Lillian Zarum, 96


PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Lillian Shocket Zarum died Nov. 28. She was the wife of the late Sanford S. Zarum. Born in Providence, a daughter of the late Harry and Rose (Zeidman) Shocket, she lived in Providence her entire life. She was one of the last of her generation of women who married young, saw husbands go off to war, worked to pick up the slack and then return to the role of wives and mothers when the men came home. 

She was a consummate volunteer in her community and was one of a small group of women who started The Miriam Hospital’s Gift Shop. Lillian had a gift for working with her hands and she used that skill to help patients by teaching them to wrap presents and tie ribbon for therapy. There was no formal program back in the ’50s, and she improvised manual dexterity for them and was an occupational therapist of sorts. She drove throughout Providence with her children in tow, visiting patients at their homes helping them with their recovery. 

Her friends eventually asked her to wrap their gifts. Her talent became widespread and she was able to develop a hobby into a line of work. She became a party and event planner back in the days when there was no such business. She schooled many florists who later became famous and moved on to Boston and New York. There are brides whostill remember how she calmed them down and pushed them out the door with confidence for the walk down the aisle at their own ceremonies. She was so devoted to her work that she completed a scheduled wedding 10 days after surgery for lung cancer more than 23 years ago. 

She is survived by her daughters Lynn Weingeroff and Dee Dee Witman; grandchildren Jackie Gershwind, Samantha Friedland, Zachary Witman; and Amanda Speiser; and great-grandchildren Jake, Sophie and Max Gershwind, Emmanuelle, Juliette and Hershel Friedland, and Goldie Speiser.

Contributions in her memory may be made to the Lillian Zarum Oncology Wig Fund at Miriam Hospital, 164 Summit Ave., Providence, RI 02906.