An energetic social reformer, Ann Lustig Nieder worked for both Jewish and secular organizations throughout her life. Born to Ashkenazic parents, Ann grew up on Capitol Hill in Seattle. In 1945, she received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Washington in Nursing. She married Lawrence Nieder, a businessman, in 1946. They had four children. Once her children were school age, Ann devoted a large part of her life to volunteer activities in the Seattle community, serving as President of Temple De Hirsch Sinai Sisterhood, Brandeis Women’s Committee, National Council of Jewish Women, and the Washington State Jewish Historical Society. Volunteer work helps define Ann’s life, and currently she provides guidance on committees for the University of Washington.
“A lot of the women, a lot of my friends, only went one or two years [to college] and then they got married you know, at 19, 20, 21. I didn’t get married until I was 23. By then I was on old maid. Quite seriously. A boy was expected to graduate. A girl really went to college to get a husband.
“I became President of the Seattle Section of Brandeis University National Women’s Committee. And then, Bernice Stern approached seven women who were becoming active in the Jewish community and said she would like to put on a leadership seminar just for us-because they wanted us to become active in the Council of Jewish Women. We went to her house. And she gave us all these pointers about leadership and what we should be doing. And I was always in awe of that woman, and still am to this day. She’s accomplished so much. And then, in 1968, I became President of the National Council of Jewish Women (Seattle Section).”
“Several of us thought-wouldn’t it be nice if we could build a house-some kind of living quarters for people who had retired, Jewish people. Edith Weinstein never knew what the word ‘No’ meant. So we did go ahead with this. We took out a loan with Housing and Urban Development. We were allowed to build the Council House. We had a lot of help from some of the men in the community. Later we built the Roof Garden. Council House is still there today, and it’s quite a good thing. Jews and Gentiles live there. And it has fulfilled quite a need in the community.”
“In the early 1970’s everybody was just becoming aware that we had several refugee families from the Holocaust era living in Seattle, and nothing much had been done. So when I was vice president of the Anti-Defamation League I co-chaired the first Holocaust Memorial event in Washington State. We organized a conference in Olympia, and survivors and soldiers and rescuers, Jews and Gentiles, attended and spoke. When you hear it personally, it was just heart-rendering to think that these people have survived, and live a very normal, ordinary life. And this is just something I would never, ever forget. It’s probably just about the most important thing I’ve ever done. And I can’t say that I did very much of it. But I was involved with it, and I’m so glad I was.”
© 2004 Jewish Women’s Archive. Photographs by Joan Roth.