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HomeNewsArchivesCharlotte Kaufman Paiewonsky Dies at 91

Charlotte Kaufman Paiewonsky Dies at 91

March 3, 2005 – St. Thomas resident Charlotte Kaufman Paiewonsky died Thursday at her home on Blackbeard's Hill. She was 91.
She founded A.H. Riise gift shop, the Main Street store still in Paiewonsky family ownership. Paiewonsky served as its president for more than 30 years.
Her husband of 67 years, Isidor, died Dec. 6, 2004 at age 95.
Paiewonsky's son, former Sen. Michael Paiewonsky, died June 17, 2004.
She is survived by her daughter, Avna Paiewonsky Cassinelli; grandchildren Sebastiano Paiewonsky Cassinelli, Filippo Cassinelli, Justus Paiewonsky, Paul Paiewonsky, Mahine Paiewonsky Stewart and Christopher Paiewonsky; granddaughters-in-law Julie Paiewonsky Cassinelli and Tricia Cassinelli; grandson-in-law Alexander Stewart; great grandchildren Angelica, Isaac, Lukas, Mikkel, Max and Theo Paiewonsky, Isabella Stewart and Julia Alessandra Cassinelli; and great-step-grandchildren Olivia and Sophia Foster.
Paiewonsky was born in Tampa, Fla. in 1914. She attended Florida State College in Tallahassee, and graduated from Hunter College in New York City. She moved to St. Thomas after her marriage to Isidor Paiewonsky in 1938.
Paiewonsky was active in St. Thomas civic life from the time she arrived.
She played leadership roles with the Community Chest, the Red Cross and the St. Thomas Synagogue, and served on the boards of the Retailers’ Association and the Community Music Association.
She helped to found the Antilles School and served on its board from 1953 to 1983. In the late 1980s, she was named an honorary trustee of the school.
Filippo Cassinelli remembers his grandmother's Thanksgiving dinners.
"They were wonderful events with interesting people," he said.
And he said that the entire family always went sailing on Christmas Day.
"We did that for a couple of decades," he said.
He said that in addition to being a "remarkable" businesswoman, she cared deeply about her community and the people she worked with. He said she always opened her home to her friends and family and for charitable functions for the St. Thomas Synagogue.
As word circulated Thursday of her death, friends remembered her fondly.
"She was a wonderful person and a brilliant business woman," Honor Tranum said. She said the two went to lunch every week.
Long-time friend Bette Davis said she too lunched often with Paiewonsky. "We stayed so long that Alexander's wanted to put us out at 3 p.m.," Davis said, referring to a Frenchtown Restaurant that has since changed names. She said Paiewonsky had a natural grace and tact that others had to work hard to attain.
Franzi Coulianos said she and Paiewonsky had been friends for over 50 years. "From the first week she came to St. Thomas," Coulianos said.
Coulianos recalled Paiewonsky as very kind. "She was a sweet and giving person," Coulianos said, adding that her friend gave a lot to the community.
Dr. Alfred O. Heath said that he "supped" many times at Paiewonsky's table. "The salmon was out of this world," he said. He too recalled her as a gracious and generous lady.
"We will miss her greatly," he said.
A funeral service will be held at 3:45 p.m. Monday at the St. Thomas Synagogue. Burial will follow at the Synagogue's Altona Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, the family requested that donations be made to the St. Thomas Synagogue or to the Isidor and Charlotte Paiewonsky Fund at the Community Foundation of the Virgin Islands.

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