Former Ledger publisher Shirley Bunis dies at 97

HARTFORD – Shirley Charlotte Weinberg Bunis, former publisher of the Connecticut Jewish Ledger, died Monday, May 11 at her home in West Hartford, a day after spending her final Mother’s Day with her family. She was 97.

Born in Hartford, Bunis was the daughter of the late Lena (Epstein) and Hyman Weinberg. A graduate of Weaver High School Class of 1935 and the Morse School of Business, she began working at the Ledger while still in high school.


Ledger publishers Bert Gaster and Shirley Bunis at work (date unknown).

In the early 1950s, by then a wife and mother, Bunis was summoned to help run the paper. In 1966, she was serving as the Ledger’s advertising manager and Bert Gaster was its managing editor, when the two purchased the weekly Jewish newspaper founded by Rabbi Abraham J. Feldman in 1929. Bunis and Gaster launched the Bridgeport Jewish Ledger in 1970 and the New Haven Jewish Ledger in 1972. Both papers were eventually incorporated into a single statewide edition.

Excelling in all things academic, Bunis was still in grade school when she was awarded a full set of the works of William Shakespeare. She remained proud of that accomplishment throughout her life, and through the years exhibited the books on the shelves of her home. Her expertise with words was made evident to family and friends during her much loved games of Scrabble and her diligent work completing The New York Times crossword puzzles.

Bunis’ love of family was evident through her actions, notes her daughter, Marlene Grower. “From traveling by trolley car as a young girl eager to visit with her grandmother, to traveling to pick up her grandchildren from school for a visit, she always had to be there for you,” she notes. “Her homemade meals soothed her father in his later years, and care of her husband, Lester, who had Alzheimer’s and finally passed in June 2002, took enormous strength and love.”

Bunis and her husband raised their two daughters in Hartford and later West Hartford, spending summer and school vacations in Charleston, R.I. and Port St. Lucie, Fla. She was a member of Teferes Israel Synagogue in Bloomfield, and Beth David Synagogue in West Hartford.

Shirley Bunis is survived by her daughters, Harriet Bunis of West Hartford and Marlene Grower and her husband, Lewis, of Wethersfield; her grandchildren, Sandra Grower of Newington, and Leah Belin and her husband Jeremy of Rockville, Md.; her great-granddaughter, Naomi Belin, of Rockville, Md.; her brother, Morton Weinberg, and his wife, Hannah, of West Hartford; and several nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents and her husband, she was predeceased by her sister, Anita DiLiberto, and her brother, Alvin Weinberg, both of West Hartford.

Burial took place on May 12 at Beth David Synagogue Cemetery in Wethersfield. Memorial contributions may be made to a charity of the donor’s choice.


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