In Memoriam: Palm Beachers who left us this season

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Each year at this time we bid farewell to familiar Palm Beach faces who have left us this season. Without exception, the people remembered here lived interesting, useful lives full of accomplishment, and many of them left lasting contributions to Palm Beach and South Florida.

May their memory be a blessing.

April 26

Erika Kirk

Erika Mattfeld Kirk with her children Claudia, Erik and Adriana.
Erika Mattfeld Kirk with her children Claudia, Erik and Adriana.

Erika Carola Mattfeld Kirk, first lady to Florida’s 36th governor, Claude Kirk Jr., died at 88.

Born in Bremen, Germany, she moved to Baden Baden, then to Zurich, Switzerland, where she met and married Carlos Eduardo Dolabella, a Brazilian actor. The marriage produced a daughter, but ended in divorce. Later, she met Kirk, then a businessman, who was later elected governor.

Claude and Erika Kirk were married later at The Breakers in Palm Beach. They moved their blended family of seven children to Palm Beach after Gov. Kirk completed his term in Tallahassee. The family eventually grew to include seven grandchildren.

Gov. Kirk died in 2011 at 85 and is buried in the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth. Mrs. Kirk lived independently until her last 15 months, when she became a resident of Lourdes Noreen McKean Residence in West Palm Beach. Mrs. Kirk will be interred next to her husband.

April 12

Helene Cummings Karp

Helene Karp
Helene Karp

Helene Cummings Karp, who dedicated her life to her family and supported a variety of charitable organizations, died at 92.

Mrs. Karp moved to Palm Beach from Chicago in 1970. She was a member of the Palm Beach Country Club, The Society of the Four Arts, Le Club International of Palm Beach, the Palm Beach Yacht Club, Club Colette and Le Chaine des Rotisseurs.

Mrs. Karp supported multiple charitable organizations, including the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the United Way of Palm Beach, the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach, the Center for Family Services, Food for the Poor, the Arthritis Foundation, Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Opportunity Inc., the Alzheimer’s Foundation and the Bell Society for Mental Health Foundation.

Mrs. Karp left behind four children, five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.

April 12

Joyce T. Yeckes

Joyce Yeckes
Joyce Yeckes

Joyce T. Yeckes, who loved to sing and did so before thousands of people over the years, died at 96.

Born Joyce Irene Terker in Brooklyn, and raised in Manhattan, she sang for the USO stateside during World War II and performed in many shows at the Nautilus Hotel in Atlantic Beach, where she met the love of her life, Arthur Yeckes. Artie and Joyce married in 1947. They moved to Forest Hills, New York ,and settled in Roslyn in 1952. Mrs. Yeckes also performed in many shows as the lead singer at Temple Beth Shalom in Roslyn where she and Artie were founding members. The couple moved to Florida in 1973, where they lived in the Royal Saxon, Old Port Cove, Admiral's Cove and ultimately, the Landmark. Arthur Yeckes died in 1993.

Mrs. Yeckes supported the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts, Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, and Temple Beth El.

Her favorite hobbies were shopping, driving fast in her Corvette and hosting people at her house. She was the matriarch of the family in the truest sense of the word. She is survived by two children, five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

April 9

Madonna Jean Lomench

Madonna Jean Lomench
Madonna Jean Lomench

Madonna Jean Lomench, who was passionate about the Yankees, traveling and her long career as a nurse, died at 80.

Born in South Amboy and raised in Matawan, New Jersey, Mrs. Lomench most recently lived in West Long Branch before moving to Palm Beach. After graduating from St. Mary’s High School, she attended St. Francis School of Nursing, earning her degree and title as a registered nurse. She then attended Upsala College, where she obtained a bachelor's and then on to Monmouth University, where she earned a master’s degree.

Mrs. Lomench enjoyed a long career in nursing.

She was married to Ira Lomench for 35 years. Outside her nursing career, Mrs. Lomench enjoyed playing tennis, skiing, was an avid reader, and loved to travel, with Paris as her favorite destination. She was a eucharistic minister and communicant at St. Edward Catholic Church. Her husband survives her, as do two brothers, two sisters and two stepdaughters.

 March 26

Patricia Blake McClintock Hilton

Patricia Hilton
Patricia Hilton

Patricia "Trish" Blake McClintock Hilton died at her home in Palm Beach. She was 82.

Growing up in Tulsa, Mrs. Hilton attended Holland Hall in Tulsa. She had an affinity for math and captained several of her school's sports teams. At 18, while accompanying her grandfather to the racetrack, she met her future husband, Conrad Nicholson "Nicky" Hilton Jr. They were married at the Plaza Hotel in New York City.

The marriage produced two sons and the family lived in Beverly Hills. In 1969, Nick died from heart failure. A widow at age 29, Mrs. Hilton moved her household, her Yorkshire terrier and two young boys to Palm Beach, where her mother and stepfather lived.

In the 1970s, Mrs. Hilton worked for “ABC Wide World of Sports” in their golf and football coverage. She also was introduced to backgammon and found love on the slopes of Sun Valley, Idaho, marrying Charles "Chuck" Faegre, an attorney from Minnesota. They lived in Wayzata, a suburb of Minneapolis. In the 1980s, the couple moved to Palm Beach, but divorced after eight years.

Mrs. Hilton remained a Palm Beach resident. She continued to work for charities such as the Society of the Four Arts, The United Way and the Boys and Girls Clubs of Palm Beach County.

March 22

George Robert Spencer

Col. Robert Spencer
Col. Robert Spencer

George Robert Spencer — “Bobby” to his friends — died at Trustbridge Hospice. He was 91. It had been his practice to spend a month in Palm Beach every winter since 1975.

He was born in Leicestershire, England, and was a cousin to Diana, Princess of Wales, and son of George and Barbara Spencer, and grandson of the sixth Earl Spencer, Lord Chamberlain to King George V.

He arrived in New York in 1940, where he attended St. Bernard’s School. He returned to England in December 1944. At St. Peter’s Court School, he evacuated from Kent to Devon when a fire destroyed the building killing several; Mr. Spencer joined bed sheets, threw them through the window, and escaped with several boys.

He then entered Eton College for five years before joining the army with a commission in the 11th Hussars, serving in Germany. Later he had the honor of being invited to be an usher at Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation in 1953.

He later worked for the Wine Spirit Co., in Aberdeen, Scotland, and in 1970 founded a riding school in Leicestershire.

March 18

Paul Browning Dickey Jr.

Paul Dickey Jr.
Paul Dickey Jr.

Paul Browning Dickey Jr., 94, a longtime resident of Palm Beach, and formerly of Greenwich, Connecticut, died at his Palm Beach home with his family by his side.

Known to his friends as "Brownie," Mr. Dickey was born in Pittsburgh and attended Palm Beach Day School, The Lawrenceville School and Shady Side Academy, before graduating from Trinity College in the class of 1951.

Mr. Dickey was a Korean War veteran who served in the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant aboard the destroyer USS Miller.

He married Lucile Ingham in Hyannis Port in 1956. They were married for 59 years and had four children. Mr. Dickey was a stockbroker for more than 40 years. He was particularly fond of sailing, and all things having to do with boats. Mr. Dickey was introduced to sailing by his mother and spent many summers in Hyannis Port learning to sail and race.

March 15

Ethel duPont Kinsella

Ethel Kinsella
Ethel Kinsella

Lifelong volunteer Ethel duPont Kinsella died at age 86.

Mrs. Kinsella loved to read, travel, garden, play tennis, golf, bike, swim, and she also was an avid bridge player.

She was a lifelong volunteer who served on the town's Architectural Commission; was president of the Garden Club of Palm Beach; and president of the Colonial Dames of America, Chapter XVII.

She was a member of the Bath and Tennis Club, the Everglades Club, and the Vicmead Hunt Club. She loved all animals, especially her dogs. She is survived by her two daughters, a grandson, two sisters and her faithful dog, Emma.

March 5

John W. Galiardo

Jack Galiardo
Jack Galiardo

John W. “Jack” Galiardo, 89, died from complications due to a stroke.

He was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, attended the University of Maryland, where he met Joan (née DeTurk), who would later become his wife of 62 years. He graduated in 1956. After service in the army, Mr. Galiardo received his degree from Columbia Law School in 1962.

He began his legal career at Dewey Ballantine in New York City, and later became assistant general counsel with E.R. Squibb & Sons in Princeton, N.J., where he and his wife raised their children and lived for 35 years. Mr. Galiardo became vice president and general counsel for Becton Dickinson & Co., where he later became vice chairman of the board. He served on various boards after retirement, including Project Hope, VISX, NJM Insurance, and Fairleigh Dickinson University.

He was a 60-year season ticket holder of the N.Y. Giants, an antique map collector, gardener, fisherman, voracious reader, grammarian, and consummate wordsmith. He is survived by his wife Joan, their five children and nine grandchildren.

March 2

Alan David Bleznak

Alan Bleznak
Alan Bleznak

Alan D. Bleznak, a builder, developer and principal of the Bleznak Organization, died in New Jersey. He was 91.

A graduate of the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania, Mr. Bleznak was a longstanding donor to philanthropic causes including the Jewish Federations of Philadelphia and Palm Beach, The Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, United Way, and Palm Beach Opera.

After the passing of his daughter Nancy in 1972, Alan and his first wife, Sally Cooper Bleznak, created Nancy’s House, a children’s play area at the Friends School Haverford. In 2003, Mr. Bleznak and his wife, Kathleen, established The Patient Facilitated Services Program at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

Mr. Bleznak was known for hosting dinner parties with Kathy and his longtime cook, Bertha Ashley. He also was an avid golfer, card player, and Philadelphia sports fan. He is survived by his wife, his son and daughter, his first wife, and two grandchildren.

Feb. 28

Patricia Ann Fix

Patricia Fix
Patricia Fix

Patricia Ann (Callahan) Fix died at her Palm Beach home. She was 91.

Mrs. Fix was born on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, one of five children born to her Irish immigrant parents. She graduated from the Madames of the Sacred Heart Academy Grammar School and the St. Ferrer High School in Manhattan. She met her future husband, Alfred Fix, when she was 16 and he was 18 in New York City. They married in 1951. On Jan. 27, 2023, they celebrated their 72nd wedding anniversary.

After their marriage, Mrs. Fix joined the New York Telephone Company as a supervisor for the famous "Butterfield 8" telephone exchange. After her husband got his degree in mechanical engineering from New York University, she retired to pursue a more fulfilling role — to build and nurture her new, loving family.

Mrs. Fix believed strongly in Christian values and respect for all people. She was a devout Catholic. After her husband retired, the couple moved to Palm Beach. Mrs. Fix loved Palm Beach and was active in the St. Edward Women's Guild.

Feb. 9

Diane (Goldman) Levey

Diane Levey
Diane Levey

Diane Levey died after a brief illness, two weeks shy of her 103rd birthday.

Born in New Haven, Connecticut, Mrs. Levey attended New Haven public schools and enrolled at Weylister Junior College and graduated in 1939, following which she began work in a law firm as a legal secretary where she met her future husband.

During the early years of their marriage, Mrs. Levey performed on stage. Through her life, her singing voice drew admiration, especially with her signature tune of “La Vie en Rose,” which she performed in English and French for her 102nd birthday.

She was the mother of Patricia Levey Lebow of Palm Beach and John Levey of Hobe Sound. After her children were grown, she earned a real estate license and went to work with her husband in the real estate company he founded, Levey, Miller, Maretz. Mrs. Levey spent her retirement years enjoying her family, friends, books and nature.

Feb. 6

Janet L. Gaston

Janet Gaston
Janet Gaston

Janet L. Gaston, formerly of Palm Beach, died at 101.

Once married to the late Frederick R. Peterson of Princeton, New Jersey, she had four stepchildren. She also had been married to the late George B. Gaston of Indianapolis.

Mrs. Gaston graduated from Notre Dame Academy in Boston and from there moved to New York City to be a Powers model and traveled abroad for Vogue and Harper's magazines.

Feb. 5

Lynn Glenn McAtee

 Lynn McAtee
Lynn McAtee

Lynn Glenn McAtee died at her Palm Beach home after a bout with cancer. She was 81.

Born on July 4, she grew up in Perrysburg, Ohio, and attended The Emma Willard School and Boston University.

Mrs. McAtee had a wide variety of interests and talents. Falling in love with Africa after a safari when she was 17, she worked with Operation Crossroads Africa, a Peace Corps project in Senegal, before moving to New York and taking a position with Time Life. She was the founder of Into Africa Inc, a high-end custom safari business for eastern and southern African countries, which she ran for more than a decade.

She became an artist after completing a five-year program in botanical art at the New York Botanical Gardens Art School. She was a long-time member of the boards of the Cancer Research Center and Joffrey Ballet in New York City and The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach, where she was on the Executive Committee and head of the Investment Committee.

She is survived by her husband of 26 years, Jack McAtee, three children and 14 grandchildren.

Feb. 4

Dr. Lucia T. Harvey

Trudy de Suiza
Trudy de Suiza

Dr. Lucia Trindade Harvey, a pioneer in correction of optic muscular conditions, died at age 87. One of 10 children born in Brazil to Antonio and Zeferina Trindade, she had a passion for learning from a young age and attended school in Rio de Janeiro.

Her professional journey started in 1961 when she graduated with a medical diploma from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. She pursued a sub-surgical specialty of correcting the misalignment of the eyes with fellowships in Barcelona, Spain and Paris, France. She began her career at the Rio de Janeiro state hospital.

In 1970, she met her future husband, Robert Harvey, while he was on vacation for Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. They fell in love and she moved to San Francisco to get married. Dr. Harvey became a board-certified ophthalmologist. The family moved to Palm Beach in 1983 and shortly after she commenced her career at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center.

Dr. Harvey was a woman of many interests and talents. She enjoyed traveling and was fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English. She found inner peace through yoga and expressed her musical talent by playing the piano. Dr. Harvey was a member of St. Edward Church and a regular at the Palm Beach Symphony.

She is survived by her husband, two children and two grandchildren.

Jan. 21

Fruema Klorfein

Fruema Klorfein
Fruema Klorfein

World traveler, community activist and longtime Palm Beach resident Fruema Klorfein died at 91.

She grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and graduated from Simmons College in Boston in 1952. She met her husband Dr. Elliot Harry Klorfein during a summer working at a hotel in New Hampshire. He became a urologist, who practiced in the Palm Beaches for more than 50 years. They traveled the world together, visiting 160 countries and all seven continents. She also got her real estate license and worked as a travel agent.

Mrs. Klorfein volunteered for many charities and committees, including the United Jewish Appeal and B'nai Brith. She was president of the local Hadassah chapter. She is survived by her three children, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: In Memoriam: Prominent Palm Beachers who died this season