Alma Balter, loved and adored mother, grandmother, great grandmother, pillar and historian of her family, died Oct. 24 peacefully in her sleep in Culver City, California. She was 104, which is to say, she enjoyed the full ride of life. Her death sparks true sadness, but even more admiration for a life well lived.
Born 5/5/17, as in, 1917, she was most proud of her large family and served as its matriarch.
Alma was the eldest child of Edith Firestone Simon, who played cornet in a ladies’ orchestra in the steel town of McKeesport, Pa., and Abraham Marcus Simon, dean of the city’s legal establishment and president for life of Temple B’nai Israel. She spoke constantly and fondly of her two younger brothers, James Simon, and Henry Simon, of L.A, who predeceased her.
Alma graduated from Winchester High School in Pittsburgh and Smith College. She also attended the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, one of two women in her class. She left to manage the Victory Center at Kaufmann’s department store in Pittsburgh – sending gifts and necessities to servicemen and women in WWII.
The love of her life, as she mentioned always and a few days ago, was William Balter, whom she married in 1945. They were a beautiful team, raising three children in Squirrel Hill, Robert (Margery Mann) of Philadelphia, Margie, who she moved to LA to be with before Margie’s heartbreaking and untimely death, and Joni (Timothy Egan) of Seattle. They were known for their clever theme parties, including one celebrating the Moon landing, another commemorating the farmland origin of her residential neighborhood.
Alma and Bill traveled the world in search of lifelong learning, and a great time - China, Paris, Rome, Scandinavia, India, Russia, Israel. Bill was a lawyer and businessman, co-owner of Jaison’s department stores in McKeesport, Braddock, Monroeville and elsewhere in western Pennsylvania. Alma worked as handbag buyer for the stores and as a docent for the Biblical Garden at Rodef Shalom Temple, where she also served as sisterhood president and trustee. The fun came in large doses; Bill was not only bright and selfless but also hilariously funny. He died in 2002. They were married 57 years.
Alma’s biggest fans include her three grandchildren, Meredith (Kevin Croy), Sophie Egan (Sam Kintz) and Casey Egan (Jaspreet Gill) and four great grandchildren, Grayson, Gabrielle, and twins Aiden and Elliot.
Alma lived in Florida for many years before moving to LA, playing bingo and participating in activities with her many friends, including Rita Hausman. In her last year, she received fabulous care from Rosie Garcia.
Alma’s passing marks the end of an era for the Simon and Balter families, and cuts a big hole in the heart of the Firestone clan. Her many loving cousins, particularly Charles Berney of Tarzana, CA, and nephews, Dan Simon of Santa Barbara and Alan Simon of Fort Bragg, CA, and all the others, will never forget Alma as the rock of the family, which, for her, is perhaps the nicest thing you could say.
A service will be held Sunday, October 31, 2021 at 10:00 AM in the Hunter Funeral Home, Inc., 1600 Coursin Street, McKeesport, PA 15132 with Rabbi Howard Stein officiating. Interment will follow in Temple B’nai Israel Cemetery, Versailles Borough, Pennsylvania. Los Angeles Memorial Service, November 14, 2021, at 4001 Ballina Drive, Encino, CA 91436.