Theodore (Theo) Balberyszski
February 16, 1930 - March 9, 2021
I have known my dear friend Theo for over 70 years and yet did not know this dear person. Every now and then we snatched a glimpse of who he really was, but it was only for a fleeting second.
Theo was and remains to me a truly significant person, extremely intelligent , kind and thoughtful with those that he associated with and considered as his friends.
Sadly,Theo was very shy around woman and it was not until he was over 60 years old that he finally found his dear life partner in Anat. Theo was a very private person and rarely spoke about his deepest thoughts and dreams. Nor would he speak about his past. Theo spent his early years in ghettos and concentration camps. I was present at a Misdar Jabotinsky function when Theo as head, made a speech which left over 200 people present openly crying as he related his experiences as a young boy in concentration camps.
Theo left Melbourne in the early 1950s as a newly qualified engineer unable to find employment in his chosen career. On his arrival to Israel the same situation occurred. It was only after many fruitless attempts at finding employment that he finally succeeded finding a position in the Timna Copper Mines in the Negev.
From there over the coming years his successes followed one after the other. He eventually went to America and studied at the Colorado Mining Institute. I wont go into all that followed but simply mention that this mate of ours became one of the most highly respected and sought after leading copper mining engineers in the world.
Many other stories and incidents that followed. Amongst them my mother in law was on one of her many buying trips overseas whilst stopping over in Tokyo she saw Theo being escorted off the plane by armed Japanese policemen. She rushed over to him and offered help. He embarrassingly told her that all was well.
Amongst my most cherished memories that I can recall are the many reunions we had over the years. They were all deeply touching and happy events. One of the happiest days of my life was Theo’s wedding. Its hard to express to all how happy we felt. That Theo had finally found his bride. And when I play my tapes of this and many other celebrations I can once more recall the sheer joy of that time.
Yes Theo, you were and will always remain a large part of the good,... no great times of our lives.
Your old mate Jack
- Jack Mirjam
A person is lucky to have one good father. I was lucky to have two.
As of Today, my second father, Theodore Balberyszsk is no longer with us. He left us with a great hole in our hearts. He was the most kind, good, intelligent, knowledgeable, honorable man I know. Although coming into our lives as a bachelor in his 60s he was a naturally amazing husband and father and for sure an awesome grandfather to Noam, Orad and Adara.
We will miss him for sure but now we are all grateful for the time we had together, his hugs, his smile, his wit and wisdom. He had a good life with stories that would fill the lives of many, he was a doer, a dreamer, a go getter, a Zionist in every cell of his body, a great husband, father, grandfather, son, brother, uncle. Everything he was he did with integrity, love and kindness.
Rest In Peace Theo, my second father.
Oana Noa Chidiosan
Anat Balberyszski daughter
Theo passed away in Tel Aviv Israel on the 27th of Tevet, 10th of March.
66 years ago, in Camp Betar in Kinglake West Theo wrote the following:
"In these days, when one walks on the brink of hell, he possesses a treasure who possesses a friend."
We have now lost a great treasure.
Born in Lodz, Poland, in 16.02.1931 to Menachem (Mendel) and Leah Balberyszski, Theo, in World War 2 was incarcerated in the Vilna ghetto and then in a horrendous concentration camp in Estonia with his father. Miraculously they were part of the few KZ Klooga survivors and the two were reunited with his mother and sister after the war. This portion of his life is described in his father's book "Stronger than Iron", which Theodore translated from Yiddish.
In the early fifties, they made their long way to Melbourne to try to escape anti-Semitism and build a new life. There Theo finished High School and graduated in Mechanical Engineering.
Theo was active in Melbourne's social Jewish youth organizations and, discovering Betar, he was captivated by Jabotinsky's ideology and in 1953 joined Betar where he soon became one of the movement's leaders and was instrumental in initiating, together with Yosef Steiner, Shimshon Feder and Jack Mirjam, Betar's most influential period in the Melbourne Jewish community.
Owing to his deep-rooted Zionism, he left Australia as soon as he finished his studies and made Aliya in 1958 to help build and serve the young Jewish state. He found work in ICL (Israel Chemicals Ltd) and found fulfilment in helping to develop the industry in Israel.
Soon after, he moved to Eilat, where he became the Chief Engineer of the Timna copper mine where there had been no production since King Solomon's time.
Theo was later sent by ICL to Minneapolis where he received his master's degree and later a Doctorate in Mining Engineering and Metallurgy from the University of Colorado.
Theo returned home to Israel and a few years later went back to the University of Colorado where he attained professorship.
From the university Theo was headhunted by Fluor Engineering, then one of the world's leading engineering companies and became Vice President, heading their mining engineering activities worldwide.
In the following period of his full life of accomplishments: he was Professor of Mining Engineering at a leading university in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and then President and CEO of Atlantic Richfield oil company in Mexico, just to name a few.
In these years of executive positions in leading multinational companies Theo worked in many countries and widened his knowledge of many languages.
In 1990 he returned to Israel and bought an apartment in Ramat Aviv, where he has lived ever since.
Back in Israel he worked as a consultant, including for ICL's Dead Sea Bromine company and soon sought a way to channel his efforts into his earlier love, Betar and the Jabotinsky movement.He became active in Misdar Jabotinsky (The Jabotinsky Order) and reached the position of Nagid (Head of the Order), which he held for many years and led in planting Jabotinsky's ideas and heritage into Israel's political milieu.
Jabotinsky's ideology has now become universally quoted by most Israeli political leaders.
I first met Theo in 1955 at a Betar camp and that was the start of a life-long friendship.
Theo was and always remained true and loyal to all his friends and in all these years I never heard him say a bad word about anybody.
In 1991 Theo married Anat and since then he had a life full of happiness and love. Together they travelled the world and enjoyed life to the fullest. Anat also brought into his life a loved and loving family who filled it with much warmth, joy, and contentment.
In the last few years Theo's health deteriorated but his pains were made bearable by the 24 hour a day care given him by Anat, who devoted herself to all his needs and by the grandchildren whom he loved with all his heart, admired and from whom he received much "nachat".
Theo was a man of exceptional intelligence with wide and deep knowledge in many areas. Although he was not a man of many words, it was always with both intellectual and emotional intelligence when he spoke.
יהי זכרו ברוך.
Danny Rosing and Orad Chidiosan (Anat's and Theo's "grandson").
Contributed by Hedva Sheiner