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Dorothy Harelik

Thursday, June 11, 2020
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Dorothy Harelik of Hamilton passed away June 6, 2020, at her long-time family home. At the time of her passing, Dorothy was the last Harelik and the last Jewish resident of Hamilton.

She was laid to rest in Waco Monday.

Dorothy was born in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn, New York, to Pauline and Sol Kempler on May 11, 1930.

“Our large apartment building was on the Boardwalk with entrances right onto the beach.”

Sol managed the Ashland Hotel which was and still is on 29th Street and Park Avenue South in Manhattan. Before marriage, Pauline was a professional milliner (hat designer) with a staff of 300, but upon her engagement to Sol, she was dismissed from her position, as her employer felt it was unseemly to professionally associate with a married woman.

Dorothy attended the City College of New York, Juilliard Academy as a piano major and the Jewish Theological Seminary. It was there that she began her lengthy association with the National Council of Rabbis, which ultimately brought her to Dallas, where she worked with Jewish youth groups and helped connect Rabbis with the smaller Jewish communities throughout the Southwest, sometimes finding them permanent congregations and sometimes providing itinerant services during the Jewish High Holy Days.

In 1971, mutual friends in the Texas Jewish community introduced Dorothy to a Hamiltonian by the name of Milton Harelik.

“Milton was a widower with 3 children and an 85-year-old father. How could I refuse such an offer?”

Milton and Dorothy married in October of 1972 at Temple Emanu-El (“God is with us”) in Dallas, and she joined the Hamilton Harelik family. Milton stated that “This began the happiest time of my life.” They were dedicated members of Congregation Agudeth Jacob (“The Tribe of Jacob”) of Waco and whenever possible they gathered there with fellow Hareliks and fellow Jews from all over Central Texas.

Dorothy and Milton were co-proprietors of Harelik’s Department Store in Hamilton, which was founded by Milton’s father Haskell Harelik in 1911. They retired and closed the family business in 1989.

Dorothy was passionately involved in the Hamilton community. She brought wit, intelligence, humor and insight to her work with the Economic Development Corporation, the wide work of the Hamilton Woman’s Council, the establishment of Pecan Creek Park, the resurrection of the Hamilton Public Library. She was recognized as Hamilton Citizen of the Year in 1991.

She hated cats, loved brightly colored sequined caps. Hated insincerity, loved lipstick. Hated idleness, loved giving gifts. Hated being the center of attention, loved shocking people. Loved teaching, loved learning, loved God, loved all religions, loved Hamilton.

Dorothy was preceded in death by her true love, Milton.

She is survived by her brother Harry Kempler of Washington, DC; Matt, Dawn and Alex Harelik of Amarillo, Texas; Marcia Harelik and Joe Medrano of Las Vegas, Nevada; and Mark, Spencer and Haskell Harelik of Los Angeles, California