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Martin Heilbrunn

Martin Heilbrunn

Martin Heilbrunn

Born in Geisa, Germany, on May 6, 1922, Martin Heilbrunn died in Hendersonville Nov. 9, 2013.

He was preceded in death by his beloved wife Hildegard Levy, with whom he retired to North Carolina from Queens, N.Y.

He is survived by loving family: daughter Bernice Heilbrunn Potvin, son Robert Heilbrunn, daughter-in-law Alissa Heilbrunn, grandchildren Deborah (Shmuel Nadata), Sarah, and Hannah Potvin and Michael (Emma Covington) and David Heilbrunn, great-grandchildren Michal and Hobbes Nadata, nieces and nephews Lorraine and Tom Donaher, Rosalie Feistel, Kurt and Susan Nathan, and sister-in-law Mella Nathan.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Emil and Babette, sister Ida Seid, and son-in-law D. Joseph Potvin. He was the last survivor of ten cousins, lost to the Holocaust, illness, and age.

During World War II, as a refugee from Germany, Martin was trained as a Ritchie Boy, interrogating senior German prisoners of war to secure information vital to the Allies. He served in Patton's Third US Army, in North Africa and Europe.

After the war, he married and raised two children in New York. He was a proud citizen of his adopted country, devoted to his family and to charitable work for Ethiopian Jewry and his community in Hendersonville. Principled and gentle, Martin bestowed dignity, patience, and loving attention on everyone who knew him.

A brilliant orator and writer, Martin also was known for his sense of humor, musical voice, and friendly outreach. Known to his grandchildren as Opa, he always greeted them with a twinkle in his eyes, inquiring "How are they treating you? Any complaints?"

A graveside funeral service will be held at 2 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2013, in the Agudas Israel section of Oakdale Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to North American Conference on Ethiopian Jewry ( or to  Four Seasons Compassion for Life, 571 South Allen Road, Flat Rock, NC 28792.

An online register book is available for family and friends by visiting

Thos. Shepherd & Son Funeral Directors and Cremation Memorial Center is in charge of arrangements.