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Lorraine Blumenfeld Hertz carried her characteristic optimism throughout her 100 years of life.

As a young woman, she waited in Minnesota for her husband to return from a prisoner of war camp in Germany during World War II, particularly perilous as he was Jewish. After his return, Hertz eventually became a teacher while raising three children and rising to a state government role. After retiring, she advocated for stricter gun control. And when her late husband suffered from Alzheimer's, she cared for him.

Near the end of her life, she also battled Alzheimer's and went blind. But she kept her positive outlook until she died, on Dec. 6. She even continued meeting with her friends for their weekly get-togethers at Sholom Home in St. Paul "almost to the end," said Yelva Lynfield.

"She would come down in her wheelchair, and she would sit with us as we played Scrabble," said Lynfield, who called Hertz her best friend. "You can imagine how difficult it was to be blind and have Alzheimer's, but she managed."

Years ago, when the two women went out in St. Paul, Lynfield recalls her friend running into people she knew every time.

"I would be a little bit annoyed because I'd want to move on," Lynfield said, with a laugh.

Son Robert Hertz recalled his mother's generosity in helping immigrants and giving money to family members.

"She was always very generous to people who were in trouble," he said.

Hertz, raised in South St. Paul, obtained several degrees throughout her life, including a doctorate in education from the University of Minnesota. She first worked as a dietitian and then became an elementary school teacher in St. Paul.

Hertz discovered that many teachers didn't believe they had the necessary tools to help their gifted students live up to their potential. So in 1967, she became Minnesota's consultant for gifted education. She crisscrossed the state doing workshops for teachers and parents of gifted students.

She loved taking classes and even studied archaeology in preparation for a volunteer dig in Israel. Active in the community, Hertz served for three years as president of Hadassah, which raises money for schools and hospitals in Israel.

She retired from her state work in 1988, but she remained active in Democratic politics, giving special attention to gun control issues. She appeared before legislative committees and aided funding reform efforts.

She was a founding member of two long-standing book clubs and only had one complaint about her involvement, saying "They want to read too much fiction."

She collaborated with her children on a book called "I Love You So," a compilation of wartime letters she exchanged with her husband, Mark, a World War II bombardier.

Her health began to fail in recent years, and she moved into Sholom Home in St. Paul where everyone called her "Miss Lorraine."

Hertz's funeral was Dec. 10 at Beth Jacob Congregation in Mendota Heights, a synagogue her great-grandfather co-founded in 1872.

Her husband died in 2011. Survivors include her three children, Robert, Deborah and Fred; five grandchildren, and seven great-grandchildren.