Marilyn Breckstein Signer died peacefully at Lakeland Regional Medical Center on November 11, 2023 at the age of 98. She was born on September 16, 1925 in Charleston, West Virginia to Aaron and Zelda Cohen Breckstein. The family owned Breckstein’s Department Store in Richwood, West Virginia, where they were the only Jews in town. When Marilyn’s father died in 1935, she moved with her mother and baby brother to Charleston and then Washington, DC before finally settling in Miami, Florida.
Marilyn graduated from Miami Senior High School in 1943. By that time she had already met and fallen in love with Allan Signer, and they were married on February 13, 1944. In 1948, looking for a better life, they moved to Lakeland, FL, where they became lifelong members of Temple Emanuel. Although their initial business venture was the Regal Department Store, they gained success with the Polk Shopper, a weekly advertising paper. They retired from the Shopper in 1973, which gave them time to pursue their passion of breeding champion German Shepherd dogs.
Marilyn was a past president of the Temple Emanuel Sisterhood. Other community activities included tutoring elementary school children and volunteering at Lakeland Volunteers in Medicine. She was a lover of all animals and long ago told her family she wished to be remembered as being able to stroke a wild owl and feed the outcasts of the animal kingdom. Her first act every morning was to supply peanuts to the squirrels that populated her yard. Over the years, she adopted a wild boar and a wild chicken, whose eggs she collected each morning. She was a lover of light opera; her favorite was “Patience” by Gilbert and Sullivan. She played a killer game of Mah Jongg, wrote many letters to the editor of the Lakeland Ledger, and had the distinction of being banned from Facebook multiple times.
Marilyn was predeceased by her husband Al, her parents, and her brother Dr. Martin Breckstein. She is survived by her children Arnold (Susan) Signer; Mona Signer (Robert McCann); her grandchildren Greg (Lynn) Signer; Abby (Brian) Gleicher; Joy (Gil) Farnsworth; Scott McCann (Kathryn Howell); Laura McCann (Mark Ricche); and great grandchildren Alex and Molly Gleicher; Amanda Signer; Jackson Farnsworth; Eva and Noah McCann; and sister-in-law Beverly Breckstein.
Funeral Services will be held Tuesday, November 14, at 10:30 a.m. at Temple Emmanuel; 600 Lake Hollingsworth Drive in Lakeland. A graveside service will follow. The funeral will be live-streamed at https://venue.streamspot.com/e158c19d. Shiva will be at the family home in Lakeland at 6:00 p.m. on November 14. Donations in lieu of flowers may be to the Signer Fund at Temple Emanuel or to the Florida Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
Condolences may be sent to the family at Gentry Morrison Funeral Home.
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