After becoming president of the Temple Sinai Sisterhood, Flo Leebov told her young daughter, Linda, that perhaps one day she too might attain the position. According to family lore, Linda replied, “I don’t want to be president of the Sisterhood. I want to be president of the Temple.” Years later, she was.
Linda (Leebov) Goldston, 72, passed away Saturday, Nov. 15. Championed for both her pioneering professionalism and philanthropic endeavors, Goldston will be long remembered by family, friends and colleagues, those who knew her said.
In 1964, Goldston entered the University of Pittsburgh’s law school as one of a few females in her class. After graduating in 1967, she joined the law firm of fellow Pittsburgher Phillip Baskin. Eventually, Goldston became a partner at the firm, a position that she held for more than two decades. During her tenure, she was a member of the board of directors and chaired the corporate, estate and tax department. Between 1988 and 2000, Goldston served as the founding partner and president of Wittlin, Goldston & Caputo, P.C. In 2000, she joined McGuire Woods as a partner, and, in 2005, became of counsel to Leger & Ball, P.C.
During her nearly five decades of legal work, Goldston focused on liquor control and licensing matters, corporate law, estate planning and administration.
“She used to say that she got her kicks solving other people’s problems,” said Larry Landis, Goldston’s cousin.
Landis practiced law with Goldston for three years and called her “an extremely hard worker” with an uncanny commitment to clients.
“If you were a client of hers, you could call her 24/7,” said Landis. “She was a mountain mover. If a client wanted something done, she would move mountains to get it done. There was never an attorney more devoted to her clients.”
William G. Ball of Fiscus & Ball, P.C., stated: “Linda was considered an innovator in the Pittsburgh legal community, paving the way for many other women attorneys. She built a very successful food, beverage and entertainment practice and represented many local, regional and national business interests. We at Fiscus & Ball are deeply saddened by her passing and will miss her both professionally and personally.”
Goldston’s steadfast devotion extended beyond law. For decades, she was an integral member of Temple Sinai. Between 1983 and 1985, Goldston served as president of the temple, a position previously unattained by a woman.
Rabbi James Gibson of Temple Sinai described Goldston as someone with a “powerful personality” and a “pioneer who never lost the human touch.” He served as Goldston’s rabbi for nearly two decades. During that span, the two worked closely to build the congregation.
“She and I worked very hard to forge a common vision for this synagogue, the result being that the synagogue has experienced unprecedented growth,” said Gibson. “Her drive, leadership, and philanthropy were all contributing factors in our success.”
Apart from Temple Sinai, Goldston supported several other communal endeavors.
Sharon Perelman, Foundation associate director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Pittsburgh, called Goldston “an advocate of the Foundation” and claimed that she was “very active in the community facilitating charitable gifts.”
In memory of their son, Goldston and her husband, Ed, developed the Samuel M. Goldston Teen Philanthropy Project. Open to teens in the seventh and eighth grades, the project teaches the responsibilities of philanthropy. Specifically through innovative programming, participants review grant proposals, make site visits, discuss funding priorities and ultimately make allocations to local, national and international organizations.
According to Perelman, the Goldston project has distributed in excess of $100,000. “She got pleasure seeing what the kids were doing,” said Perelman.
Linda Myers, advancement director at Carnegie Mellon University and formerly associate director of Hillel JUC, said, “[Goldston’s] generosity was known everywhere.”
At the Jewish Federations of North America, Goldston was included on its Lion of Judah Endowment Honor Roll.
In Pittsburgh, she and her husband generously supported Hillel JUC and its Campus Superstar program — an annual solo singing competition featuring Pittsburgh-area college students.
Myers said that Goldson gravitated toward the program because it “combined her love for Jewish community and her personal love of theater.”
Myers added that Goldston would often pass along the names of Campus Superstar finalists to her friend, Marvin Hamlisch, the former principal Pops conductor for the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
“She told him that those people were going to be in Broadway, and she was right,” said Myers.
Myers recognized Goldston’s philanthropic nature but added, “What was really special about her was it really, really came from deep within. It was embedded; she loved helping people. It was about touching people’s lives.”
Goldston is survived by her husband, Edward M. Goldston; mother Florence Leebov; sister Wendy Leebov (Janet Kole); niece Bluma Sheindel Bank; and good friend Dr. H. Jerome Zoffer. Goldston was the mother of Joe (Jennifer) Goldston and the late Sam Goldston. She was loving Amma of Sam, Marilyn and Judah.
Adam Reinherz can be reached at email@example.com.