Dorothy Silk, age 90, of East Lansing, died Monday, January 3, 2011.  She was born in South Bend, Indiana, on May 9, 1920, the daughter of Charles Roth and Lena Mentzel Roth.

She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1941 with a degree in economics and then worked in Washington, D.C., as an economist for the War Production Board. She returned to South Bend and married Leonard Silk on Thanksgiving Day, 1942. They were married for 59 years until Leonard’s death in 2002. Their sons, Spencer and Jim, were born in South Bend. The family moved to Lansing, Michigan, in 1955 and to East Lansing in 1959. She worked for many years as coordinator of volunteer services for the Lansing Public Schools.

Throughout her life, she was involved in volunteer work for the communities and causes that were important to her and, well into her 80s, played leadership roles in many organizations. In 2008, she was an honoree of “Eight Over Eighty,” an annual event sponsored by Jewish Senior Life of Metropolitan Detroit recognizing eight distinguished people over eighty who have shown dedication to the Jewish value of Tikkun Olam, “repairing the world.” She was active in Hadassah, the Greater Lansing Jewish Welfare Federation, and Congregation Shaarey Zedek of East Lansing. In 1996, the Lansing Jewish Federation honored her as a “Driving Force Behind Federation Endeavors.” She was active in the Michigan Jewish Conference, which serves the political and community relations needs of the state’s Jewish community. She was one of three women of different religions who started the Lansing Interfaith Council in 1970 to bring together people of different faiths to fight racial prejudice. The Annual Inter-Faith Day, a program of fellowship and discussion, grew to attract more than 200 people a year. Although a loyal graduate of the U of M, she volunteered and served in leadership positions for programs at Michigan State University.  She was a member of the Board of Directors of Friends of Theatre at MSU. For many years, she was Coordinator of MSU Evening College’s “Brush up and Brunch,” a popular speaker series featuring well-known artists and scholars.  She served as President of the Liberal Arts Dean’s Community Council and was active with the Friends of Kresge Art Museum and the Inner Circle of the Wharton Center for Performing Arts.  She was also a member of the Board of the Michigan Nonprofit Association.  She was honored by the Michigan Historical Museum for her efforts, with four others, to create the Docent Steering Committee.  She was a director of the W.B. and Candace Thoman Foundation, which supports educational programs in the Lansing area and MSU students from developing nations.  She was a member of the Women’s Club of Lansing. She balanced her deep commitment to Jewish and community concerns, the arts and social justice with deep commitment to her family. She was a proud and caring wife, mother and grandmother and an accomplished cook.  She loved traveling with her husband.

She is survived by her sons and daughters-in-law, Spencer A. and Beverly Silk of Bloomfield Hills and James J. and Jean V. Silk of New Haven, Connecticut, and her grandchildren, Stephanie, Jonah, Stephen and Kira.

Funeral services will be held at 2:00 p.m. on Thursday, January 6, 2011 at Congregation Shaarey Zedek, 1924 Coolidge Road, East Lansing, with Rabbi Amy Bigman presiding.  Burial will be at Evergreen Cemetery in Lansing.  Memorial contributions may be made to Hillel of MSU, the Greater Lansing Jewish Welfare Federation or Kresge Art Museum. Arrangements by Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel.

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8 Messages to “Dorothy M. Silk”

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  1. 8
    William Molner Says:

    I was saddened to learn of the loss of one of the greatest women in the Lansing area–one who gave selflessly of her time, energy, and passion to support many wonderful organizations in our area. I had the pleasure of working with Dorothy as a board member of the Greater Lansing Jewish Welfare Federation. But I also knew well of her myriad other contributions to the arts and learning. Dorothy, you made a difference! Your work will live on. And we are all the richer for it. Thank you Dorothy for leading an exemplary life.

  2. 7
    Louise Ellen Cooley Says:

    Dorothy Silk was a long-time devoted volunteer coordinator of the MSU Alumni Association’s Evening College “Brush Up and Brunch” faculty speaker series. She was an outstanding model of an MSU friend, volunteer, and lifelong education advocate, investing her time, talent, and sharing her vast network at MSU and within the community for the benefit of Michigan State University’s lifelong learners. Her creative endeavors, dedication, and love for MSU and the MSUAA Evening College was a delight and we had the joy of working with her for many years until she retired from her Evening College volunteer position at age 88. She was a great role model for all of us.
    Louise Cooley,
    Director MSUAA Alumni Lifelong Education/Evening College.

  3. 6
    Jenny Enzer Says:

    Both Dorothy and Lenard Silk have been such positive bright influences on my life. Dorothy showed vigor and a true delight for life that always brought a smile and made me gravitate towards her.

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