NISKAYUNA — Mona Golub poured a glass of wine for her mother Tuesday morning.
“Let’s start with a toast to Jane,” Golub said, as she stood at the lectern at Congregation Gates of Heaven. “She loved a good glass of the house chardonnay.”
Golub’s proposal and pour sparked laughter and applause from the 1,200 people who gathered at the Schenectady synagogue for the funeral of Jane Golub, the longtime Niskayuna resident, teacher, philanthropist and community booster who died April 16 in Los Angeles at age 80.
Golub, along with her husband Neil and daughter Mona, became a major influence in the Price Chopper/Market 32 grocery store chain. She was remembered for her style, determination, achievements, collaborative spirit and friendly, caring way during a 67-minute ceremony that brought smiles, and some tears, to people in attendance.
Many who paid their respects came early. The synagogue’s main room was filled to near capacity by 10 a.m., 30 minutes before the service started. Several elected officials and members of the Capital Region’s business community were among the 1,000 who found seats in the main space.
The service was live-streamed to television sets in four smaller synagogue rooms, where about 200 others were seated.
The ceremony began with a violin solo by Tamara Freeman, Golub’s sister-in-law. Student cantor Stefano Iacono sang several psalms.
“She was an icon in our community,” said Gates of Heaven Rabbi Matthew S. Cutler. “Jane was our friend, our teacher, our companion in life. We mourn her and we shed tears of loss. We smile from behind that veil of tears and remember Jane as she was.”
Cutler also said he had seen many tributes to Golub around the area, including one at Proctors in Schenectady, at places where flags flew half-staff, in newspaper salutes and television retrospectives.
“Social media was abuzz with words of admiration and personal testimonials on how Jane touched their lives,” Cutler said. “Even God almighty encouraged the temple’s cherry blossom trees to bloom.”
The trees were full of the light pink flowers, and Cutler’s observation drew laughter. “That’s my story, I’m sticking to it,” he said.
Cutler remembered Golub inside Gates of Heaven.
“Like many institutions in the Capital District, this place was special to Jane,” he said. “Here, she sat four rows back on the aisle with the air conditioners blowing right on her, making her quite uncomfortable, as she would say.
“But she was here,” Cutler added. “Every major moment, Jane was here and she had the ability to encourage with a nod, a smile, a wink. Jane had a presence that was loved.”
Golub was remembered for her ability as a teacher, and days spent at Hillside Elementary School in Niskayuna from 1963 until 1986. She entertained kids with Friday afternoon “hootenanny” singing sessions and encouraged them to succeed.
Golub was also remembered for her loving partnership with Neil Golub, whom she met on a blind date with another couple — the foursome went bowling — in 1961. Jane and Neil married on June 2, 1963.
The Golubs later teamed up for work at Price Chopper/Market 32, where Jane became the company’s director of in-store marketing programs. They also teamed up to improve the community.
Jane Golub had a special affinity for the Schenectady Day Nursery, Girls Inc., Ellis Women’s Night Out and A Better U (through the American Heart Association). She co-chaired the Ellis Medicine Capital Campaign and with her husband dedicated its Women’s Breast Care and Heart Health Center and Emergency Department.
Golub also was passionate about the Jewish National Fund, Jewish Federation of Northeastern New York and St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, among other organizations.
“One of the things that amazed me about Jane was when she put her emphasis on something, she guaranteed it was going to be successful,” Cutler said. “It was going to thrive, it was going to be spectacular, because she would have it no other way.”
Tribute was also offered by WRGB-CBS6 anchor Liz Bishop, a longtime friend of the Golubs.
Bishop said she looked through WRGB archives for the station’s salute to Golub, and was reminded of her friend’s accomplishments.
“There were dozens and dozens of stories about her leadership and her generosity, the staggering donations, the charity golf tournaments, the lobster fest, Special Olympics, Go Red for Women, Ellis Hospital fundraiser, the No Place for Hate Rally, the miSci exhibit, the St. Jude’s telethon,” said Bishop, who mentioned several other Golub projects.
“Our 30-year friendship was forged at these events,” Bishop added. “I was often the person who introduced her, and when Jane was there two things inevitably happened. As she made her way to the podium, you could actually feel the anticipation, the affection and the respect from the crowd. And when she spoke, 4-feet, 11-inch Jane Golub was the most commanding figure in that room.”
Bishop also said when her father died in 2016, the Golubs attended both the wake and funeral. “When it was over, Jane gave me a hug I can still feel,” she said.
Barry Freeman, Jane Golub’s brother, said his big sister looked out for him. When his grades dipped in junior high school, his academic future looked dim.
“Just as I was about ready to be enrolled in a terribly overcrowded New York City public high school, Jane stepped in,” Freeman said.
Golub wanted her brother to go to a small school, a place where he could focus on his studies and become better prepared for college.
“Fortunately for me, our parents listened to Jane, dug deeper in the family budget and sent me to a fine private school,” Freeman said. “College, two master’s degrees and a doctorate followed nicely. So thank you Jane, for your help in this situation and many others.”
Mona Golub spoke about her mother’s full life.
“My mom was a graceful but fiercely independent woman, a nurturer of people, full of good humor and humanity,” she said. “She lived every day with purpose and never let a day go by without accomplishment. She lived her life to the fullest, doing what she loved to do with whom she loved to do it.”
Golub also talked about the way her mother influenced her.
“She was my loudest cheerleader and my toughest coach,” she said, “challenging me whenever I dared to give anything less than my best. She taught me the love of bringing out the best in others and letting them return the favor.”
Golub said her parents recently flew to Palm Springs, California, for an early April LPGA tournament. It was an annual trip, with golf, visits with friends and dressing in style all in the plans.
Golub said her mother always dressed up, even for casual activities such as grandson Ira’s basketball games or grilling out in the back yard. And for Ira, Jane wasn’t “grandmother.” She was “GM,” a nickname she invented herself.
“Most of all, she loved getting gussied up for special events because my Dad was the most handsome man in the world and she relished the opportunity to be his belle of the ball,” she said.
Golub said her parents’ love story included Neil getting Jane flowers every Monday, and Neil always having a skim milk latte waiting for Jane on office days — if he did not bring the drink to her himself.
“People would marvel at my parents’ social schedule which kept them busy six to seven nights a week for the past 50 years,” Golub said. “Mom presided over that schedule, relishing the evenings out with my father often in support of causes that were important to them and always in the company of good friends,” Golub added.
“And she was blessed with an abundance of friends.”
Contact Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 518-395-3124 or at [email protected]