Imagine having experienced a childhood so wonderful that you relive it for the rest of your life. That’s exactly how Jerry Lande felt about his upbringing during the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s on Denver’s West Side.
The friendships, the Yiddishkeit, the multi-generational households, the youth groups, the public schools, the HEA . . . Jerry Lande just couldn’t get enough of them, and he realized the phenomenon known as the West Side was also deeply meaningful to others who grew up there when it was heavily populated by first-generation Jewish immigrant families. So he brought everyone together for the epic West Side Reunion in 1985, where memories of those bygone days were relived and friendships reinforced or renewed.
It didn’t end there. Lande continued to get the old gang together for smaller-scale reunions and informal get togethers periodically in the decades that followed the big reunion.
To say Jerry Lande loved the West Side would be an understatement. One only had to venture into the finished basement of his southeast Denver home to discover a virtual museum of the West Side: walls lined with photos, framed newspaper articles, programs from the shows that the West Side kids used to put on, and a book he made out of it all.
Jerry Lande loved his past, but he didn’t exclusively live in the past. As an older adult, he remained current and tuned into the news and trends of the day. He exercised regularly and was always dapperly dressed.
Son of the late Israel and Libby Lande, Jerry was the last of the admirable Lande siblings, Bernie and Harold Lande and Cecile Silverberg, and, perhaps, the last of the “old West Siders.” Each contributed to this community. Jerry’s contribution was to remind us of a simpler era which embodied the values of family, friends and Judaism that are no less crucial today than they were eight decades ago.
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