Annemarie Pinto, 96, passed away peacefully at her home on Garden Street in Potsdam on Sunday, May 26, 2019.
Annemarie was born in Vienna, Austria on Aug. 13, 1922. She was the only child of a Jewish father, Leo Sternfeld, and a Christian mother, Agnes Sternfeld, nee Schoenberg. With Leo being successful in law and business, they were a fortunate family until anti-Semitism spread and the Nazis came to power. Indeed, as a young girl, Annemarie spent a few years living in a luxury hotel in Istanbul with her mother while her father helped the Turkish government with a major infrastructure project. Kemal Ataturk, then Turkey’s president, gave her a bracelet.
Annemarie was raised mostly in Berlin where the family remained through World War II. When the Nazis came, the family lost everything. Leo was forced into menial labor and the family endured indignity, fear of arrest by the Nazis and danger from allied bombardments of the city. But they survived, in large part due to the loyalty of her mother to her Jewish husband. After the war, Leo and Agnes opened a successful movie theater, bringing an element of escape from the realities of a defeated, war-torn city. Annemarie gave an oral history of her experiences during the Nazi era to the Holocaust Museum in Naples, Florida. Also, her family’s experiences during the war were chronicled in the book “The Last Battle” by Cornelius Ryan.
Annemarie is survived by her husband Morris; their three children: Joan, Mel, and Marc; as well as Jerry, her nephew, who joined the family in high school.
Annemarie and Morris were married for over 71 years. They met near her home in Berlin where Morris was stationed as an American serviceman guarding the post office across the street. She liked his hair. After the war ended, Annemarie came to the United States and they married.
After many years raising the children, Annemarie, whose education had been interrupted by the war, went back to school. She started as an undergraduate at St. Lawrence University and received a bachelor’s degree. She then went on to obtain a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from McGill University in Montreal. She subsequently joined the State University of New York at Potsdam in the Foreign Languages Department, ultimately becoming Chairperson of that department. Her writings were published in Commentary magazine and elsewhere. After many years as a professor, including a sabbatical in Jerusalem, Israel, Annemarie retired.
Annemarie had a rich life in many ways. She was a voracious reader, a dog lover and a painter. She brought a stylish and tasteful aesthetic to her appearance and to her homes. As a volunteer, she taught English to prison inmates and literacy to Bosnian war refugees. After her father died, she brought her mother from Germany and cared for her here in the North Country. She vacationed with Morris and the children. She would give things away as quickly as she would shop for them. She always maintained an affinity for and rapport with young people, even as she got older. She and Morris acquired a small house in Lake Placid, where the family would often gather. She loved her walks around Mirror Lake, socializing with the shopkeepers along the way. She was a strong, accomplished, creative, loving, trailblazing woman who stopped to smell the flowers.
She will be dearly missed by her family and friends. The family is also very grateful for the loving care provided to her by Liana Agiashvili overthe last six years.
There will be no calling hours.
Contributions in memory of Annemarie’s long and eventful life can be made to Hospice and Palliative Care of St. Lawrence Valley. Arrangements are with the Garner Funeral Service.
Online condolences can be left at www.garnerfh.com.