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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:           BARBARA BALSER 

INTERVIEWER:      RUTH ZUCKERMAN

LOCATION:             ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                      JUNE 23, JULY 14, NOVEMBER 11, AND DECEMBER 9, 1988

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Barbara Balser was born in 1939 in New York to a Jewish mother and Catholic father. Her parents divorced soon after, and after a bout of scarlet fever young Barbara moved with her mother to Richmond, Virginia, to live with her maternal grandfather. While living with her grandparents Barbara briefly attended Catholic school, but when she was still young her mother remarried to a Jewish man, and since then Barbara has been involved with the Jewish community wherever she lives.

Barbara moved to Atlanta upon marrying Robert Friedland, a young businessman, and found being a married woman, as well as being a mother, very challenging. The couple had three children together before getting a divorce. While considering the divorce she sought the advice of Rabbi Richard Lehrman, with whom she formed a life-long friendship.

As a single mother, Barbara entered the work force and eventually took on work selling life insurance. She made a very good living in the life insurance business and also met Ron Balser, who she eventually married. Once married to Ron Balser Barbara took on responsibility for three more children, and so raised six children while continuing to work in insurance. Ron and Barbara Balser, along with two others, founded Management Compensation Group, and insurance sales company.

Throughout her life, Barbara was also involved with philanthropy and religion, becoming deeply involved with Temple Sinai and the local B’nai B’rith chapters, especially.

Scope of Interview

In this interview, conducted in four sessions over the course of 1988, Barbara Balser recounts her life story. Starting with some information on her mother and maternal grandparents lives, following into her eventful early childhood and upbringing in Richmond, Virginia, all the way through to her current life (at the time) as executive vice-president of Management Compensation Group. This includes her moving to Atlanta, her marriage and divorce with Robert Friedland, her career in life insurance sales, her remarriage to Ron Balser, her affinity for art collecting, and her long history of involvement with Temple Sinai.

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