Janet Levy Neu passed away in Torrance at the age of 98 on April 16, 2020. Janet was born September 11, 1921 in St. Joseph, Louisiana, the youngest of three children, to parents Rietta Katten Levy of Mexia, Texas and Oscar Levy of Strasbourg, France.
Janet’s father died when she was 15 years old. Following his death in the mid-1930s, Janet’s mother, older sister, aunt and cousin, embarked on a cross-country drive to California in the days before highways, often driving on dirt roads. California and the movie stars they saw at the Coconut Grove made a big impression on Janet. Shortly after this trip, her mother, her older sister Elaine, and Janet moved to New Orleans to be closer to family. Soon after the move, Janet met Ernest Neu at a party. She was 16; he was 22 and newly arrived in the U.S. from France and Germany.
Janet attended the University of Texas for almost two years before being called back to New Orleans to take care of her ailing mother. There she attended Tulane Architectural School. During the war years, she worked as a secretary for a branch of the U.S. Armed Services.
When the U.S. entered World War II, Ernie enlisted and spent the war years in the European theatre as a sergeant and medic in the U.S. Army. He and Janet corresponded with daily letters. They married in New Orleans on Ernie’s return from the war in February 1946. On their honeymoon, they drove to the South Bay, where Ernest had a job waiting in Walteria.
Janet and Ernie lived in Hermosa Beach and Manhattan Beach before settling in their new home in the Hollywood Riviera in 1953 where Janet lived until her death. Janet was an active volunteer in local organizations and charities. She was a member of The Dolphins and volunteered for many years at Harbor General Hospital, the Toberman Neighborhood Center in San Pedro, and the American Field Service. Janet was a founding member of Temple Menorah and an active member of the Sisterhood for more than 30 years. She also worked as an outside travel agent.
Janet and Ernie’s first daughter, Helene, was born in 1948; Joyce was born in 1950. The family moved to Mexico City in 1958 for a year where Ernie worked as a chemical engineer with the Great Lakes Carbon Corporation. After a little more than a year back in Redondo Beach, and with Janet having suffered the loss of her ability to walk, she nonetheless insisted that the whole family accompany Ernie in the move to Brussels for his work. Janet regained her ability to walk with the help of doctors and nuns at the hospital there and treatment by an excellent and demanding physical therapist. The family lived in Brussels for almost three years. With Ernie frequently traveling for work, Janet was often alone with two little girls, rudimentary French, and the challenging transition of life in another country. Nonetheless, Janet developed lifelong friends in Mexico and Belgium.
Janet and Ernie enjoyed traveling and in later years, they traveled to Brazil, Israel, Mexico, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa, Tahiti, and Western Europe. Janet was an avid Dodgers fan; for many years, she and Ernie had tickets to games at Dodger Stadium. Up until her last days, she was glued to the television whenever there was a Dodgers game on, even watching reruns during the COVID-19 era. Another passion of hers was playing cards. Over the years she played bridge, gin, poker, and pan with old and new friends.
Janet was predeceased by Ernie, her husband of 66 years and by her brother Loris Levy, her sister Elaine Herold, and nephews Orin Levy and Bruce Levy. She is survived by daughters Helene Neu of Ann Arbor, Michigan and Joyce Neu of Redondo Beach, as well as by nephew Arthur (Janice) Herold and children Spencer Herold and Ashley Herold Groboski, nieces Rita Herold Hankins, Judy (Cal) Eisenberg and children Eric Eisenberg and Lori Eisenberg Castro, and relatives Edwin (Doris) Katten, Sue Katten Tillis, Noni Katten, Steve Katten, Lynne Philip Alterman, Gail Philip Schaeffer, Ronna Levy, Herbert Keaton, Joyce Keaton Murphy, Dani Lévy, Vincent Lévy, Thomas Lévy, Clément Lévy, Etienne Lévy, Geneviève Lemarchand, and André Gregory.
Helene and Joyce want to express their gratitude to Janet’s caregivers Elena Peraza, America Reyes, Joselyn Oamelda, and Elmo Malacas for cheering up our mother and taking such good care of her over the years. In her final hours, the doctors and nurses at Torrance Memorial Hospital could not have been more caring and attentive.
Donations in Janet’s memory can be made to the Neu Social Justice Fund at Temple Menorah in Torrance, the Toberman Neighborhood Center in San Pedro, or a charity of your choice.
To participate in the Zoom memorial service for Janet that will be held April 23rd at 5pm, please send an email to email@example.com