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Finding Aids | The Breman Museum

Jewish Research and Education - Cuba Family Archives, Finding Aids

Dates: 1916-2006 

Creator: Wexler, William A. (1913-2000)

Summary/Abstract: Documents relating to former B’nai B’rith International President Dr. William A. Wexler (1913-2000) and his family.

Quantity/Physical Description:  1 linear foot

Language(s):  English

Repository:  The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Restrictions on Access:  There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Restrictions on Use:  Copyright restrictions may apply.  Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright.  Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation:  Box #, Folder #, Mss 342, William A. Wexler Family Papers, The Cuba Family Archives for Southern Jewish History, The William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum, 1440 Spring Street NW, Atlanta, Georgia 30309.

Acquisition: Gift of Col. Edward I. Wexler, 2006.

Custodial History: The William A. Wexler Family Papers are part of the Savannah Jewish Archives that were transferred from the Georgia Historical Society to the Breman Museum in 2015.

Separated Material:  Oversized materials, photographs, plaques.

Processed by: Heather Kirkland (2007) and Lindsay Resnick (2015). 

Arrangement:  The items have been kept in the original order in which they were found.

Biographical/Historical Note:  Dr. William A. “Bill” Wexler was a native of Toledo, Ohio, where he graduated from the University of Toledo. He later moved to Memphis, Tennessee to attend the Southern College of Optometry. He moved to Savannah, Georgia after marrying Dorothy Levy (1911-1969). Bill and Dorothy Wexler had three children; Dr. Allan Victor Wexler (1938-2006), Col. Edward Irwin Wexler (b. 1946), and Dr. Raymond H. Wexler (b. 1953).  He practiced optometry for over 30 years in Savannah. During those years he was a leader of many Jewish organizations including: B’nai B’rith, United Jewish Appeal, and the Savannah Jewish Federation. Most notably, he served as international president of B’nai B’rith from 1965 to 1971. He was an alderman known for his civil rights and humanitarian acts and was an informal advisor to several presidents, prime ministers, and religious leaders around the world. Also, in 1972, he became a founding member of both the “Democrats for Nixon” and the “National Jewish Committee for Nixon,” organizing and campaigning for the re-election of President Richard M. Nixon. After his term as President ended, he retired to Israel, where he married Dr. Osnat Itelson (b. 1939), an obstetrician and officer in the Israel Defense Forces. He had two children with his second wife, twins Tamir and Keren (b. 1974). He died in Israel on November 30, 2000.

Dorothy Levy Wexler was a native of Savannah, Georgia and was the first wife of Dr. William A. Wexler. She was very active with B’nai B’rith as well as other Jewish organizations, especially in the women’s clubs, divisions, and charters. Upon her death at age 58 in 1969, there were over 2,000 letters and telegrams of condolence received and B’nai B’rith created the Dorothy Levy Wexler Memorial Fund in her memory. Also in 1969, a new chapter of B’nai B’rith Girls (or BBG, a high school sorority for Jewish girls) was founded and named in her memory. The Dorothy L. Wexler Chapter merged with the Janet M. Clark Chapter of BBG sometime prior to 1993 becoming Wexler/Clark BBG #39.

Colonel Edward I. Wexler is a native of Savannah, Georgia. He is the son of William A. Wexler and Dorothy Wexler. He served in the Air Force for most of his life and in 1974 joined the 165th Airlift Wing as its first full-time Air Intelligence Officer. In 2000, he became the Human Resources Officer for Georgia. He married the former Mary Witt, an Air Force nurse, in 1967. Mary W. Wexler was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and later served as one of the first nurse practitioners in Savannah, as well as the deputy coroner for Chatham County. Together, Edward and Mary Wexler had three daughters. Mary Wexler died in Savannah on November 28, 2009, at the age of 61.

Scope and Content: The William A. Wexler family papers consist of correspondence, biographies, clippings, certificates, and a scrapbook, dating from 1916-2006.  The William A. Wexler papers document his involvement in B'nai B'rith International.  The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings as well as brochures, pamphlets, and other materials relating to William A. Wexler.

William A. Wexler and his wife, Dorothy, were very active in many areas of Jewish leadership as well as humanitarian and civil rights activism. The Savannah Jewish Archives does not hold many of the materials regarding those activities. Some examples would be the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League, William A. Wexler’s formal and informal advisory role to presidents and other world leaders and records regarding the Savannah Jewish Federation. There are also only a few records with information regarding his practice as an optometrist. Included in this collection are many certificates and other awards of merit given to William A. Wexler.

Papers regarding Dorothy Levy Wexler are largely summaries of her activities and not records created by her. All of the letters and telegrams that were received after her death are included in the collection. These items include condolence correspondence from such notable Israeli figures as Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Yaakov Herzog as well as the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, sitting Senators Herman Talmadge (D-GA) and Jacob Javits (R-NY), and influential rabbi Joachim Prinz.

Papers of Edward I. Wexler and his wife Mary Wexler make up a very small part of this collection. Material includes retirement ceremony pamphlets for both that contain brief biographies.

Collection Inventory

Box

File

Description

Date

1

1

Certificates of appreciation

1955-2001

1

2

Savannah Lodge No. 76 Centennial records

1860-1960

1

3

Savannah Lodge No. 76 Centennial correspondence

1960

1

4

General Correspondence

ca. 1963-1997

1

5

Correspondence re: Presidents’ Conference of Major Jewish Organizations

1969-1970

1

6

Miscellaneous newsletters

1865-1955

1

7

Remembrances and Obituaries

2000-2001

1

8

Savannah Lodge No. 76 Bulletin newsletter

1949-1964

1

9

Savannah Jewish News

1953-1970

1

10

Grand Lodge No. 5 Bulletin newsletter

1966-1969

1

11

Clippings

1967-1981

1

12

Anti-Defamation League The Record

1978

Box

File

Description

Date

2

1

Condolence telegrams regarding Dorothy L. Wexler

November 1969

2

2

Condolence telegrams regarding Dorothy L. Wexler

November 1969

2

3

Condolence telegrams regarding Dorothy L. Wexler

November 1969

2

4

Condolence letters regarding Dorothy L. Wexler (domestic and Israel)

Nov.-Dec. 1969

2

5

Condolence letters regarding Dorothy L. Wexler (international)

1969-1970

2

6

Eulogies for Dorothy L. Wexler

14 November 1969

2

7

Retirement ceremony programs for Edward I. and Mary W. Wexler (USAF)

2001-2006

2

8

Photocopies of plaques awarded to William A. Wexler

1958-1969

Box

File

Description

Date

3

1

B’nai B’rith “Bulletin”

May 1949

3

2

Mickve Israel “Contact”

March 1955

3

3

B’nai B’rith International Scrapbook

1967-1973

3

4

B’nai B’rith Scrapbook

1968

3

5

B’nai B’rith Scrapbook

1969

3

6

B’nai B’rith Scrapbook

1970

3

7

B’nai B’rith Scrapbook

1971

Box

File

Description

Date

4

1

Scrapbook (oversize)

1964-1966

Box

File

Description

Date

5

1

Scrapbook (oversize)

1937-1962

 

                                                         


 

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