review By MP Holland. Educator for over 20 years wearing many hats including Boarding School Headmaster, Founding Director of Summer Programs at a Private School, and College Instructor. In the private sector as a Chief Financial Officer and Stockbroker.
Review by William F. Wunsch, Jr. Retired Boston Wool Trade Executive, June 21, 2010
THE LELEWER LEGACY is a chronicle of an important and interesting family filled with poignant details. The subjects come to life while one is reading. This book is beautifully written and the numerous pictures located with their stories are an added bonus.
Review by Leila Sobin, China Trader, June 21, 2010
This delightful book sparkles with joy and happiness. It is more than a legacy as within its pages are a biography and autobiography which make it unique and real.
One feels the happiness of an only child of a loving mother and a wise and loving father who treats his daughter like a daughter but also like a son. This makes her independent and ready for anything that comes her way.
The author relates how she is passing on this legacy to her children and grandchildren and makes you hope you are doing as well!
–Leila Sobin, China Trader
Review by Beranek, June 25, 2010
I sat entranced as I read through the Lelewer Legacy which covers the enthralling stories of a half-dozen generations of this family. I learned more about the hats business–something that still existed in my youth but is gone today. The intimate remarks, like, “I’m trying to decide if it’s cheaper to buy a horse or get married,” are fascinating. The father-daughter relationship (Joseph and Nancy) is warming and well told. I lived here with her stories about loves, marriage and children. And there were travels–Europe, Africa, Asia. The 1983 storm at sea with friends–supposedly from Martha’s Vineyard to Norfolk–was gripping. Then there is the crazy story of how she became a research associate at MIT, a position she got, in part, because the professor wanted to learn about dyslexia. And then Nancy helped a foreign stranger establish a wheel-chair company in the US. And this all led her to the Harvard Medical School where she became an Associate in Neurology. Her children grew up and got married and had grandchildren. And then came her grandchilden trips: Shanghai and inland, a safari in Kenya, next India, then a cruise to the Greek Islands, and finally to South America. At each locale interesting stories evolve so entrancing that I was unable to put the book down. The book ends with a beautiful collection of photographs. Each reader will resonate with parts of the book and all is a charming experience.
Review by Howard Theodore Hermann, M.D., June 27, 2010
This book is a sleeper. When you start, you think you are about to enter a typical portrait of a poor immigrant family making it in the USA. Then with growing intensity the author leads you from the amazed, nurturant arms of parents cradling their only surviving infant (after repeated, terrifying efforts to achieve a full term pregnancy) to the joyous blooming of a young girl in the midwest. What transpires is a ‘view from the bridge’ of the author’s encounters with life. told in a simple, direct mode, from her lips to your ears, You share her triumph over developmental neurological hurdles, her delightful as well as troubling , extraordinary adventures. Not until the very end, when she unrolls the moral precepts of her great grandfather, David, do you finally realize this is a tale of how such tradition can guide innocents through the best and worst of life’s exigencies and bring them safely and serenely to rest. There is a tradition in Judaism of the Lamed Waf who takes on the sins and evil of the human condition in order to save us all. The author is no Lamed Waf, she was rewarded with bountiful children and grandchildren, but she has walked the walk.
Review by Springbok “Springbok”, June 27, 2010
Nancy, Shares with us, traditions and great values, that we should all be following.. With her wit and love for all her family she unfolds many wonderful stories .. Just a truly fascinating and heart warming book we should all read… AN absolute delight>>>>>
Review by Meredith Rutter, June 28, 2010
This is a terrific, easy-to-read, life-affirming legacy book honoring Lelewer’s forebears, especially along the paternal line, and continuing through Lelewer’s grandchildren. Anyone interested in family heritages – and how they can affect succeeding generations – will find much to enjoy in the unique history and tales this author tells.
Author Lelewer begins with her great-great-grandfather’s death at sea while emigrating from Germany to the United States, and her great-grandfather’s successful completion of that goal thirteen years later, in 1861, when he was eighteen. It was this David Lelewer who eventually established the Lelewers in Chicago, Illinois, where the family line continued through to the author.
Her father, Joseph Lelewer, grew up in the family business, which had started in furs and morphed to hats, and after learning all about the hat business, worked with his brother to morph the company again, from hats to men’s clothing. The author grew up in the rarefied atmosphere afforded by a hugely successful enterprise, but her parents, Joseph and wife Mina Clara (Sis) Ullman, raised her to operate under the same principles of good will and hard work that defined her forebears.
Nancy’s eventual marriage took her to Boston, Massachusetts, where she has raised four children and now enjoys passing familial and her own wisdom on to her eight grandchildren. Her final chapter describes how she is taking them, as they reach the appropriate ages, on trips to learn about the world and the human qualities that unite all of us. She is passing along the precepts written down by her great-grandfather David, which begin, “Let it be your aim in life, when children grow up, that you can impart to them some instructions I gave you, with more valuable hints added, gathered in by your own experiences…” Author Nancy Lelewer is doing this in spades.
Review by Alla Fitzgerald, June 30, 2010
I expected this book to be a rather tedious listing of family stories and events, and read it because it was a gift. It turned out to be a page-turner—an extremely well-written story of a family that went from rags to riches, but with some great events and people in the mix. The author’s father is an unique and funny man, who has a very touching relationship with his daughter, wife, and grandchildren. It is a good read.
Review by Peter D. Wulfsohn, July 3, 2010
As a person with a short attention span, I was especially pleased by the smooth and concise narrative of this book. It tends to attach itself to one’s interests from the very beginning, since its biographical qualities seem to illicit similar and contrasting experiences from the reader. We may, at first, see ourselves in the same light, but then realize how unusual and extreme were some of the situations Nancy faced and how she was able to react to both mundane and unexpected circumstances. Also apparent is how the continued support of a close and enduring family helped to carry her through the events that unfold. Perhaps it is the “that could be me — or maybe not” quality that makes this book a well-worthwhile adventure.
Review by Dr. Barbara Buchwald , July 4, 2010
This is the book you wish you could write about your own family, a celebration of life in this country during the years when it was possible to work hard, make good, and enjoy family and country. Nancy herself has had a tough life with dyslectic and autistic children and has largely educated herself during the period where little was known about either condition or how to treat affected children. She successfully raised her three afflicted and in effect saved the life of at least one grandchild, the condition being hereditary. She is an unheralded heroine in the field. Read it. It will inspire you and yours.
Review by M. S. Erickson, July 5, 2010
Mrs. Lelewer’s book tells a fascinating story of four generations of Lelewers each of whom faced his / her own challenges, but, through wits, inventiveness, luck, and sheer determination persevere to lead interesting lives.
Beginning with her family’s attempts to emigrate from Germany (her great-great-grandfather dies at sea leaving a wife and several children to survive on their own), Mrs. Lelewer tells a heart-warming story that takes us through succeeding generations who arrived in America essentially penniless, struggled to start a business that would support them, the creativity they brought to their retail business, the setbacks they encountered, and the morals and love they imbued in each succeeding generation that enabled them to face adversity and overcome it.
Equal appealing are the stories Mrs. Lelewer tells of the Lelewer family’s friends who went on to do amazing things in their own right as well as the rich history Mrs. Lelewer weaves into her stories which range from the history of Chicago to the evolution of advertising.
Mrs. Lelewer is fortunate to have an intriguing family and we are fortunate she took the time to write a book that allows us to read their stories.
Review by B. Kelley , July 10, 2010
I love this story! If you have ever wondered who the people were who got our young country off the ground, wonder no more. With hard work, love of country and family, and a little luck, the Lelewers became true Americans after emigrating from Germany. The author pays tribute to her ancestors along with her mother and father. I love the part about Al Capone sending his “boys” to buy hats in the Lelewer store. These and other true tales are portrayed. Read it by the pool or at the beach this summer. It will make you wonder if there are any families like this today.
Review Joan Kleinrock , July 11, 2010
This is a captivating book to read, especially so because I had the privilege of knowing Nancy Lelewer’s parents for several years. Mina “Sis” and Joe were delightful, fun, warm and inviting to talk with. I did not know them well until…staying with them on a business trip to Florida; they insisted I join them for morning coffee. The coffee pot was plugged in their bathroom and served in the bedroom while we chatted in our nightclothes!
I enjoyed this book not only because Nancy’s memories ring so true, but also for the rich history of life in America she illustrates.
In addition to the close relationship between Nancy and her father, she also shares her loving – yet strained – relationship with her mother. Sis had a progressive profound hearing loss, a disability that in many ways kept Sis on the outside…a spectator to the closeness between father and daughter. Feelings of isolation had to be hurtful to both of them. Once Sis and Joe joined and became active in the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), Sis began to utilize communication tools that helped her and, helped her to help others. As a result, Sis was able to come out of isolation and the family grew closer. Now, Nancy is an HLAA member herself and serves on the HLAA Board of Trustees.
Review by Joyce Simard, July 16, 2010
I am a very fast reader; I gobble up books quickly and then I’m on to the next one. Nancy’s book turned into a different experience for me. I read one chapter at a time and then found myself putting the book down and thinking about what I had just read. Each chapter brought back a flood of memories of my own family and experiences I had growing up that I had not thought about for years.
Nancy also helped me realize that the good and the not so good times help to make up who we are. Thank you Nancy for this wonderful introduction to your family and gentle reminder of how important it is in this fast paced world to treasure our own families and take time to pass on our own legacy .
Review by M. YEPIZ, July 19, 2010
I truly cherished this book. It brings you back to those times when people still used hats and were surprised about seeing a television. I think that it is important to read real stories of the people who formed the America as we know it today.
The writer is full of amazing stories that delight you one chapter after the other.
I really enjoyed this book and I highly recommend it.
Review by Clara Apodaca, July 19, 2010
This outstanding book provides a marvelous insight not only into an extraordinary family but into the era that helped shape our business world. Nancy’s book is a touching, smart and personal experience that provides a backdrop to her thorough and illuminating life. A truly wonderful read.
Review by Midwest Book Review, August 11, 2010
Some families are not torn apart by strife, but find lasting happiness. “The Lelewer Legacy: Traditions of a Loving Family” tells a more upbeat and positive story of an American family, starting with a man who immigrated to America in 1861. Through the decades, his legacy of kindness and family has stayed strong, and through the writing, Nancy Lelewer hopes other families will take heed and embrace these values. “The Lelewer Legacy” is a charming and inspirational read.
Review by Dr. Lynn Lazarus Serper , August 19, 2010
The Lelewer Legacy is a wonderful story of family love. Throughout the generations of men (and women, too!) life philosophies of overcoming, appreciating, valuing and loving were experienced by family members and passed on. I thoughly enjoyed the adventures that were woven thoughout Nancy’s life — at the oddest of times and in the oddest of ways. The Lelewer Legacy tells of warm relationships within a life of surprises — a must read!
Review by Joseph Aieta, III, October 31, 2010
I have been meaning to write you for over a month. Initially when I received your book, I intended to look into a chapter or three, get a feel for the contents, and then return to my history reading. I got hooked and read it from cover to cover, including appendixes. It’s a shame that you led such a dull life! I’m also quite humbled that you mentioned me in the text. Your dad was quite a man. My life is much the richer for having had the opportunity to know both him and his interesting offspring.
Thank you so much again for your thoughtfulness in giving me a copy of your work.
With best wishes,
Joe Aieta, III
Professor of Humanities