Lifecycles | Obituaries

Obituary: Jerome Sonenblick

“Jerry” Jerome Sherwood Sonenblick, formerly of Tucson, passed away in Encinitas, California, on Sept. 8, 2019, after a protracted illness. He is survived by his daughter, Beth Blum and her husband, Howard, of San Diego, and their sons, Alex and Ty; his son Ando Sonenblick and his wife, Negin, of San Diego; his step-daughter Becky Poliakoff of Los Angeles; and his sister, Dee Dee Raskov of Sacramento, California.

Jerry was born in Chicago, Illinois, on July 22, 1931, to Fae and Ben Sonenblick. His family moved from Chicago to Tucson in 1948, however, Jerry remained in Chicago, independently, for his senior year of high school so he could graduate with his childhood friends. After Jerry graduated from Hyde Park High School in 1949, he joined his family in Tucson where he attended the University of Arizona. He achieved his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1953 and was a member of the Zeta Beta Tau (ZBT) fraternity. Jerry also earned his Doctor of Jurisprudence from the University of Arizona and became a member of the Arizona Bar in 1957.

Jerry was married for 28 years to Phyllis Rowley, beginning in 1961. Together they had three children, Beth, Chip, and Ando. Beth, a wonderful wife, and mother, raised two handsome, accomplished grandsons who made Jerry very happy and proud. Chip was a talented automotive engineer who sadly passed early at the age of 30. Ando is a successful software developer. Jerry was married a second time to Anita Burg. They met in 1987 and Jerry was blessed with Anita’s daughter, Becky Poliakoff. Becky was just 4 years old when Jerry and Anita met, and Jerry considered Becky his “adopted” child. Becky lost her biological father at age 15, and she and Jerry always had a very special relationship. Anita and Jerry were together 20 years, and although they parted 13 years ago, remained friends.

Jerry resided in Tucson for 60 years. He practiced law briefly and then found his passion, real estate development, including limited partnerships and joint ventures. His law background was certainly an asset. He was instrumental as one of the founders of Empire West, which became one of the largest real estate developers in the southwestern United States. He also started “Desert Angels,” an ongoing successful organization in Tucson, where he helped raise capital for various business ventures.

Jerry was an organizer and after many years away from his buddies at ZBT Fraternity, decided to get the group together again. They were older and lived in many different states, but their reunion turned into a successful annual event and brought much joy to the many who participated over the years. Jerry was responsible for their renewed friendships, and friendships between their wives.

Jerry had many interests and accomplishments. He was active in the Arizona Democratic Party for many years. He was very involved in Tucson’s Jewish community. You could often find him in the gym at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, and he was especially active with the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona (president in 1987). He attended, supported, and sponsored many events. He was also philanthropic with other Tucson community nonprofit organizations.

For many years he loved to play tennis and was athletic and fit. He was a talented public speaker. Jerry always said he would never retire and fulfilled a lifelong dream of writing,  authoring three novels. He was always embracing new technologies and stayed socially engaged and aware.

Jerry loved the ocean and spent many summers in Coronado, California, with family and friends. He always said he wanted to move to California, and his wish finally came true in 2018, when he moved to Encinitas and enjoyed living near his children.

Jerry was a character, unique, and a rebel! He often found unconventional ways to do things. He was a leader, innovative, creative, eccentric, opinionated, sentimental, and fun-loving! He loved adventure, world travel, and was very spontaneous. Most of all, Jerry will be remembered for his character, wit, wisdom, sense of humor, love of life, and love of family and friends.

Memorial donations may be made to
the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona,

3718 E. River Road, Tucson, AZ 85718