Paula Abramson Scarr died on Sunday, March 17, 2013 at the age of 81.
She was born in Eau Claire, Wisconsin on December 13, 1931 to Morris and Celia (Cohen) Abramson. She attended Eau Claire High School where she played the cornet in the marching band. Her dachshund Fritz was her constant companion, sometimes following her to school and howling for her outside the band room. Paula attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison and graduated in 1954 with a degree in nursing and a specialty in psychiatric nursing. She was known as a bright and fun-loving student. Her score on the psychiatric portion of the state nursing boards was the highest on record for many years. As a member of the Wisconsin Union Directorate, she started a program at the University's Memorial Union that involved a series of get-togethers between students and various professors to talk about a particular topic in a casual setting; she named it "Coffee: Grounds for Discussion." She loved the Boston Pops and was successful in bringing Arthur Fiedler and the Boston Pops to the Memorial Union to perform a concert.
After graduating, Paula taught psychiatric nursing at a hospital in Rochester, Minnesota. While in Rochester, Paula met Leonard Scarr, a veterinarian. The two married on November 22, 1956, honeymooning in Havana, Cuba. They lived in Rochester for a short while and then relocated to Portsmouth, Virginia, where they raised four children and numerous dachshunds. Paula worked part-time as the office manager of Scarr Animal Hospital for many years. She was a model of efficiency and organization and helped Leonard grow his practice into a successful endeavor.
Paula and Leonard were loyal fans of the Old Dominion University Lady Monarchs basketball team. Paula was active in the Temple Sinai Sisterhood and Hadassah and participated in an interfaith council. She also volunteered at and was on the board of the Suicide-Crisis Center for eighteen years, receiving recognition for the difference she made in the community.
She took several dance classes and learned tap and ballroom dancing. At about age 65, Paula enrolled in an aerobics class at a fitness center and continued taking aerobics three times a week for thirteen years, rarely missing a class. She loved exercising and cherished the camaraderie among the delightful women in her class. Paula was the unofficial leader of the class, welcoming new members and organizing occasional lunch outings and other social gatherings that furthered their special bond with one another.
Despite the move to Virginia, where they lived for over fifty years, Paula never lost her love for all things Badger and Wisconsin. She served for several years as a trustee on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Memorial Union Board of Trustees and enjoyed returning to Madison numerous times over the years for board meetings and Nursing School reunions.
Paula was sharp, witty, and funny, even hilariously irreverent at times. She was "cool" in that she kept up with the times, was interested in young people, and was progressive in her thinking. She was a supportive mother and a wonderful friend. She maintained lifelong friendships and kept in touch with faraway friends by being such an excellent correspondent.
Paula loved music, especially the music of Lawrence Welk, John Philip Sousa, and Barbra Streisand, as well as swing, show tunes, and classical. She also loved marching bands, dachshunds, and chocolate. She enjoyed reading, modern art and architecture, and theater.
Paula and Leonard moved to Madison in March of 2010 in order to live near their daughter, Amy, and her partner, Judy. They lived at Capitol Lakes Retirement Community, making strong friendships and getting outstanding care.
Paula is survived by her children, Amy (Judy Howard) of Madison; Danny of McKinleyville, Calif.; Tzvi/Adam (Cindy) of Jerusalem, Israel; and Mark of Pueblo, Colo.; grandsons, Itzik, Binyomin, Yaakov, Yonti, Chaim, and Moishy of Jerusalem, Israel; sister-in-law Corine Cohn of Madison; dear nieces and nephews, including Betsy Abramson (David Seligman) of Madison who provided loving care and support to Paula; other extended family; and many dear friends.
She was preceded in death by her parents, Morris and Celia Abramson; husband, Leonard W. Scarr; brother, Harold Abramson; nephew, Bruce Abramson; sister-in-law, Gert Scarr; brother-in-law, Albert Kessler; and nephew, Martin Kessler.
A graveside service was held at Beit Olamim Cemetery at Sunset Memory Gardens in Madison on March 19, 2013, with Rabbi Joshua Ben-Gideon officiating. A celebration of Paula's life will take place on Sunday, April 7, 2013 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Capitol Lakes, 333 W. Main St., Madison.
Memorials may be made to the Alzheimer's Association, P. O. Box 96011, Washington, DC 20090-6011 (or at www.alz.org); the UW-Madison School of Nursing Annual Fund, US Bank Lockbox, P. O. Box 78807, Milwaukee, WI 53278-0807 (or at www.son.wisc.edu); the Capitol Lakes Foundation, 333 W. Main St., Madison, WI 53703; or Agrace HospiceCare, 5395 E. Cheryl Pkwy., Madison, WI 53711.