Dr. Alberto Goldgaber
Dr. Alberto Goldgaber, 87, passed away peacefully on Friday, September 16, 2022, at age 87, in Newport News, VA. Beloved and devoted husband of 60 years to Berta Goldgaber, adored father of Eliane Freund (late Dr. Rabbi Richard), Arthur Goldgaber (Elizabeth); proud grandfather to Yoni, Eli, Ethan, Hannah; dear son of the late Fanny and the late Joseph Goldgaber; and brother of the late Fernando Goldgaber (Margarida). He was predeceased by his brother-in-law and sister-in-law, Moses Cudisevici and Esther Cudisevici.
Alberto was born in Niteroi, Brazil (across the bay from Rio de Janeiro) on November 12, 1934, and grew up in the city. His childhood was filled with adventures with neighborhood kids, one of whom was Berta’s late older brother, Moses. Berta’s family lived near Alberto’s, so they were friends throughout childhood. Alberto was a curious child who frequently got into mischief.
Alberto and Berta were engaged in 1961 after Alberto completed his medical training and Berta her librarian degree. The wedding was held in 1962 at the Great Synagogue in Rio de Janeiro, which still stands in the same spot today. They celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this past June.
Alberto graduated with honors from medical school in Brazil in 1958. He trained at Rochester General Hospital in Rochester, New York, for two years in the early sixties. He became disillusioned with the poor state of medicine upon his return to Brazil in 1963, prompting him to leave Brazil permanently and immigrate with his immediate family to St. Louis in 1970. Alberto and Berta lived in St. Louis for 49 years until they moved to Newport News, VA, in 2019.
In St. Louis, he practiced in the inner city after specializing in hematology —the study of blood disorders. He treated patients in these neighborhoods who suffered from sickle cell anemia. He felt a duty to serve the underserved Black community and was beloved for his efforts. He eventually entered private practice as an internist and practiced medicine until 2015, retiring at age 80. He was a great diagnostician and highly devoted to his patients. Over the years, when they would see him publicly in St. Louis, many would make a point of thanking him for saving their lives.
Alberto and Berta were longtime members of Bais Abraham Congregation in St. Louis, Missouri. Alberto loved the camaraderie of synagogue life, chanting beloved prayers and giving out lollipops to all the Bais Avraham Congregation children – all of whom he knew by name. In 2019, Alberto and Berta joined Rodeph Sholom Temple when they moved to Newport News.
Alberto decided to become an observant Jew later in life since his parents glorified Jewish culture and the Yiddish language when he was growing up, but Jewish practice was not emphasized. He and Berta deepened their religious practice after enrolling their children in a Jewish day school in St. Louis in 1970. They both loved the instant community they enjoyed after sending their children to a Jewish school and joining a synagogue, especially since they did not have immediate family close by after immigrating to the U.S.
Alberto and Berta were a formidable team and extremely devoted to one another, their children, family, and the communities where they lived during their sixty years of marriage. Despite his dementia, Alberto always recognized Berta, communicated with her in Portuguese, and greatly appreciated the loving care she provided until his dying day.
Alberto was funny, brilliant, driven, and meticulous. He had a facility for languages, speaking fluent Yiddish, Portuguese, English, and Spanish. He also had a deep, lifelong need to understand the atrocities of the Holocaust since so many of his maternal and paternal family members perished in Eastern Europe during World War II.
He loved music and played the harmonica, and he loved to sing classic Brazilian Carnival songs and classic American show tunes at family gatherings – belting the lyrics by heart. He had a deep knowledge of and love for classical music and loved attending performances at the Saint Louis Symphony performances during the years he and Berta lived there. In fact, they were symphony patrons. He was proud that he lived in a city with a world-class symphony. Over the years, he would look forward to meeting international soloists backstage after performances – many of whose recordings he possessed and listened to religiously at home.
His classical music and traditional cantorial record collections were his pride and joy. He loved playing beloved records for family and friends.
Another passion was running. He became an avid long-distance runner in midlife and ran the Boston Marathon twice. He also loved photographing and filming family and friends and was incredibly talented in both arenas.
As a person, Alberto had a positive and curious outlook on life, and it was infectious. He loved sharing funny stories and jokes with friends and relatives and regaling them with his talent for playing the harmonica. Alberto loved holidays and special occasion gatherings with family and friends. He was a fan of live opera and visiting art museums. He loved taking his grandchildren on outings to the St. Louis Zoo.
While not an avid traveler, a highlight was traveling to Israel – his only trip to the Holy Land to attend the bar mitzvah of his oldest grandson, Yoni, in 2000. He cherished visiting family in Brazil, especially when he and Berta were able to return for happy family occasions. Their last trip to Brazil was in 2007 to attend their nephew’s wedding.
Alberto also loved the dogs in the towns where he lived and always struck-up conversations with neighborhood pet owners in St. Louis and Newport News, forging great friendships.
A graveside service was held on Monday, September 19, at the Jewish Cemetery of the Virginia Peninsula, located at 1817 Kecoughtan Road, Hampton, Virginia. Shiva minyanim will be held on Monday, September 19 at 6:00 p.m.; Tuesday, September 20, Wednesday, September 21, and Thursday, September 22 at 7:00 p.m. at Rodef Sholom Temple, located at 401 City Center Blvd, Newport News, Virginia.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Rodef Sholom Temple, 401 City Center Blvd.,Newport News, VA 23606 (www.rodefsholomtemple.org/), or Bais Abraham Congregation-St. Louis, Missouri, 6910 Delmar Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63130 (www.baisabe.com/).
Arrangements are under the care of Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News, VA 23601.