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Isabelle Teresa Huber

Grandmother, Holocaust survivor, author, musical prodigy

Isabelle Teresa Huber, a Claremont resident since 1973, died November 13, 2020 after a valiant two-year battle with stomach cancer. She was the beloved mother of three children and devoted wife of Donald J. Huber, MD, who died July 14, 2020.

She was born March 19, 1939 in Czarnkow, Poland to Wolfgang and Frida Hauser, six months before the outbreak of World War II. The family was forcibly moved to the Jewish ghetto soon after Poland was defeated by the Nazis. Fearing for her survival, Isabelle was secretly slid down an air vent into the arms of Meva Dabrutzka, the 14-year-old daughter of Czacza Dabrutzka, who whisked her back to the family’s home. This brave Polish Catholic family risked their lives by hiding the youngster from the Nazis in their attic for more than three and-a-half years. 

There were many close encounters threatening her and the Dobruzka’s lives, but she survived and was miraculously reunited with her mother at the war’s end, in 1945.

After briefly settling in a displaced person camp in Hungary, mother and daughter lived in Rome, Italy from 1946 to 1948. Her initial schooling was at a cloister run by nuns. The two obtained visas in 1948 and made their way to Brooklyn, New York via Ellis Island. 

During her childhood years she was noted to be a prodigy pianist. Her musical expertise led to her performing for Eleanor Roosevelt in middle school and at Carnegie Hall as a pre-teen. 

She was accepted to the prestigious The Juilliard School of music, however an overbearing stepfather prevented her matriculation. She graduated from Tilden High School in Brooklyn and subsequently moved to Los Angeles in 1963, where she worked as a model and bookkeeper and took classes at UCLA. 

A true love story developed when she met Donald Huber,  a young medical intern at UCLA, in 1964. They fell in love and eloped in Anchorage, Alaska in 1965, when Donald was doing his two-year military service. The family subsequently moved to New York, San Francisco, Hawaii and finally Claremont in 1973.

“Isabelle had a truly amazing relationship and never ending love affair with Donald,” her family shared. “They traveled the world and remained integral to each other’s lives.”

She remained active in the community as a member of LACMA and continued to play piano. She raised her three children as a dutiful mother. She will always be remembered as a great storyteller with a vivacious, fun-loving personality. 

In 1999 a truly amazing reunification occurred between Isabelle and the girl who helped carry her away from certain death in the Jewish ghetto. After 57 years, Meva Dobrucki came to Los Angeles and the event was recorded by CBS News. The endearing, heartfelt piece received a local Emmy Award. 

Subsequently, she returned to Poland in 2010 to explore her birthplace and the attic that spared her life. Her experiences lead her to author a book, Isabelle‘s Attic, which remains in wide circulation. The book documents her emotional journey back to Poland while reminiscing about the traumatic, life-changing events that occurred during her difficult childhood. 

She remained active in Holocaust remembrance circles and spoke often to community and school groups about her experiences, as well as on her book tours. One memorable Holocaust event involved her and Meva returning to Poland to be honored as survivors. During that trip she was greeted by the president and vice president of Poland, who were intent on stamping out anti-Semitism in their country. The shawl which covered the piano under which Isabelle hid during wartime inspections now resides in a Holocaust museum in New York City. 

She is survived by her three children, Michelle, Christopher and Glen; and five granddaughters. 

In lieu of flowers please send contributions to Holocaust Museum LA at https://www.holocaustmuseumla.org/?form=DONATE.

“Happy birthday mom. You’re always with us,” her family added.

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