Notable Relatives

1.    Katharine Graham (1917-2001)

  Publisher, Owner, CEO of Newsweek, & The Washington Post

Katharine Graham, the famed publisher and CEO of her family owned Washington Post and Newsweek was a direct descendant of mine, related to me on both her Grandfather and her Grandmother’s side. Her father Eugene Meyer who was born in Los Angeles in 1875 was Jewish and her Mother who was born in NYC in 1881 descended from German Lutherans. Apparently her parents weren’t particularly religious so the mixed marriage didn’t cause a lot of problems. In her autobiography she does discuss her family background and devotes some pages to their LA roots. However, since both her father and his sisters were raised in San Francisco and two of the sisters had married brothers who were Levi Strauss heirs (Levi’s), the Sterns, she was much closer to her San Francisco family. She even worked in San Francisco as a novice reporter before she married Phil Graham. Of course her Pulitzer Prize winning autobiography, “ Katharine Graham, Personal History” written in 1997, discusses this in detail. Her grandfather Mark Eugene Meyers known as Eugene came to Los Angeles from Strasbourg, France in 1861. He came from a distinguished Jewish family with roots going back many generations in Alsace-Lorraine France. It was a family that had many rabbis and civic leaders. When he arrived, Los Angeles was a dusty city of around 4500 people and only 250 Jews but he joined a small community of energetic and far thinking Western European Jews who set out to make their mark in this land of opportunity. And they succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They founded businesses, gained wealth, started families and contributed incredibly to the Jewish community and the city of Los Angeles. These men founded many of the still existing Jewish institutions in LA. They were literate, honest, and generous men. The same story reoccurred in city after city in the U.S.A.

At any rate, at first Eugene clerked in a general store S. Lazard, and after 3 years became a general partner in the store renamed “City of Paris”. In 1866 his 1st cousin Leon Loeb also from Strasbourg with the same distinguished Jewish background joined him in the store. Now the plot thickens, Leon Loeb was my great grandfather and his career in Los Angeles would be almost identical to Eugene Meyer’s. Within 10 years Eugene would take over the store completely and when he moved to San Francisco in 1884 Leon would become the owner of the “City of Paris” store. Also, Eugene represented the French government as council in LA, and again upon his departure Leon became French Council. A position he would hold until he resigned his post to protest the Dreyfus decision. Eugene and Leon’s personal life also took the same track. Both married into the Newmark family. Eugene married Harriet the daughter of Joseph the lay rabbi of Los Angeles and founder of the reform B’nai B’rith temple (now Wilshire Blvd. Temple) and Leon married Estelle Newmark the daughter of Harris and Sarah Newmark, Joseph’s Nephew and daughter. Now, besides being the 1st cousin of Eugene, Leon was also his great Nephew. 

Eugene Meyer (1842-1925) 1867 Grandfather of Katharine Graham

Harriet Newmark Meyer  (1851-1922) 1867 Grandmother of Katharine Graham

Now, I’ve somewhat explained how I’m related on her Grandfather’s side, but next we have her Grandmother Harriet Newmark.  In 1853 a young man named Harris Newmark arrived from Loebau Germany. His brother Joseph P. was here 1st in 1851 and his Uncle (the Lay rabbi) Joseph Newmark came in 1854. Harris lived with his Uncle and fell in love with his 1st cousin Sarah. They were my great great grandparents and were married in 1860. So, when Eugene married another daughter of Joseph Newmark’s, Harriet, he became both bother-in-law and 1st cousin to Harris. So, to sum up the maternal side, Katharine’s great grandfather Joseph Newmark was my great great great Grandfather.  Harris Newmark’s “ My Sixty Years In Southern California-1853-1913” mentions Eugene frequently. They were quite close and had many business dealings together.

I remember when I was an adolescent that I heard from my Grandmother Rose Loeb Levi that a cousin of mine was the owner of Newsweek, and that she corresponded with him. Since her father was Leon Loeb and her Grandparents were Harris and Sarah Newmark she obviously understood the relationships. My Aunt Elizabeth Levi Lissner who died this year in her One Hundredth year told me that when the Levi family were on their way to Europe in 1912 they visited (great) Aunt Harriet, the Eugene Meyers Sr., in New York and they had a grand house. She also told me that Eugene Meyer Jr. (Katherine’s father) was friendly with my great Uncles Joe and Edwin Loeb and he visited them at their law firm Loeb and Loeb. Her husband Louis Lissner was a partner at Loeb and Loeb and told her about the visits.

1a. Levi Strauss Family

 Because my last name is Levi, I get asked all the time if I’m related to the “Levi’s” jeans family, and my answer has been “no, because his first name was Levi.”  But in reality I am. All the complicated relationships mentioned above of Meyers, Newmarks, and Loebs also factored into the Levi Strauss connection. Eugene Sr. and Harriet Meyers’ daughters Elise and Rosalie both married Stern brothers (Sigmund and Abraham) who were the nephews of Levi Strauss, and since Strauss was a bachelor the Sterns, who managed his business, inherited the company. The business was passed through Sigmund and Rosalie, to their daughter, Elise, and her husband Walter Haas, and eventually their children and grandchildren. In fact, Robert D. Haas is chairman and CEO of Levi Strauss & Co. and is the great great grandnephew of Levi Strauss. There was interaction between the older Meyer, Stern family in San Francisco and their Los Angeles Newmark relatives. And, in fact, Rosalie “Ro” Meyer Stern was a very close friend of Dr. Leo Newmark in San Francisco.  I have no idea whether there have been any contemporary relationships between the descendants.

2.    Senator Barry Goldwater of Arizona (1909-1998)

 Republican Candidate for President 1964

Senator Barry Goldwater wearing a yarmulke with Dr. Moses Lehrman in 1971

The name Goldwater has been important in Politics and Mercantile affaires in the Western United States for over 150 years. They were Jewish brothers who left Poland in the 1830s for Paris and then London, and in 1850 their original name Goldwasser was anglicized to Goldwater. Michael (Big Mike) Goldwater married an English Jewess Sarah Nathan in 1851, and a year later in 1852, he and his brothers Joe (Little Joe), Julius and Gabriel embarked for California. They lived and had businesses in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, finally establishing a successful business in 1867 in the Arizona Territory, called J.Goldwater and Brother. Michael Goldwater was the Grandfather, and his son Baron (called Barry) was the father of Barry Goldwater the future Senator from Arizona. Michael was very active in the San Francisco Jewish community where he finally settled and died. In 1896, Mike’s sons Morris and Baron closed a store in Prescott, Arizona and opened M. Goldwater & Sons, which became a prestigious Phoenix store. After Mike’s death in 1903 both Morris and Baron married gentiles, but didn’t renounce Judiasm. Barry Goldwater, son of Baron worked in the family business, and then went on to a political career. He was the U.S. Senator from Arizona until 1964, when he ran for President of the United States (Republican) unsuccessfully against Lyndon Baines Johnson. Then, in 1968, he was re-elected to the Senate, from which he retired in 1987.

The Goldwater family is related to the Newmark family in several ways. To paraphrase from an article in the Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly, July, 1972 on Michael Goldwater and his early California associations; “In 1887 a marriage occurred which strengthened the ties between two of the largest and most distinguish Jewish families of the early west- the Newmarks and the Goldwaters. Earlier, Michael Goldwater’s brother Julius A. Goldwater had married Augusta Newmark the daughter of Nathan, an older brother of Harris Newmark. Augusta was also the first cousin of San Francisco physician Dr. Leo Newmark.  In Aug.1887, another daughter of Nathan’s Lydia Newmark married Marco Goldwater the son of another of Michael’s brothers, Gabriel. Attending the wedding to witness the marriage of their nephew, Marco, were Michael and Sarah Goldwater. Also, witnessing the wedding of their niece were Joseph P. and Augusta Newmark.

The Goldwater family has Christian and Jewish branches, and although Barry Goldwater was not of the Jewish branch of the family (his Mother was gentile), he maintained strong feelings of ethnicity. In 1964 he wrote in a letter, “ I have always been proud of my Jewish ancestry. My grandfather, Mike, who established the Goldwater stores in Arizona was very active in Jewish charitable organizations, and I believe it has been a great advantage to me to have inherited some of the characteristics which I think can fairly be associated with Jewish people. Congeniality, understanding, and warmth are traits that my grandfather and father (both Jewish) had in abundance. Their influence has been one of the most important factors in my own life.”

Although, I didn’t vote for him for President, I’m proud that my family is related to his.

3.   Kaspere Cohn

 Founder of Union Bank and Cedars/Sinai Medical Center

Kaspere Cohn, who was to found two famous Los Angeles institutions, Union Bank and Cedars of Lebanon Hospital and a California city, was the nephew of Harris Newmark. When he first arrived in Los Angeles in 1859 he was employed by Harris and he was sent to manage a store at the Fort Tejon Military Post. He was there until it closed as a result of the troops withdrawing because of the Civil War. Kasper remained in H. Newmark’s employ until he set up his own business at Red Bluff, Tehama County, in Northern California, where he continued until 1866. When he sold out in 1866 he was offered a partnership in H. Newmark & Company.  In 1873 he married Hulda Newmark the sister of M.A.Newmark, Harris Newmark’s nephew. Another example of pioneer Jewish families marrying within their own families.

In 1887 five men including Harris Newmark and Kaspere Cohn bought the Repetto Ranch that ran from downtown L.A. to Whittier. It was apportioned among the five in 1889. With the guidance of William Mullholland, the “Water Baron,” they set up the town of Newmark and sold lots. The entire settlement was called Montebello, and in 1920 the Newmark name was dropped and the town was called Montebello. (Which as a descendant saddens me)

Kaspere became a successful banker when he started in the 1890’s acting as an unofficial banker to Basque sheepherders, and in 1914 formalized his business by founding Kaspere Cohn Commercial & Savings Bank. The name was changed to Union Bank & Trust in 1918, and shortened to Union Bank 1958. In recent years the bank has merged with several other banks to become Union Bank of California. (I remember when I was a child that my family would discuss “the bank” and Ben Meyer who was a son-in-law of Kaspere’s and the President of Union Bank. I also knew the Hahns whose father Herman I thought was associated with Union Bank. What I didn’t know was that they were all related and owned the bank)!

The First Building of Kasper Cohn Hospital (later Cedars-Sinai Medical Center) on Carroll St.

Perhaps, the greatest achievement of Kaspere’s was the founding of Kaspere Cohn Hospital in 1902 to meet the health needs of a growing community. It was located on the East side of L.A on Carroll St. In 1910, the hospital was moved to a 50 bed facility on Stephenson Ave. (Whittier Ave.), and in 1920 the family asked for the name to be changed. In 1930, Cedars of Lebanon Hospital moved to Fountain Ave in Hollywood. Then, after years of study, in 1961 merged with Mount Sinai Hospital to become Cedars-Sinai Hospital at the Beverly Blvd, location, and its present location. A larger hospital was needed, and construction began in 1971: the first patients were admitted in 1976 to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. The center is rated one the greatest hospitals in the United States both for patient care, and its teaching and research.

Just a few comments, during the 1950’s and 60’s my father John Newmark Levi Sr. was on the Cedars board as Vice President and Treasurer. At the time, the hospital didn’t have as many professional administrators as now and there were Doctors running it, e.g. Dr. Leon “Red” Krohn, and Dr. Leo Rigler, My dad was there practically every day after working at the Mill (Capitol Milling Co), particularly when he was Treasurer of the hospital. He was on the board when they decided to move west and merge with Sinai. Stanford Research Institute in Palo Alto was hired to do a study, and they determined that the Jewish community was moving West, and even to the Valley. They didn’t want to relocate to the San Fernando Valley, and UCLA and St. Johns were established hospitals on the West side, thus, they decided to merge with Mt. Sinai. Sinai wasn’t that large, thus it took years and many dollars to finally open the facility as Cedars-Sinai. The merger was also the merging of the early Jewish pioneer families and established physicians (Cedars) with the newly arrived post war Jews and younger doctors (Sinai). My Dad was sick in the early 70’s and died in 1973 at 67 years, so I think his connection with the “new” Cedars was negligible.


 By Leo Newmark, M.D.

Dr. Leo Newmark (Pioneer Neurologist of the West), (1861-1943)


Dr. Leo Newmark who wrote “California Family Newmark An Intimate History” was the son of J.P. Newmark and nephew of Harris Newmark.His father arrived in San Francisco.from Loebau, Germany in 1851 and then moved to Los Angeles. He was joined in Los Angeles by his younger brother Harris and later his Uncle Joseph and his family. Then, J.P. moved back to San Francisco where Leo was born in 1861. The book begins by discussing the family origins in Europe. Leo’s great Grandfather was Reb Meyer and Reb Meyer’s father was Rabbi Abraham, rabbi and dayyan (judge) of Brodnik, Poland and a Chassid. The time period was probably the early 1700s. I thought this was interesting because my great grandfather Leon Loeb who married into the Newmark family came from a distinguished family in Alsace Lorraine that numbered many rabbis.

It was apparent right away that Leo was brilliant. Upon his graduation from Grammar School in 1872 he received a medal for scholarship, and in 1977 he graduated from Boy’s High School in San Francisco at 16. After one semester at University of California Berkeley, he left for Germany, where he enrolled at a school to study languages- Latin, Greek, German and French. After an extensive classical training in Berlin, he entered the University of Strasbourg where he obtained his M.D. Following this he studied Neurology at French, German, and English hospitals and clinics, finally returning to San Francisco after an absence of 12 years. In 1890 he was licensed to practice medicine in California.

Leo’s reminiscences were written between 1927-1934 and weren’t necessarily for publication, but his niece Mrs. Howard Lewin told the editors Will Kramer and Norton Stern, who were interviewing her about their existence in 1967. The 2 men recognized the value of his biographical and historical writings and co-edited this book.

The book begins by discussing the family origins in Europe, and then the family’s arrival in America and eventual residency in California. It elaborates on his father’s and Uncle’s businesses, and Leo’s career as a distinguished Doctor and medical consultant. He was the first Neurologist in Cal. The book ends with his loving and insightful description of his family and their servants.

Leo was a medical figure of considerable standing in San Francisco. He started the first Neurology Dept. in the West at San Francisco Polyclinic, gave lectures at University of California Berkeley medical school, consulted in Neurology and wrote numerous articles for medical journals. His intellectual interests were broad and varied. He read biographies, histories, American and British Literature, the old and new testament. He had an intense love for language andwas fluent in five languages. After he retired he learned or studied: Arabic, Hebrew, Turkish, Sanskrit, and Ethiopic. He was very close to his family and even though his brother and sisters moved to Los Angeles, he visited them frequently. He had many close friends in San Francisco and among them was Mrs. Sigmund Stern (Levi Strauss) granddaughter of Joseph Newmark his great Uncle  (and my great-great-great grandfather.) According to the editors “he was a wonderful person to know. He was brilliant, witty, imaginative, possesed a great since of humor, and was a fine conversationalist. He was polite and even courtly in his manner. Most importantly, he left this journal with his insightful description of an important California family, the Newmarks, and the sociological forces which shaped them and other early California pioneers.”

5. Marco Newmark (1878-1959)

 Home-Town Historian

In 1878, a son was born to Harris and Sara Newmark, in Los Angeles, at their residence 127 Fort Street (Broadway). The son Marco was to follow in his father’s footsteps as a merchant and historian in L.A. Marco was raised in comfort and an important heritage in Los Angeles history. He was aware that his Father, Uncle, and Grandfather had played an important role in the building of Los Angeles from a dusty pueblo when they arrived to a modern California city. The first Newmark in Los Angeles was J.P. Newmark his Uncle in 1851, the second his father Harris in 1853, and the thirdhis great uncle and also his grandfather Joseph Newmark in 1854. Marco was motivated to participate in civic and business affairs by the role model set by his grandfather Joseph, the lay rabbi of L.A. and the knowledge that his father Harris was an important civic and business figure in L.A.

He attended local public schools, Los Angeles High, like the rest of his family, and then also like the other 2nd generation Newmarks went on to The University of California Berkeley where he majored in Philosophy and received his B.A. in 1902. He furthered his education by taking classes at Dr. Sax’s School in New York and attending The University of Berlin where he graduated in Philosophy and Political Economy. He left Europe and returned to Los Angeles to work in the wholesale grocery business that his father established in 1856. His older brother, Maurice, born in 1859, had also been sent to Europe for his education, and eventually took over management of his father’s commercial interests and joined him in many of his civic activities.

In 1906 Marco married Constance Meyberg daughter of a prominent Los Angeles Jewish businessman Max Meyberg. When Maurice died in 1929, Marco became president of the firm. He and Maurice co-edited their father’s “ My Sixty Years in Southern California” and prepared it for publication in 1916. After sales of the 1st edition were “sold out” the brothers co-edited a second edition in 1926. In 1930, Marco edited the third edition alone. In 1929 he and Maurice co-edited the Los Angeles Census of 1850, an important historical document.

During his lifetime Marco was a successful businessman, but at heart he was an historian and philosopher and wrote many articles on the history of Los Angeles, its pioneer merchants, clubs, and occupations. These articles were published in: The Historical Society of Southern California Quarterly, The Jewish Merchant, the Masonic Digest, and in the Jewish press. Many of these articles were compiled and used in his book “ Jottings In Southern California” published in 1955. After reading the book, my only regret is that I wished he had written a section about himself and his family. The family history seems to have stopped in 1913 with his uncle’s book.

Marco was not just a historian-merchant but an active member and leader in the community. He was a Zionist, and President of the LA ZOA. In 1921 he chaired a banquet for Chaim Weizman. From 1933 to 1938 he was President of The Federation of Jewish Welfare Organizations. He was President of the B’nai B’rith Lodge # 48. He was on the board of The Jewish Home For Aging, and honorary secretary for the Vista Del Mar orphanage. For years he provided the New Years day dinner for the children’s orphanage, he was a 3rd degree mason and held office as Master of Westgate Lodge No. 335 in 1936. He was a Schriner. He edited his Lodge bulletin for many years and served as librarian of the Scottish Rite Library.

Marco was President of the Historical Society of Southern California from 1940-43,, and a director for many years, the 1st Jew, and from 1952-56 was the curator. A few of the other organizational and community posts he held were: President of The Midnight Mission, member of Los Angeles Grand Jury in 1934, director of the Los Angeles Fiesta Association, president of the Los Angeles Produce Exchange, a director of the Merchants and Manufacturers Association Vice President of the National Wholesale Grocers’ Association, a director of the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce

When the Southern California Jewish Society was founded in 1952, he suggested that there should be a regional Jewish historical magazine. Belatedly, sixteen years later the Western States Jewish Historical Quarterly was published, and the first issue was dedicated to Marco.

Marco’s life was admirable. He was charitable, civically involved, a successful businessman, devoted to Los Angeles, a student and a scholar. One just had to look at all he accomplished and be amazed at his productivity.

I met Marco a few times at family functions but really didn’t know him, as he was part of my grandparent’s generation. I’m sure my Dad knew him fairly well. My parents were friendly with his son Harris (Nick) Newmark, who was a V.P. of RCA, and later a stockbroker with Dean Witter Reynolds Inc. I was quite friendly with Nick’s first wife Dorothy and I used to be at their house on Comstock in Westwood often because I gave Dorothy private art lessons in the late 50s. Also, I had many long conversations with their daughter Margo who was a few years younger than I. Their son Nicky (Harris 3rd), who is now a Radiologist, was much younger and I only saw him a few times at the house. Margo married Arthur Rosenbaum an artist and he is now an Art Professor at The University of Georgia at Athens. Dorothy and Nick divorced, and Dorothy married Charlie Maddox a prominent sculptor. They moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where Charlie had a position as a sculpture Professor. I spent a few weeks in New Mexico in the mid-1990s, and visited them at their charming Albuquerque house. On my last day, before flying back to LA, I had breakfast with Charlie at his favorite diner. We went to see his studio that was located on the New Mexico campus in the sculpture complex named after him, The Maddox Building. He seemed like a great guy and very interesting, Dorothy was lucky.

There are some well-known American Jewish families that are not related by blood but marriage to my immediate family and they are:

The Rosenwald Family (Sears Roebuck)

Mother 68, and Joe 77 in 1977

My father John Newmark Levi Sr. passed away in 1973 at 67. My mother who was only 63 at the time, after dating for several years married Dr.Joseph Harris in 1980. Joe was a retired prominent Obstetrician/Gynecologist in Beverly Hills. He and his wife Eleanor (Rosenwald) Harris, whose family developed Sears Roebuck into a national institution and were famed for their philanthropy, were friends of my parents. Around the same time that my Dad died Eleanor also died from cancer. My mother and Joe had known each other for years as both families traveled in the same social circle and saw each frequently.

Joe was famous for one event. He was Lucile Ball’s Obstetrician and when she became pregnant with Desi Jr. she didn’t know what to do about being on her show “I Love Lucy”.  So, he suggested she could be pregnant on the show with “Little Ricky” and show the pregnancy.  The whole country was watching and in the scene where her water breaks someone says  “ call Dr. Harris”. That was Joe and he did deliver Desi Jr. at Cedars of Lebanon.

They had a very comfortable and leisurely life. For most of the year they lived in his house in Rancho Mirage next to the Tamarisk Country Club. In the summer they leased his condo in Westwood, and lived in my mom’s place in Century City across from Hillcrest Country Club where they were members. My father had been a founding member. Joe was a lovely, sweet and intelligent person and they seemed to be very comfortable with each other. He seemed much liked my Father, and Mom said they got along very well and he was easy to live with. I was teaching in LA but I always stayed with them in Palm Springs at Thanksgiving and also in late May, and in the summer saw them frequently in Los Angeles. They had great food and the best cooks! They had to let Alan go and he ended up being the Gerald Ford’s Chef. Jules who was French Canadian and came to America especially to work for Joe was their last cook, and he was great.

From what I could gather Eleanor and Joe lived very well on his income and her substantial trust. This enabled Joe, unlike most Doctors to retire in his 60’s. Apparently, he still lived on that combined income doing his lifetime. He died in the mid 1980’s at 87. My Mother returned to Century City where she still lives at 94. In her building in Century City there were other Rosenwald cousins Richard and Lucy Rosenwald.

Ironically, my Mom and Dad were close friends with Julia and John Michaels who lived in Chicago and Palm Springs. She was Julia Spiegel of Spiegel Catalogue, the competitor of Sears Roebuck!

The Zellerbach Family (Crown-Zellerbach)

My cousin Steve Loew Jr.whose grandfather Jacob founded the Capital Milling Co. and whose family ran the Mill with mine the Levi’s married Rollinda Zellerbach. Rollie is the daughter of Harold Zellerbach (1894-1978) the paper company executive and Crown-Zellerbach president (1928-69) who lived in the San Francisco area.  Crown-Zellerbach merged with other companies quite a while ago, so their name is not as familiar now. However their name is still important in the San Francisco Bay area and Philadelphia, Pa; there is the Crown Zellerbach Building (Skidmore, Owens and Mayer) in San Francisco, The Zellerbach Theatre in Philadelphia, PA., Zellerbach Hall for music at UCBerkeley, and the Zellerbach Family Foundation in San Francisco.

As mentioned the Loews were the other owners of the Mill. Jacob Loew who had married a Harris Newmark daughter, Emily, had been President of the Mill until his death in 1921. Then his nephew, Herman Levi became president. Herman had married Rose Loeb the Granddaughter of Harris Newmark. Thus the Loews and Levi’s were doubly related. After my Grandfather Herman died in 1945, Steve Loew Sr. became President with my Dad as Vice President. My Dad died before Steve retired, so his son Steve Loew Jr.became President and he was succeeded upon his demise by Doug Levi my first cousin. Because of the Mill all the Levi’s and Loews were great friends. I can only relate my experience, but my parents John and Aimee Levi were social friends, as well as business, with Rollie and Steve Jr. On Xmas when I was a child we would go over to their house on Club View in Westwood. They had two daughters Susie and Lindy but they were much younger than I and attended schools on the West side.

The families were also close because we were Steve Loew Sr’s neighbors. My parents had sold our house in Hancock Park and we  moved to Westwood and living right next door were Lucille and Steve Loew. So, we saw them all the time. Steve’s other sons Jack and Bobby Loew (Rita) were also frequent visitors, and were a lot of fun. They were all much older than I and their children were much younger.

 Ironically, Susan Loew married Steve Wilson whose family owned Wilson Paper Co., but they’re divorced and I don’t think the business exists under the same name anymore.