Abraham (Abe) Besser was born Dec. 26, 1925, in a little town of Krzepice, Poland. A survivor of the Holocaust, he was the youngest of seven children to the parents of Rifka Rotbard Besser and Wolfe Hirsch Besser. His siblings were Hela Lask, Lola Klug, Sophie Scheinfeld and Blanch Snitzer, and two brothers Ario Besser and Myer Besser.
As the youngest of his family (16 years old), his father sent him to provide hard labor with the Nazis in lieu of his sisters being taken by them. Through several years of hard labor, including walking in the snow with no shoes, he rejoiced at looking up to find American planes dropping flyers, announcing that the Americans had landed.
A natural entrepreneur, Abe founded a cab company in Berlin to serve the American soldiers and he was able to immigrant to the United States when he was 24 years old. Upon arrival in New Orleans, he literally kissed the ground in thanks. Abe was sponsored by the Rosenthal Sheet Metal Company. He paid his debt back over three years and went to night school to learn English. Abe began his career by building apartment complexes and shopping centers throughout north Atlanta and developed much of north Fulton.
A well-known philanthropist in Atlanta with a deep love and devotion to Israel, he contributed to almost every Jewish organization, including the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta. Of his many philanthropic endeavors, he sponsored the Holocaust programming at The Breman Museum and was one of the founders of the Holocaust Memorial at Greenwood Cemetery. This memorial has been listed on the register of historical sites. Abe’s love and devotion to his family is well exhibited by the Besser Holocaust Memorial Garden on the premises of the Marcus Jewish Community Center. He planned and executed the outdoor memorial to the 6 million who perished in the Holocaust. He envisioned this memorial to his family and community as a living tribute for future generations to remember the Holocaust. He is also the benefactor of the Besser Gymnastics Pavilion at the MJCCA, as well as numerous programs at Jewish Family & Career Services.
He is preceded in death by his previous wives Caroline Gurin and Judy Adelman. Abe is survived by his loving and devoted wife Marlene Gelernter Besser; his nieces and nephews Morray and Susan Scheinfeld, Harry Scheinfeld (Janie), Regina Karp (Jerry), Isaac and Peggy Klug, Mark and Dr. Novy Scheinfeld, and Ronnie Scheinfeld; grand nieces and nephews Ryan and Jenna Scheinfeld, Alene Mosher, Nathan and Afton Scheinfeld, Emily Scheinfeld, Sheldon and Robin Karp, Lisa Karp Rose, Adam and Elissa Klug, Michael and Kate Klug, Bradley Klug and fiancée Jenna Sobel, ZoAnna and Marty Bock, Hanna and Keith Orland, Robert Scheinfeld, Kimberly and Isaac Jones, and Joanna and Steven Kelley; and 14 great grand nieces and nephews.
Abe is also survived by his stepchildren Spencer Gelernter, Denise Gelernter, Sidney and Michele Gelernter, and Andy and Margie Gelernter; and his six Gelernter grand-stepchildren Alex, Melanie, Kenzie, Marc, Lindsey and Eli.
Graveside services were held April 29 at Arlington Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to one of the Jewish organizations in Atlanta that meant so much to Abe. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.