October 24, 1924 - September 7, 2012
Sol "Slick" Halfon of Beverly Hills passed away peacefully Friday morning (September 7, 2012), in his home surrounded by his wife and his three children, following a long battle with a neurodegenerative disorder. He was just shy of his 88th birthday. He was born on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in 1924, the second child of Nissim and Lenora Halfon. He grew up on Hooper Street in Williamsburg, attending PS 16 and Eastern District High School. He developed his baseball pitching skills on the streets of Brooklyn, and his unmatched salesmanship working alongside his father in his concession stands on the Staten Island Ferry and at St Nicholas Auditorium. A lifelong Giants fan, he suffered the hazing of his Yankee rooting brother, and Dodger loving father, which resulted in his mother serving most of his meals in his room during baseball season. He got his nickname "Slick" soon after his bar-mitzvah, while burnishing his skills in Brooklyn's pool halls. The nickname served him well when he started boxing in local clubs, and as he became ping pong ace with his neighborhood pals. When WW II broke out he was sixteen, enlisting in the Navy at his first opportunity, and sailing off to D-Day as a radioman on the LST 73. En route to the beaches in Normandy, he distinguished himself as ping pong champ of his ship, and was ferried from boat to boat, challenging the best players on other ships, as they crossed the Atlantic. After the war, he followed his parents to Los Angeles, attending the University of Southern California, and becoming a pharmacist. He met and married his beloved wife Catherine Cohen, daughter of Marco and Amelie Cohen, through the tight-knit Sephardic community of Jews who hailed from the island of Rhodes, where each of their parents were born. He launched his career working for Thrifty Drugs in Los Angeles and Banner Drug in Redondo Beach, and then struck out on his own to establish the Morningside Medical Pharmacy, on Manchester Blvd in Los Angeles, and Hillcrest Medical Pharmacy in Inglewood. For the next 30 years, he was an ever beaming and friendly presence inside the pharmacy and a frequent volunteer in his community. He served as a volunteer pharmacist at the Los Angeles Free Clinic for many years, during its early days, in the late 1960s. He was an active member of his synagogue, the Sephardic Hebrew Center, and later at Sephardic Temple Tiferet Israel in Westwood. He was president of the Sephardic Home for the Aged, and served on the board of the Jewish Home for the Aged. He helped establish Maimonides Academy, Jewish Yeshiva in the Mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles. His greatest joy came from his dedication to helping children. An avid baseball fan, and frustrated pitcher, who aspired but never made it to the big leagues, he spent 14 years coaching little league in Beverly Hills at Roxbury Park. Even after his sons Neal and Marty aged out of Little League, Slick continued to coach for more than a decade. It was not unusual for kids to ride their bikes to Coach Slick's home on Bedford Drive, during the off season, to see if he could come out and play with them on street in front of his house. One of his friends observed "that you can take the kid out of Brooklyn, but you can never take Brooklyn out of the kid". Even after starting their own professional careers as doctors, attorneys and bankers, many of his former Little League players would seek him out to thank him for his dedication, for many lessons, and for giving them a lifelong love of baseball. He instilled in his own children and grandchildren not only a deep sense of gratitude, a commitment to public service, and an irrational dedication to the SF Giants. Later, and as the epitome of the doting grandfather, it was not unusual for Slick to show up at dawn, outside the house of one of his own kids, waiting for everyone to wake up so he could assume his grandfatherly duties of feeding and playing, and teaching them to enjoy life as he did. He will be remembered for his lively love of people, his exuberant sense of humor, and the ever present twinkle in his eye. He is survived by his devoted and adored wife of 63 years, Catherine Halfon, and children Neal (Jessica Laufer), Lianne (Michael Bortman), and Marty (Eden Small), and grandchildren Ethan Berger, Isaac Halfon, Emma Halfon, Caitlyn Halfon, and Sam Halfon.