On Feb. 14, Ida Libert Uchill of Bethesda. Uchill was born Dec.10, 1917, on a farm just outside Denver, Colo., in Edgewater, to Fannie Pepper Libert and Paul Libert, who respectively immigrated from Poland and Ukraine. She spent the first 85 years of her life in Colorado and moved east after the death of her husband of 60 years, Sam Uchill, to be near her daughters and family.
She resided for almost 10 years in Bethesda, where her younger daughter, Vicki Uchill, lived close by and moved in with her during her final five years. In the last nine months, they relocated to an independent living facility in Rockville. She passed away in a Bethesda hospital a week after sustaining a major stroke.
Uchill began her writing career as junior in high school, writing a column for the children’s section of The Denver Post.
A journalism and history graduate of the University of Colorado, she became a writer, journalist and lecturer for the rest of her life, specializing in Colorado and Colorado Jewish history. In her early career, Ms. Uchill wrote for a variety of trade journals in the liquor, dog, fashion and livestock industries.
Her first book, Pioneers, Peddlers and Tsadikim: The Story of Jews in Colorado, an original and definitive history of Colorado Jewry, was published by Sage Press in 1957. Demand for the book was so sustained that a second edition was released and, in 2000, a third edition by the University Press of Colorado, when she was 80 years old. Uchill, whose books are still available online, learned how to use a MacBook at the age of 90.
She also wrote articles on Denver and Colorado Jewry for the first edition of Encyclopedia Judaica and the travel section of Hadassah Magazine; contributed to West Side Story Revisited, a history of the Jews of Denver’s West Side; and served as state president and president emeritus of the National League of American PENwomen and as a member of the Colorado Author’s League.
Her accolades included a spot on Radcliffe College’s Notable American Women and her listing in Who’s Who in Colorado, 1958.
Uchill, many of whose relatives were killed in the Holocaust, was also a lifelong activist on behalf of Israel and the Jewish community. In college, she wrote letters to the State Department urging the U.S. to rescue Jews from the Holocaust. Later, she did the same on behalf of Soviet Jewry. She continued this practice throughout her life, writing to print and electronic media and government agencies on such subjects as anti-Semitism and terrorism.
Funeral services for Uchill took place Feb. 16 at Kol Shalom synagogue in Rockville. Rabbi Jonathan Maltzman of Kol Shalom and Rabbi Clifford B. Miller, her son-in-law, officiated.
Ms. Uchill was the mother of Dr. Deborah Uchill Miller (Rabbi Clifford Miller) of Caldwell, N.J., and Vicki L. Uchill of Bethesda; the grandmother of Arielle Miller of West Orange, N.J., and Adinah Miller of Greensboro, N,C.; and the great-grandmother of Ezekiel Akiba Timen, Zohar Samantha Lileet Timen and Eitan Nadiv Miller Feder.
Memorial contributions be made to the Koby Mandell Foundation, which provides counseling and camp experiences for Israeli terror victims and support to their families; and Meir Panim, which aids the impoverished in Israel.