Gelfand, Louis Lou was a non-believer but a high achiever, a man of enormous determination who survived much heartbreak and hardship. As a frail boy growing up in Tulsa, he endured the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression; as an adult he suffered the loss of his wife, Ravina, 17 years ago, and of his son, Tony, 14 years ago. Aside from his family, his greatest love was journalism. But that would have to wait until the end of WW II. He served in an Army Intelligence unit and counted as life-long friends the Japanese-American soldiers with and from whom he learned Japanese. Then he worked as a sportswriter with the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Supporting his family was more important, however, and so he soon began a career as a public relations specialist, working for the old Minneapolis & St. Louis Railroad and then Pillsbury. After that, he became the first administrator of the Guthrie Theatre, raising funds for its construction and, much to Ravina's delight, making friends with the likes of Tyrone Guthrie, Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy. His final job, and certainly his favorite, was as ombudsman for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. The job combined his love of newspapers with his affinity for drawing lines in the ethical sand. Although rarely an early adopter, Lou was working as a PR man for Pillsbury when he realized, long before most, that you are what you eat. This was back in the early 1960s, when it was still a curiosity to see adults - Lou among them - jogging around a lake. It was also around this time that Lou willed himself to prefer unseasoned fish and unadorned baked potatoes to steak and french fries. Salt, sugar and fat became his mortal enemies, and his enmity toward these lethal substances helped assure a long and healthy life. But not even self-denial could defeat Alzheimer's, a scourge that would eventually claim his life on December 11, at the age of 91. Lou is survived by his son, Michael; grandchildren, Jacob, Max and Sam; and daughter-in-law, Julie Geiger. The family suggests memorials to the Alzheimer's Association or SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education). Lou will be buried privately, but a memorial will be held in the next few weeks.
Published on December 15, 2013
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