What a delight to be present when Eileen Warshaw received the well-deserved Margie Fenton Award at the Jewish Community Relations Council annual meeting on Jan. 5. It was also wonderful to see so many young people there in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Jewish Latino Teen Coalition. Margie Fenton, former director of the JCRC, is a legend and it behooves us to let the new generation of leadership learn some of the reasons why. As it says in the award named for her, “[it] recognizes an individual … who has made a significant impact on our community with sensitivity, vision, creativity, and caring …” That’s Margie.
Under Margie, the JCRC was a powerful force in getting Martin Luther King Jr. Day recognized in Arizona. Clarence Boykins, president of the Tucson Southern Arizona Black Chamber of Commerce and chair of the Martin Luther King Jr. March and Festival Celebration, calls her his hero. She also developed the annual Yom HaShoah Commemoration, the Project Isaiah food drive, interfaith missions to Israel and much more.
Margie was always accessible and receptive to her volunteers. Years ago, I was at a wedding in D.C. and was seated next to Sam Lewis, who had been the most beloved U.S. ambassador to Israel. I asked if he would consider giving a talk in Tucson. Not only did he say yes, but he’d be available in September, a few months away, when he’d be making a trip to Palm Springs. When the wedding ended, I called Margie at home. Could we do it? She didn’t hesitate. “Yes, dear, we’ll call it the first annual fall dinner of the JCRC,” she said, creating a new event on the spot.
I am sure others have similar stories.
I cried for two weeks when she retired.