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SYLVIA (Cherong) FEIN
December 3, 2023
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Sylvia Cherong Fein, of Philadelphia, died peacefully on Sunday morning, December 3rd from natural causes at her home. She was 107 years old.
Sylvia was born on June 14, 1916, in Malden, Ma, the second of five daughters of Isaac and Bertha Cherong, immigrants to the United States from Kiev, then part of the Russian Empire. The family moved to Philadelphia when Sylvia was a child; she graduated from Simon Gratz High School in 1934.
Over the course of a remarkably long and varied career, unusual for a woman at that time, Sylvia worked as a legal secretary, for a business association and as an independent bookkeeper and accountant for many clients. She also managed a firm of over 500 employees that manufactured women’s clothing in North Philadelphia.
Sylvia loved to travel and, in 1948, embarked on a life changing trip to Scandinavia, the UK and Europe with the intent to locate a friend’s missing family members at the end of the Second World War. After visiting Italy, Sylvia decided to pursue her lifelong passion for drawing and painting. Upon her return, she began to formally study art. She would paint and draw for the rest of her life.
Sylvia took art classes at The Plastic Club in Philadelphia and remained a member for more than fifty years. Exhibitions of her paintings, drawings, and watercolors were held in Philadelphia several times. Her artwork fills the walls of her home, and those of her friends and family members, who treasure her beautiful paintings and sketches. Even during the last months of her life, Sylvia continued to paint and to draw.
For her entire adult life, Sylvia volunteered and raised money for philanthropic causes that were meaningful to her. First as a nurse’s aide for the Red Cross at a local hospital during WWII and, for more than 70 years, Sylvia raised money for the City of Hope, a research hospital. Sylvia received national recognition for her service to that organization. She was active in Democratic politics, and an organizer of social activities in her apartment building. Widely read, a compassionate and devoted friend, Sylvia was also a bridge player until her final years.
A first marriage ended in divorce. At a New Year’s Eve party, when Sylvia was nearly 60 years old, she met widower, Joseph Fein. Their happy, loving marriage lasted 34 years. Joe passed away at 98, in 2009.
Sylvia is survived by her sister, Sara C. Goldberg of Philadelphia, and by five nieces and nephews, Steven Fine, Judith Temple, Patrice Garver, Michael Jacobs, and Amy Errett for whom Sylvia was a beloved maternal presence in their lives and the lives of their children and grandchildren. She is also survived by her late husband’s son, Maier Fein, his two sons and their families as well as numerous friends, neighbors and others who were blessed to know and to love her.
The family invites friends and acquaintances to join them in remembering Sylvia at the Philadelphia Ethical Society, 1906 Rittenhouse Square, Philadelphia between 2 - 5pm on Sunday, December 10th. Refreshments will be served. BERSCHLER and SHENBERG