Sylvia Weisz just celebrated her 100th birthday: a century of life well lived, examples well set and generosity well shared.
"Getting old is no fun," Weisz says with a defiant laugh. She was diagnosed with age-related macular degeneration (AMD) about a decade ago. In addition to loving crossword puzzles – which she did in ink – Weisz was an avid card player and voracious reader. Due to her AMD, she has had to give up her much-loved card games and has switched to "books that talk to me. I like all kinds of books, especially love stories," the Los Angeles native says.
Her own love story was with her husband, David, with whom she attended Hollywood High School and UCLA (as part of its first graduating class), raised two daughters and became enmeshed in the Los Angeles Jewish community. The couple's generosity reached throughout the city, to myriad philanthropies, including Cedars-Sinai Hospital, Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Jewish Home for the Aging, the Jewish Federation of Los Angeles and, of course, The Discovery Eye Foundation (DEF).
A friend and patient of DEF Medical Director Dr. Anthony Nesburn's father, Weisz was involved with DEF long before her own AMD diagnosis and has been a member of its board of directors since the organization's founding. "I feel I am part of the family. I respect the work [Dr. Nesburn is] doing, and I want to help," Weisz says.
Weisz's daughter Judy Carroll lives in the same Los Angeles building as her mother and also serves on the DEF board. She grew up with Dr. Nesburn and deeply understands the importance of his work with DEF, especially in the wake of her mother's diagnosis.
"The most important sense we have is sight," Carroll says. "Losing it is sad and frightening, and we believe in DEF's research work. You can't put the cart before the horse: Everything starts with research. And then we pray we'll see results within our lifetime. More often than not, we probably don't. But it has to be funded, because, ultimately, research finds the answer."
"My mother is just the most amazing woman," Carroll says. "She has always encouraged us to worry about and help others. Just as her parents taught her, she taught us to give back. We have a family legacy that supports our involvement with DEF – and that all stems from her."
Posted January 2012