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Ruben Edelstein

Ruben Edelstein was born February 3, 1918, and passed away on July 21, 2014.
His parents were Morris and Yetta Edelstein. Morris immigrated to the United States from Lithuania. Morris established Edelstein’s Better Furniture in Brownsville.

Ruben was in the first confirmation class of Temple Beth-El in 1933, the year that the synagogue was built. In 1935, he graduated from Brownsville High School and in 1937 he graduated from Brownsville Junior College.

In 1939, Ruben Edelstein graduated from the University of Texas with a BBA degree. Ruben returned to work in the family’s retail furniture business following graduation until 1941, when he entered the US Army during World War II serving in the heavy Field Artillery. Ruben was part of the force that liberated the Nordhousen Concentration Camp. He was discharged as a captain in 1945 and returned to the family business which he headed following his father’s
retirement, expanding the number and size of the branch stores from six to fourteen over the years.

Ruben was a devoted Rotarian. He was a member from 1940 until his death. He was past president, Rotarian of the Year and became a Paul Harris Fellow in 1985. Ruben was one of the pioneers of the United Fund of Brownsville and served as its first Chairman from 1955 to 1958. He also served as Chairman of the Better Utilities Committee which in 1959 established the Brownsville Public Utilities Board (PUB) and served as its first Chairman.

Initially a Lay Advisory Board member of Mercy Hospital in 1959, Ruben continued his involvement with the hospital through several expansions and buyouts until 2004. He presided
as the Chairman for many years. Ruben was also past director of the Brownsville Chamber of Commerce, Charro Days Association of Brownsville, The Rio Grande Valley Chamber of Commerce, and the Southwest Retail Furniture Association.

Ruben Edelstein was a former director of the Gladys Porter Zoo, a Vice-President  of The Valley Industrial Council, and a director of (M Bank) Well Fargo Bank, Brownsville. Ruben was a lifetime member of the Brownsville Historical Society as well as numerous other community organizations. He was also active in the religious affairs of Temple Beth-El in Brownsville. He has been past director and president of the Board of Directors, custodian of the Hebrew Cemetery and recipient of the leadership awards from the United Jewish Appeal and a recipient of the David Ben Gurion Award from the State of Israel Bonds. Ruben Edelstein served as mayor of Brownsville from 1975 to 1979. Some of his proudest achievements were the founding of the Brownville Community health Clinic, Brownsville Emergency Medical Service, and the city-wide Urban Bus System.

Not only did Ruben Edelstein devote time to Brownsville, but he was also a philanthropist. Ruben funded a trust for the Brownsville Community Health Clinic. He established a Chair at BISD, Brownsville Endowment of Teaching Excellence, Computer Science, and a chair for the Dean’s Scholarship Endowment, Business School, University of Texas at Brownsville. He was a major contributor to the Valley Zoological Society, Endowment Fund, and contributed to the Grand Piano Room at the UTB/TSC Arts Center. He has been a generous donor to Jewish and Catholic causes as well.

Ruben Edelstein is buried next to his wife, Bernice, in the Hebrew Cemetery.