William Loew, of Mt. Airy, MD, passed away on Friday, April 15th, 2022, at the age of 96. A Holocaust survivor, Mr. Loew was born in 1925 in Lwow, Poland (now Lviv, Ukraine). Many people remember the sounds and smells of their childhood, but few persist in recreating them the way William Loew did. After decades of working to recapture his memories of the aroma and flavor of his family’s honey wine, he finally succeeded, not only in developing a recipe but also in establishing a successful vineyard and winery.
Making wine had been in his families’ legacy, and in the chaos of WWII almost everything was lost. For severalgenerations in Poland, his immediate and extended family were leading honey wine (mead) producers. The Loew family was 80 people strong in 1939, when Nazi Germany invaded Poland. By 1941, when he was 14, the Jews of Lwow were forced into 2 ghettos and Loew was among 40 Jews put to work in a tar paper roofing factory. His 2 older brothers perished, and his mother was killed shortly after the liquidation of the ghetto. All the family wineries were also destroyed.
When the Jewish workers in the factory discovered that they were about to be deported, Loew escaped to a safehouse he learned about from a trusted friend. Seven others were also hiding there. When the house was no longer safe, they traversed the Tatra mountains by foot in the snow to ultimately reach Hungary where he joined the resistance as a courier. While on a mission, Loew was captured and ultimately sent to the Auschwitz Death Camp and later to the Flossenburg Concentration camp. On April 17, 1945, the camp prisoners were forced to march to Dachau, infamously known as a death march because so many died on the way. Loew was liberated on April 23,1945 by United States 3rd Army, the 99th Armored Division. His liberation was bittersweet, as he later learned he was the sole survivor of his family.
He made his way to the United States, became an electrical engineer, and worked for the Food and Drug Administration. William Loew married his beloved wife Lois (nee Hendrickson) in 1964. Loew’s passion was always with wine, and Lois joined him in fulfilling his dream to honor his family’s legacy of making wine. The couple’s energy and drive led them to establish the vineyard and winery. They were among the pioneers in winemaking in Maryland, and their enduring contributions helped to shape the wine industry. Their marriage was fruitful in more ways than one. They also built a beautiful family — 3 daughters and 8 grandchildren – and they will continue the legacy.
Loew is known for his strength, perseverance, and ability to look forward. After his liberation in 1945, he was bereft with having no surviving family members. In his own words, “I was young but still had to overcome the toll that those years had taken on my health. I had no money, I had no education, and no basis for beginning to live a normal life. I realized I had to concentrate on the elements that would restore my status of being a mensch. I had to repair the voids in me by looking into the future. I could not dwell on the miseries of my past. Thank God I was given the chance to succeed.”
He found joy in working hard and doing things well and taught his family to do the same. He approached every subject by studying the specific details, whether it was designing and building a tool or playing a game. Intensely competitive, he loved the sport of tennis, and he played regularly. He played chess for fun and bridge weekly for years. He baked a beautiful bread with a perfect crust, made the best pot of soup. Besides growing grapes, he also planted a vegetable garden every spring. He loved to see plants grow, it was always a sign of hope. His kind brown eyes seemed to twinkle when he smiled, and his charisma charmed every person he met.
He is survived by his beloved wife, Lois Loew (nee Hendrickson); children, Jennifer (Daniel) Mendelson, Amy (Stephen) Lipman, and Karen (Steven) Boden; and grandchildren, Rachel Lipman, Sophie Lipman, Alex Lipman, Claire Mendelson, Eliana Mendelson, Dora Mendelson, Carly Boden, and Michael Boden.
Services at Garden of Remembrance Memorial Park, 14321 Comus Road, Clarksburg, MD 20871, on Tuesday, April 19th, 2022 at a time to be determined. Please omit flowers. Contributions in his memory may be sent to Beth Sholom Congregation, 1011 North Market Street, Frederick, MD 21701 or U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, 100 Raoul Wallenberg Place, SW, Washington, DC 20024.