Obituary: Penny Bowman
ObituaryHolocaust Survivor

Obituary: Penny Bowman

A Holocaust survivor from Romania, she died on the 71st anniversary of her marriage to an American soldier.

Penina “Penny” Weisz Bowman, age 90, of Dunwoody passed away Thursday, March 30, 2018, Erev Pesach. She joined her late husband, Harold, for eternity on what would have been their 71st wedding anniversary.

Survivors include her daughter and son-in-law Leora and Herb Wollner; son Allan Bowman; daughter Deborah Bowman; grandchildren Matthew and Barbra Wollner, Robert and Jill Wollner, and Mollie Bowman; great-grandchildren Hudson and Tessa Wollner and Eloise and Oliver Wollner; brother-in-law Zvi Baer; and many nieces and nephews in the United States and in Israel. She was predeceased by her beloved husband of 61 years, Harold, as well as her siblings, Yaffa, Miriam and Mordecai, who all survived the Holocaust.

Penny was born in Cluj, Romania, on April 19, 1927. In May 1944 her family was transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Penina survived six months in Auschwitz and six months in Mahrisch-Weisswasser, where she worked as a slave laborer in an electronics factory until the end of the war. She was fortunate to remain together with her two sisters, but she lost 42 members of her family in the Shoah, including her mother and father.

Penina Bowman

After the war, Penina and her sister Miriam joined a youth group that traveled from one displaced persons camp to another, each time getting closer to the Mediterranean, where they were hoping to board a ship and travel to Palestine. One of the stops was Salzburg, Austria, where Penina met her future husband, Harold Bowman, who was stationed nearby with the American Army. Because they had no language in common, they needed an interpreter until Penina learned enough Hebrew to communicate.

They knew each other for six months when Harold went back to the United States to be discharged from the Army. Upon parting, Harold gave Penina his Magen David necklace, which he received for his bar mitzvah, and a package that contained 3 yards of silk parachute fabric, which he told her to use for her wedding dress. That’s how Penina found out she was engaged. To prevent the seizure of the fabric, she basted it under the lining of her coat.

Harold, a Chicago native, applied to study at the Technion in Haifa on the GI Bill and waited for her to reach Palestine. Finally, 18 months from the time they met, they married in Binyamina on March 30, 1947. She wore the dress that she had hand-sewn from the parachute silk. The dress now hangs on permanent display at the William Breman Jewish Heritage and Holocaust Museum, Penny’s gift to her adopted community of Atlanta.

Her many hobbies included gardening, reading, playing mah-jongg, cooking, baking, needlepointing, sewing, knitting and bowling. She was involved in many Jewish and civic organizations throughout her life in Chicago, Clearwater, Fla., Houston and finally Atlanta. She and Harold moved here in 1993 to be near their children and grandchildren, who loved to spend time with them.

Penny dedicated much of her life to sharing her story by speaking to thousands of students and adults. She was frequently asked how she could relive the atrocities of the Holocaust, and she would answer with the following statement: “I would live a life in equilibrium. I would remember my past and keep it alive so that future generations would not allow another Holocaust to happen anywhere in the world. But, at the same time, I would live each day to the fullest and enjoy life and try to be happy.”

Sign the online guestbook at In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the Breman Museum, Congregation Etz Chaim and the Epstein School. A graveside service was held Monday, April 2, at Arlington Memorial Park with Rabbi Shalom Lewis officiating. Arrangements by Dressler’s Jewish Funeral Care, 770-451-4999.

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