Tributes to a 'highly cultured young Jewish man'
At the young age of 32, Isidor Victor Weisskopf, a popular, hard working leader of the Young Men's Hebrew Association who operated a corset shop at 803 Washington Ave. in St. Louis, died of typhoid fever on Aug. 18, 1903 in Jewish Hospital.
Isidor Victor Weisskopf was born July 7, 1871, in Suzan, Bohemia, Austro-Hungarian Empire, according to his 1895 U.S. passport application. He departed from Hamburg, Germany, aboard the German ship Australia on April 24, 1884, on his way to New York, where he lived for a while before relocating to San Francisco, Calif. He became a U.S. citizen on July 11, 1894, in the Superior Court of San Francisco.
He lived for several years in San Francisco before moving to St. Louis in about 1897.
In 1899, he was among the first members of the Young Men's Hebrew Association of St. Louis and he remained an active member until his death. He helped plan a YMHA carnival in 1899; was elected president of the YMHA Chess and Checker Club on Feb. 16, 1902; helped lead a YMHA discussion on the Chinese Exclusion Act in April 1902; was elected to the YMHA board of directors in January 1903; and chaired a YMHA committee that presented a production of "The Lady of Lyons" in April 1903.
On May 30, 1900, he married Caroline Kober in St. Louis. The June 8, 1900, Jewish Voice described the ceremony as follows: "The many friends of Miss Carrie Kober and Mr. Isidor Weisskopf will be glad to learn of their marriage on Wednesday, May 30th, at the residence of [United Hebrew Temple Rabbi] Rev. Dr. [Henry J.] Messing, 4439 Delmar Ave. The ceremony was performed in the presence of the bride's father [Leopold Kober] and brother [Joseph Kober] and the groom's friends, Drs. Bernard S. Simpson and Ernst Saxl."
I.V. and Carrie Weisskopf had two children, Irene Babette Weisskopf and Philipp Gustav Weisskopf. According to his Post-Dispatch death notice, I.V. was also survived by his siblings, Mrs. R. Beerman, Mrs. L. Reich, Mrs. E. Bibo, Miss Fannie Weisskopf, C.W. Weisskopf and Samuel Weisskopf.
On Aug. 21, 1903, three days after Isidor Victor Weisskopf's death, Emil Mayer, president of the Young Men's Hebrew Association, wrote a tribute to his friend in the Jewish Voice, the weekly St. Louis community newspaper:
"The sad news of the death of I.V. Weisskopf has just reached us. He was a member of our board of directors, chairman of the class committee and one of the faithful, one of the few who have helped to make the association what it is. As a man he enjoyed the confidence of those about him. Honest, upright and conscientious, a devoted husband and father. His demise, so unexpected, causes grief not alone to those nearest to him, but to that wider circle who called him friend.
"The memory of a good name is the dearest treasure that one can leave behind. The knowledge that our departed friend during his life held the esteem of all who knew him is a source of satisfaction to all who mourn for him. ... The members of the YMHA are requested by their presence [at his funeral] to pay a last tribute to one who in his life so merited their esteem and who labored faithfully for our association."
After the funeral, two more tributes to I.V. Weisskopf were published in the Aug. 28, 1903 Jewish Voice. The following one, unsigned, was probably written by Rabbi Moritz Spitz, editor and publisher of the Voice:
"When last Sunday afternoon they bore all that was earthly of I.V. Weisskopf to their last resting in Mt. Sinai Cemetery, from his home which he had but recently acquired for the comfort of his little family he so dearly loved, many hearts went out in the deepest sympathy to his sorely bereaved young widow and two babes, to his brothers and sisters, and a heart-broken mother.
"It is not often that so young a man--he was only thirty two years of age--has so many staunch friends and well wishers as had the departed. He gained the friendship of some of the best among us in the brief time of his residence here--about five years only--by his intelligence, his earnestness rarely seen in so young a man, and by his unusual keen insight into the problems of human life. By a conversation with him on any subject his extensive reading could easily be discerned.
"We were surprised one day to discover in him an ardent Zionist, the principles of which he had embraced as that of the only possible solution of the so-called Jewish Question. He had very strong convictions, and he was not easily shaken in them. His young face framed in the almost white hair of his head always reminded us of Ben Azariah, who made a memorable remark of himself, 'I am like one seventy years of age!'"
The other Aug. 28, 1903, tribute to I.V. in the Jewish Voice was signed at the bottom, but the poor quality of the microfilm made the signature line unreadable. It appeared under the headine, "IN MEMORIAM: I.V. Weisskopf:
"Great men do not always die leaving behind a worldwide reputation. The men who give their lives caring for their families, building business for the provision of their dear ones, keeping peacefully within the province of their homes, content to be near their mothers, their wives and their children, harming no one, with a kind word for the fallen, a willing hand for the needy--such men are great. Such a man was I.V. Weisskopf. Thirty two years is a short span for a life. Thirty two years for I.V. Weisskopf was not even a fair beginning.
"He loved life for what it meant to those he loved, he loved life for what good he found in living, and he always found good. To him everything in life had a good purpose; nothing appealed to him but what it contained some good. When the fever was raging, when his life had but two short weeks further to go, how little I.V. Weisskopf expected to die is best known to those who knew him best! He gave up his life as few men do in the cause of work. He appreciated the dignity of labor to the undermining of his health, and it was this very passionate love for work that blinded him to his physical weakness. The body was too weak for a mind that stood unequaled at his age.
"He was the most highly cultured young Jewish man in our city. He knew more of the philosophy of life at thirty two than most men know at fifty. He always loved an argument, not for the sake of dispute, but to hear the other man's views. He was never particular about a choice of sides. He would always give his opponent the privilege of choosing his side. And he is gone! His true friends cannot realize that he, I.V. Weisskopf, is dead! No--only time--only the lack of meeting that dear, kind, familiar face, of hearing that quiet, easy fluent speech will tell them of their bereavement. He is gone, and all that is best in man, will not be too much to keep open his memory.
"He leaves those who loved him with one thought, one everlasting, ever enduring truth--the highest tribute--that can be paid to a human being, namely, a manly man, with a character exemplifying all the virtues that God bestows upon a mortal being. Let him rest! Short as was his life, doubly, aye, fifty times longer, will his memory live in the hearts, the minds and memory of those who loved true manhood. ..."
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