ALBANY, NY – Maria Itenberg passed away at her home in the early morning hours of January 3, 2020 surrounded by her loving family.
Funeral Services will be held at 1:00 pm in the afternoon on Sunday, January 5, 2020 at the Cannon Funeral Home, 2020 Central Avenue, Albany, followed by Interment in Temple Israel Cemetery, Guilderland. Afterwards, friends and family are invited to a reception in honor of Maria at 400 Hudson Ave, Albany (12th Floor Lounge). In addition, Shiva will be held at the same location on Sunday (1/5) and Monday (1/6) at 4:00 p.m.
Maria was born on December 13, 1921 in St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad), the daughter of the late Sofya and Mendel Schwartz.
Within a few years after graduating from high school, Maria found herself among the millions of soviet citizens trapped in the German Siege of Leningrad, which commenced on September 8, 1941 and lasted for 872 days. With most able-bodied men away at war, Maria, like many other women, served as a civilian defense worker, rendering her eligible to be considered heroic, much like other women serving in combat positions throughout the world. During this time, Maria worked at a hospital providing aid to the sick and injured, dug trenches, extinguished firebombs dropped by the Germans during daily artillery strikes before they could set flame to the surroundings, hid books, art and other valuables from the Germans in basements throughout the City, and led expeditions to collect orphaned children, the elderly and the sick to be evacuated across the frozen Lake Ladoga, which served as the single point through which supplies and refugees could be transported out of the City. After WWII Maria was awarded several medals of honor for her services.
After the War, Maria married the love of her life, Leonid Itenberg, in a wedding celebration that spanned three days (December 4-6, 1947). Maria completed the then equivalent of online courses graduating as a technician and finally settled in Leningrad where she and Leonid raised two children. Maria and Leonid both worked at a factory engaged in the production of avionics for the Soviet air force.
In the 1980’s their children immigrated to Albany, New York, and Leonid and Maria followed in 1989. Over the next 30 years, they watched their family grow to include four beautiful grandchildren and eight amazing great-grandchildren, with one more on the way in February 2020.
Maria loved life, was full of joy, and was an eternal optimist. More than anything else, she cherished spending time with her family.
Maria is survived by her sister, Tzila Zaslovsky, son, Alexander (Inna) Itenberg, and daughter, Alla (Lev) Smelyansky; her beloved grandchildren, Sonya (Peter) VanBortel, Max (Rachael) Smelyansky, Ilana (Oleg) Urim, and Sarit (Jonathan) Greenblatt; eight great-grandchildren, Zachary Louis, Juliet, Aliza, Leonya, Misha, Maya, Zachary Aaron and Evan; and extended family and devoted friends. Maria was predeceased in death by her husband of almost 70 years, Leonid.
For directions, or to leave a message of condolence for the family, visit www.CannonFuneral.com
To send flowers to Maria's family, please visit our floral section.