EMBRACING LIFE with both hands, even though much of it was overshadowed by tragedy, Cissie Luper founded a local branch of a leukaemia research charity following the death of her grandson Mark from leukaemia. When he was diagnosed in 1965, Cissie decided to fundraise for research into the illness. She advertised for volunteers in the daily local paper, and after Mark’s death in 1968 her initiative became the Brighton, Hove and District group of the Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research Fund.
Cissie remained in the chair until her husband’s death in 1987, when she was appointed branch president. After over £ 2 5 0 , 0 0 0 h a d b e e n raised, Cissie was awarded an MBE, which she r e c e i v e d f r o m Prince Charles at Buckingham P a l a - cein December, 1999.
But the l o s s o f l o v e d o n e s c o nt i n- ued to mark her life – including the recent deaths of two of her three sons, Christopher and Tony, and her nephew, Gerry – which she faced with immense fortitude and resilience.
While her father Joseph studied Torah, her mother opened a kosher restaurant and boarding house in Duke Street, Brighton, where she met her future husband, Bernard (Ben) Luper. They married, both aged 17, on March 14, 1925, and lived above their men’s outfitting shop in Trafalgar Street. A landmark business, it was still flourishing when Ben retired in the 1980s. Moving to Hove, they joined what became the Brighton and Hove Progressive Synagogue, proud of being in tune with the needs of modern Jews. Cissie w a s r e c e n t l y appointed an Emeritus Vice-President. T h e c o u p l e helped raise funds to set u p t h e Bright
on & Hove Home for Aged Jews in the early 1950s. Bernard was the first treasurer and Cissie helped organise day to day affairs. In later years, the Home came under the supervision of Jewish Care, later renamed Hyman Fine House. Cissie had no idea then that she would spend the last years of her life at the Home she had helped to establish.
Even after Ben’s death in 1987, Cissie continued to live life to the full. She was still driving her own car at 92, still living in her own flat, and leading a busy social life.
Sadly, Cissie faced another terrible blow when her youngest son, Christopher died on July 12, 2005. In early 2006, at the age of 99, she moved into Hyman Fine House following a fall. In April 2006, her son Tony also moved in, enabling them to be together every day – their wheelchairs always standing side-by-side in the front lounge. They celebrated special birthdays together in 2007, when she reached the age of 100, and Tony turned 80.
Cissie was a very strong, indomitable and positive personality, who did not give up on on life easily. However Tony’s death on July 10, 2009 proved one blow too many. Extremely distressed, Cissie became more inward but drew support from Ben’s photograph which she used to kiss and greet every day. It was a gesture of love and connection that renewed her strength.
She is survived by her son Peter, daughter-in-law Dorothy, Tony’s widow Renee, grandchildren David, Sarah and Paul, and great-grandchildren.
Luper: living life to the full