Paula Mendoza Blum was born on August 6, 1922 in Manhattan, NY and died on August 6,2017 at age 95, at her home in Westborough, Massachusetts. Paula leaves behind a beloved family including 3 children: Steven Blum (Betty), Deborah Hart (Ed) and Alison Akard (Andy). Survivors also include grandchildren Erin Lyons, Katie Blum, Mallory Akard, Tim Hart, and great-grandchild, Samantha Lyons. Paula lost her husband Leon in 2002; they were married for over 50 years. She was also pre-deceased by her beloved parents, Mary and Isadore Mendoza.
Paula Blum was an amazingly accomplished person who engaged people all along her journey. Her sharp mind was never satisfied with being on the sidelines; she constantly was working for the betterment of her family, community, and professional groups. Paula grew up in the Bronx, was first in her elementary school class, finished junior high in 2 years instead of 3, and then finished high school in 2 ½ years, graduating at 15 years old. Paula was accepted to attend Hunter High School, the school for gifted girls in NYC. However, her mother would not allow her to ride the subway every day to the school. She did attend Hunter College, majoring in Economics and graduating in 1944. Paula had met her future husband Leon when they were both 10 years old, and they married in 1946 shortly after he returned from serving in WWII. Paula worked as an accountant before marriage, then became a homemaker as was the custom at that time. Steven and Debbie were born in the Bronx; the family moved to Glen Cove, NY when Alison was on the way. Paula went back to college at Hofstra to obtain her Masters of Education and started her new career as a business teacher at Carle Place High School in 1964. As an educator, Paula was notable for her involvement as the founding president of the Carle Place Teacher’s Association, was a lifelong member of the NY State United Teachers, was an active member and officer of the League of Woman’s Voters, and on the Brandeis Woman’s Committee. Even before going back to work, Paula sold Yearbook Encyclopedias and was active in the school PTA groups. Paula was instrumental in having Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt attend a PTA meeting at Steven’s elementary school – as she had met her several years prior. Also notable was when Paula got Glen Cove High School to start a girls’ varsity tennis team soon after Title VIIII was enacted.
Never one to let her mind be idle, after retiring from teaching in 1984, Paula continued to be active in so many things. She was always an avid bridge player, she tutored homebound students, was a volunteer tax preparer for AARP, chaired many committees including the Film Club at her second home in Florida, and was actively involved in her temple in Glen Cove. While she unfortunately lost her eyesight to macular degeneration in 1997, she found alternative ways to stay active taking full advantage of books on tape and other compensatory tools provided by groups for blindness and low vision.
Paula was an only child but had a large extended family of aunts, uncles and many cousins that she was very close with. Her mother Mary was very overprotective not allowing her to learn to swim or ride a bicycle. So it was a challenge to be married to Leon, a very athletic man, who taught her to play tennis and to drive! They loved to host tennis parties for friends and family in the back yard of their Glen Cove home.
Late in life, Paula moved to the Willows in Westborough, Massachusetts, close to the homes of Steven and Debbie. As was typical for her, Paula embraced her new community and made friends with so many there. She played bridge, attended as many social and cultural events as possible and was able to live independently with the help of loving caregivers, Elisa Bravo and Susan Norton. Paula Blum will be greatly missed by all who knew her.
Services at Temple B’Nai Shalom, 117 East Main St., Westborough, Wednesday, August 9, 2017, at 10:00 am. Following burial at Pine Grove Cemetery, Westborough, a Celebration of Life will be held at The Willows, 1 Lyman St., Westborough from 12:30-2:30 pm. Shiva will be at the home of Steven and Betty Blum on Wednesday evening 6-8 pm. In lieu of flowers, please consider donations to the Perkins School for the Blind, Macular Degeneration Association, and the Center for the Visually Impaired.