Sunday, February 11, 2018

52 Ancestors: Favorite Name

This week’s prompt is:  Favorite Name

I don’t know that I have a favorite name among my ancestors – what I do like is when someone is named for an ancestor, a memory, or something else that held a memory for those who named them. 

There are different Jewish naming traditions – some Jewish families (Ashkenazi) name a newborn after a deceased relative , while others (Sephardic) may honor a living family member.  Or, some parents use only the first letter of the relative’s name, while others may choose a name that is not identical, but rather similar in sound, spelling or some other manner. One additional way to honor and commemorate through the name is to make a newborn child’s middle name, as opposed to the first name, similar or identical to that of a special relative.

Since today would have been my Dad’s 91st birthday, I will start with him – Gordon Floyd Levy. 

Gordon 1933
Gordon Floyd Levy – c. 1933

The name Gordon is in memory of his paternal grandmother, Goldie Benas Levy, who died 19 Jan 1926, just over a year before Dad was born.  And I believe Floyd came from the long-time family physician, Floyd L. R. Burks.  I wrote a little about him HERE

My mother, Geraldine Martin, told me once that her name, had she been a boy, would have been Fitzgerald, her mother’s maiden name.  While she didn’t care for the name Geraldine (a nod to the name Fitzgerald), we both laughed that she got the better end of the deal. 

Geraldine c 1932
Geraldine Martin – c. 1932

Mom was not given a middle name, but somewhere along the line she ‘adopted’ the name Ann in order to honor her great aunt, Anna Theresa Fitzgerald Sronce, who she lived with for a period of time as her parents were going through a divorce.  And, thus, she passed the name on to me as my middle name.

When our oldest daughter was born, we decided to give her the middle name of Rebecca as that was what I was originally going to be named.  And the first time my grandmothers met her, they both told me that their ‘favorite’ grandmother was named Rebecca.  I never let on that I hadn’t known that in advance!

Rebecca Moriah Waller 1920
Rebecca Waller McAboy
Grandmother of my maternal grandmother, Clara Fitzgerald

Rebecca Steen cropped
Rebecca Steen Schwartz
Grandmother of my paternal grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer

Not wanting my youngest daughter to feel left out, when we named her we asked Daughter #1 what she wanted to name her and she came up with the name Kristi.  We took that suggestion and gave her the middle name of Kristina so while not named after someone, she was named because of someone.

And that leads to my grandmother, Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer.  I never knew my grandmother by any name other than Loraine – I can’t blame her for that, who would want to go by Mildred?  And she was always Grandma Loraine rather than Grandma Levy, Nanna, Granny, or any other endearing name. 

Loraine c1898  w daisies
Mildred Loraine Gunzendorfer – c. 1898

My dad’s brother, Robert Levy, was likely named for Rebecca Steen Schwartz (above) who died about 18 months before Robert was born.  And his middle name was Sigmund after his father.

And that leads to two of my grandchildren.  Our oldest grandson has the middle name of Austen, which is very cool for a family with no sons.  And our youngest granddaughter’s middle name is Loraine, after her 2x great grandmother who she never knew.  I think she looks a little bit like her and I also think she’s going to have her spunk!


  1. Wonderful post---naming traditions are so moving. Your story about Rebecca reminds me of the story of my brother's name. He was named Ira for our grandfather Isadore, who died when my mother was about seven months pregnant with Ira. We never knew who Isadore was named for until I started doing genealogy. Then we learned from his father's marriage record that Isadore was named for his paternal grandfather---whose Hebrew name was Ira. So my parents had unknowingly picked the name that was the name of my brother's great-great-grandfather as well as the name of his grandfather.

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