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Jewish Heritage: The Oral Histories - Cuba Family Archives

MEMOIRIST:           ALFRED GARBER

INTERVIEWER:       LILA BETH YOUNG

LOCATION:             ATLANTA, GEORGIA

DATE:                      NOVEMBER 1, 1989

Transcript (PDF)

BIOGRAPHY

Alfred “Al” Garber was the son of Elias “Eli” Garber and Rosa Gershon Garber, Russian immigrants who arrived in the United States in the early 1900’s. His father was an optician and a grocer. After his father died in 1922 and his mother contracted tuberculosis, he spent his remaining childhood years in the Hebrew Orphans' Home in Atlanta, along with his sisters Freda Garber Goldstein Karp and Janet Garber Nadel. He was a graduate of Boys’ High School in Atlanta and the University of Georgia in Athens. He was a CPA who co-founded Young & Garber. He was a philanthropist who was a leader in the Atlanta Jewish Community Center, the Standard Club, Ahavath Achim Congregation and the Temple. He was president of the Jewish Children’s Service which began as the Hebrew Orphans’ Home, and president of the Mayfair Club. He founded the City of Hope Foundation in memory of his son Eliot to aid sick children. He and his wife Geraldine “Gerry” Cohen Garber were the parents of Eliot J. Garber, Stephen William Garber and Richard Garber.

Scope of Interview:

Alfred begins by saying his parents immigrated from Russia and Poland and settled in Atlanta before he was born in 1910. Alfred talks about his mother contracting tuberculosis when he was eight years old and going to a sanitarium in Asheville, North Carolina where she remained throughout his childhood. He says he was placed in the Hebrew Orphans’ Home in Atlanta after his father died in 1921. He discusses residing in the Home until graduating from Boys’ High School in 1928.

He talks about the origin of the Home, describes the facility in detail, and recalls the years he spent there. He discusses the strict daily routine at the Home. He remembers several people who staffed the Home: Feist M. Strauss, Gussie Jackson, and Mr. Guttenheimer. He talks about the Home closing in the 1930’s and the eventual redirection of the Home’s endowment to fund the Jewish Educational Loan Fund (JELF) which loans money to needy college students. He recalls attending a reunion in 1969 with other former residents of the Hebrew Orphans’ Home. He mentions several of those who attended.

He mentions attending High Holy Day services at The Temple when he lived at the Hebrew Orphans’ Home, where he was called to the Torah as a bar mitzvah. He says he had no experience with antisemitism in college or at work with one exception. He recalls declining an invitation from Bill Bowden, chairman of Trust Company, to be a guest at the Cloister in Sea Island, Georgia. He explains that Jews were not allowed to stay at the Cloister.

He tells about the Hal Hirsch Scholarship and financial help from Joseph Loewus that allowed him to attend the University of Georgia (UGA) and obtain a degree in accounting. He discusses his career as an accounting professional. He talks about Herbert Haas helping him land his first job at Harvey H. Hunt. He talks about leaving this firm to co-found Young and Garber with his partner Harold Sykes Young. He relates how Young and his wife died in the plane crash at Orly field in 1962 during which120 Atlanta residents died.

He mentions his community and philanthropic activities. He says he served on the board of the Hebrew Orphans’ Home, was president of the Jewish Children’s Service which began as the Hebrew Orphans’ Home and was president of the Mayfair Club. He mentions being honored for his activities at the City of Hope.

He tells about meeting his wife Gerry when they were students at UGA. He discusses their courtship, wedding, and fiftieth wedding anniversary celebration. He talks about the connections of his two sons with Jewish organizations, especially his son Stephen and daughter-in-law Marianne. He mentions his visits to Israel and his support for Israel. He gives his opinion on the “who is a Jew” issue in Israel and in the Jewish-American community.

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