Rita Wolfson

Rita Wolfson

Humanitarian, philanthropist, artist, and civic and Jewish leader dies in Chapel Hill.

Rita Atlas Goldstein Wolfson peacefully passed away Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2017, at her home in Chapel Hill, N.C.

Rita was the oldest child of her loving parents, Ollie and Bertha Atlas. She grew up in Washington, D.C., and graduated from Roosevelt High School and Chevy Chase Junior College. Rita was predeceased by her former husband, Marvin C. Goldstein, and her sister, Sonia A. Levin. Rita was a matriarch and an amazing woman of great beauty and stature. A humanitarian, philanthropist, artist, and civic and Jewish leader, she was loved and admired in Washington, Atlanta, Palm Beach, Manhasset and Chapel Hill for her endless devotion to the families and communities where she lived. Together with Marvin for over 40 years, they created a shared life of Jewish values and community leadership. She was a consummate host, whether for the governor at her home, the Israeli prime minister at the Atlanta American Hotel, or the Goldstein family’s Sunday pool parties in her beautiful back yard. Rita was always gracious, intelligent, charming and gorgeous.

A highlight of her life was the invitation from President Carter to her and Marvin for the Camp David Mideast peace signing. Rita met many world leaders, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Israeli prime ministers and American presidents, and she and Marvin were invited to the White House by President Carter. She loved meeting Bill and Hillary Clinton and avidly participated in the 2016 election. Rita was co-chair of the UJA North America World Assembly in Atlanta and was a recipient of the Woman of Valor award from the Friends of the Hebrew University. A passionate flower gardener, Rita was especially proud of her establishment with Marvin of a rooftop garden in Jerusalem at Lifeline for the Aged, Yad LaKashish, which empowers over 300 elderly residents of Jerusalem. Rita established a Community Friendship Garden at the Lerner Jewish Day School in Durham, N.C. Rita’s philanthropic spirit will live on in perpetuity through Jewish Federation Lion of Judah annual campaign endowments in Atlanta, Palm Beach and Durham/Chapel Hill.

Rita was a member of Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta for over 50 years. As an artist, Rita produced an outstanding collection of dozens of marble sculptures that will grace her family’s homes for generations to come. Later in life, she took up painting again, giving her beautiful canvases away to those lucky enough to come through her doors. There was no one like Rita, who shared her love nonstop with all. This was especially true of the large Goldstein family, the Atlas family, the Wolfson family, and the hundreds of domestic, dental and hotel employees for whom she personally bought and wrapped gifts for every holiday season for 40 years. Rita’s circles of friends and colleagues spanned the globe. She taught, by example, how to be a good person: write letters, make calls, welcome family and strangers, care for each other, do what’s right.

Rita remarried after Marvin’s death and is survived by her husband, Harold Wolfson of Delray Beach, Fla., and his children: Jamie (Phillip, Andrew), Cindy (Larry) and Gary (Fernanda, Ezra). Harold and Rita had a charmed marriage, traveling the world with wonderful friends. They brought together their two families at the beach, in the mountains and on the ocean as they shared their mutual commitment to Judaism, Israel and family. She is survived by her brother, Simon Atlas (Ellen) of Bethesda, Md.; her son Armand Goldstein of Acworth; her daughter Aleta Aaron (Howard) of Atlanta; her son Andrew Goldstein of Occidental, Calif.; her daughter Anne Strickland (Curt) of Stoughton, Mass.; and her son Adam Goldstein (Beth) of Chapel Hill. More than anything, Grandma Rita loved her 10 grandchildren — Alana (Jack), Tonja (Justin), Blair (Matt), Jesse (Laura), Willow, Leah, Jared, Michael, Elianna and Nicotiana — and her three great-grandchildren, Miles, Rune and Lennon. Rita was fortunate to have her wonderful aide, Caroline Fauci, with her for the last several years of her life, as well as Jane Hayes and many other caregivers in Chapel Hill. Rita was blessed to have Adam and Beth nearby, whose ceaseless caring and commitment to Shabbat gave her a sacred place to stay connected with family and make new friends to her last day. All who knew her were blessed to have Rita in their lives.

Sign the online guestbook at www.edressler.com. Funeral services were held Friday, Feb. 3, at Ahavath Achim Synagogue in Atlanta with Rabbi Lawrence Rosenthal and Rabbi Daniel Greyber from Beth El Synagogue in Durham officiating. Graveside services followed in Arlington Memorial Park in Sandy Springs. Donations in Rita’s memory may be made to Yad LaKashish, www.lifeline.org.il, in honor of Rita Goldstein Wolfson, or to the Rita Goldstein Wolfson Friendship Garden at the Lerner Jewish Day School, www.lernerschool.org. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Home, 770-451-4999.

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