Inseparable Bernice and Sylvan Simon remembered as ‘very much in love’

They were together 62 years.

A man visits a memorial outside of the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, pausing in front of the tribute to Sylvan and Bernie Stein.

A man visits a memorial outside of the Tree of Life Congregation Synagogue in Squirrel Hill, pausing in front of the tribute to Sylvan and Bernie Stein.

Cara Owsley/USA Today Network
Rossilynne Culgan

Even as a kid, Sheldon Miller could tell there was something special about his neighbors.

“They were always outside smiling. They seemed very much in love,” said Miller, of Squirrel Hill. “They would sit close on folding chairs and hold hands.”

Miller shared his memories Thursday after paying respects at Ralph Schugar Funeral Chapel to Bernice and Sylvan Simon of Wilkinsburg, who were fatally shot at their Squirrel Hill synagogue on Saturday. Nearly a dozen police officers patrolled outside the chapel and directed Shadyside traffic.

Bernice Ruth (Rothenburg) Simon was 84. Her husband Sylvan Simon was 86. They are survived by three children, grandchildren who called them “Bobie” and “Zadie,” and many other family members, per their obituary.

“Our parents did everything together as a married couple. They were deeply in love with each other and persevered in the tragic loss of a son in 2010,” their children said in a statement. “As long-time and deeply rooted Pittsburgh residents, their life together began 62 years ago and forever ended last Saturday in the exact same chapel where they were wed. What my mother and father witnessed and endured is utterly unspeakable.”

“They were inseparable,” said David Wolf, of Squirrel Hill, who previously attended Tree of Life. “If you saw Bernice, you’d see Sylvan. If you saw Sylvan, you’d see Bernice.”

Wolf described them as active members of Tree of Life “who lit up the room.”

“They were always together, and they were always happy,” Wolf said. “Their life was being at Tree of Life.”

Pam Glaser, a neighbor of the couple in Wilkinsburg, knew the Simons for two decades. They used to meet up to walk their pugs, Glaser’s named Ming-Toi and the Simons’ named Max.

She remembers that Bernice was always done up — “her hair was done; her nails were done.” She also recalls Bernice’s baking abilities, saying she always made cookies and brownies if somebody had a death in their family.

“It’s a void,” Glaser said. “You look at the house and you expect them to come out.”

Another funeral will be held at 4 p.m. today for Dr. Richard Gottfried, 65, of Ross Township.

Seven other shooting victims — Joyce Fienberg, 75; Dr. Jerry Rabinowitz, 66; brothers Cecil, 59, and David Rosenthal, 54; Daniel Stein, 71; Melvin Wax, 87; and Irving Younger, 69 — have already been buried.

Rose Mallinger, 97, will be buried Friday.