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William A. Wexler Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: Mss 342

Scope and Contents

The William A. Wexler family papers consist of correspondence, biographies, clippings, certificates, and a scrapbook, dating from 1916-2006. The William A. Wexler papers document his involvement in B'nai B'rith International. The scrapbooks contain newspaper clippings as well as brochures, pamphlets, and other materials relating to William A. Wexler.

William A. Wexler and his wife, Dorothy, were very active in many areas of Jewish leadership as well as humanitarian and civil rights activism. The Savannah Jewish Archives does not hold many of the materials regarding those activities. Some examples would be the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League, William A. Wexler’s formal and informal advisory role to presidents and other world leaders and records regarding the Savannah Jewish Federation. There are also only a few records with information regarding his practice as an optometrist. Included in this collection are many certificates and other awards of merit given to William A. Wexler.

Papers regarding Dorothy Levy Wexler are largely summaries of her activities and not records created by her. All of the letters and telegrams that were received after her death are included in the collection. These items include condolence correspondence from such notable Israeli figures as Golda Meir, Yitzhak Rabin, Menachem Begin, and Yaakov Herzog as well as the President of the United States, Richard Nixon, sitting Senators Herman Talmadge (D-GA) and Jacob Javits (R-NY), and influential rabbi Joachim Prinz.

Papers of Edward I. Wexler and his wife Mary Wexler make up a very small part of this collection. Material includes retirement ceremony pamphlets for both that contain brief biographies.

Dates

  • 1916 - 2006

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on accessing material in this collection.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply. Unpublished manuscripts are protected by copyright. Permission to publish, quote, or reproduce must be secured from the repository and the copyright holder.

Biographical / Historical

Dr. William A. “Bill” Wexler was a native of Toledo, Ohio, where he graduated from the University of Toledo. He later moved to Memphis, Tennessee to attend the Southern College of Optometry. He moved to Savannah, Georgia after marrying Dorothy Levy (1911-1969). Bill and Dorothy Wexler had three children; Dr. Allan Victor Wexler (1938-2006), Col. Edward Irwin Wexler (b. 1946), and Dr. Raymond H. Wexler (b. 1953). He practiced optometry for over 30 years in Savannah. During those years he was a leader of many Jewish organizations including: B’nai B’rith, United Jewish Appeal, and the Savannah Jewish Federation. Most notably, he served as international president of B’nai B’rith from 1965 to 1971. He was an alderman known for his civil rights and humanitarian acts and was an informal advisor to several presidents, prime ministers, and religious leaders around the world. Also, in 1972, he became a founding member of both the “Democrats for Nixon” and the “National Jewish Committee for Nixon,” organizing and campaigning for the re-election of President Richard M. Nixon. After his term as President ended, he retired to Israel, where he married Dr. Osnat Itelson (b. 1939), an obstetrician and officer in the Israel Defense Forces. He had two children with his second wife, twins Tamir and Keren (b. 1974). He died in Israel on November 30, 2000.

Dorothy Levy Wexler was a native of Savannah, Georgia and was the first wife of Dr. William A. Wexler. She was very active with B’nai B’rith as well as other Jewish organizations, especially in the women’s clubs, divisions, and charters. Upon her death at age 58 in 1969, there were over 2,000 letters and telegrams of condolence received and B’nai B’rith created the Dorothy Levy Wexler Memorial Fund in her memory. Also in 1969, a new chapter of B’nai B’rith Girls (or BBG, a high school sorority for Jewish girls) was founded and named in her memory. The Dorothy L. Wexler Chapter merged with the Janet M. Clark Chapter of BBG sometime prior to 1993 becoming Wexler/Clark BBG #39.

Colonel Edward I. Wexler is a native of Savannah, Georgia. He is the son of William A. Wexler and Dorothy Wexler. He served in the Air Force for most of his life and in 1974 joined the 165th Airlift Wing as its first full-time Air Intelligence Officer. In 2000, he became the Human Resources Officer for Georgia. He married the former Mary Witt, an Air Force nurse, in 1967. Mary W. Wexler was a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and later served as one of the first nurse practitioners in Savannah, as well as the deputy coroner for Chatham County. Together, Edward and Mary Wexler had three daughters. Mary Wexler died in Savannah on November 28, 2009, at the age of 61.

Extent

1 Linear Feet

Language of Materials

English

Abstract

Documents relating to former B’nai B’rith International President Dr. William A. Wexler (1913-2000) and his family.

Arrangement

The items have been kept in the original order in which they were found.

Custodial History

The William A. Wexler Family Papers are part of the Savannah Jewish Archives that were transferred from the Georgia Historical Society to the Breman Museum in 2015.

Separated Materials

Oversized materials removed to Oversized Collection and photographs removed to Visual Arts Collection.
Title
William A. Wexler Family Papers, Mss 342
Status
Completed
Author
Heather Kirkland (2007) and Lindsay Resnick (2015).
Date
2007
Language of description
English
Script of description
Latin

Repository Details

Part of the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum Repository

Contact:
1440 Spring St. NW
Atlanta Georgia 30309 United States
678-222-3700