Minnie Sternoff left memorable impressions throughout her life. She was socially conscious, charitable, ethical, generous, fair, reasonable, insightful, fiscally wise, a close follower of politics, gave sound business advice, and was inspiring to her three children, two grandchildren and friends. She was kind, caring, educated and fearless. She was direct, didn’t suffer fools and told them. Long before women’s lib, Minnie was liberated.
She never forgot the depression, clipped coupons, observed how fate or foolishness can cause you to lose everything and that nothing good comes from greed. She read thousands of books and for years, subscribed to 5 papers.
Born Minnie Rosenkrantz October 24, 1920 in Aberdeen, WA, middle child to immigrant Russian Jewish parents, William and Mary, Minnie and brothers Oscar and Alex were raised to know how fortunate they were to be born here. Ahead of her time in many ways, Minnie swam, played victorious tennis over her gentlemen friends, and earned a business degree at the UW. In her early 20s, when her father had died and her brothers were in the military, she put her education and capability to work. She took over Western Machinery, the Aberdeen family business, selling equipment to logging mills run by men who, years later, remembered Minnie as formidable. Renamed Western Steel, she was on the board into her 70’s, and the company today is run by her brother Oscar and her niece Jill Rosenkrantz.
Minnie met Irving Sternoff from Seattle on a blind date. They married in ’49 and moved into a small house in Magnolia. In’57, they bought in Bellevue, and eventually, Kirkland. Minnie encouraged her children to read, travel, and expand their world. Bill became a network news correspondent; Bob, a developer; and Sandy, a CPA.
Irv and his brothers owned Sternoff Metals, and when her signature was needed on business documents, Minnie didn’t co-sign blindly. She asked questions and insisted on changes that impacted the business and investments.
Minnie and Irv dined at Canlis and Trader Vic’s, took the family to the Hong Kong Restaurant every Sunday night, supported the Seattle Symphony, Seattle Opera, and numerous charities. They traveled to operas in the USSR, went to Israel, Egypt, Australia, drove through Europe, took cruises, and made friends everywhere. Never shy, if Minnie wanted to be seated at the captain’s table on cruises or wanted fresh fruit in Moscow where it was scarce, she got it!
She loved her parents, her family, the sun, ocean beaches, deep tans, Palm Springs, cruising the Gulf Islands, oysters, Dungeness crab, razor clams, throwing parties, gardening, playing the horses, shooting craps in Vegas, and dressed with style, bought on sale or lay-away.
She taught herself to cook, and her soufflés, blintzes, latkes, matzo balls, gefilte fish and corned beef were legend. Minnie adored and carried Charlie, her miniature Pekinese, everywhere. When retailer I. Magnin banned dogs, she never shopped there again.
Minnie had character, common sense, was a person of integrity, honor, dignity, fortitude and purpose. In Yiddish, Minnie was a mensch. Bill, Bob, Sandy (J., John and Jennifer), grandchildren Sarah and Andrew, brother Oscar and his wife, Jackie, nieces Jill, Jody, Julie and nephew Bill survive her and will miss her deeply.
Minnie turned 93 a few weeks ago, her life enhanced by her doctors and exceptional care and companionship provided by Patsie DeYoung and Ursula Schanne, to whom the family is very grateful. And true to form, Minnie was sharp, engaged, looking ahead, and laughing to the end.
Minnie, and Irv who died in 2006, took nothing and no one for granted, valued their friends, were loved, and will forever be remembered as good people. Minnie requested no funeral, but in her honor, please consider contributions to the Jewish Family Service, Providence Hospice of Seattle or any charity that helps people in need.