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Martin Weingarten was born amid the Spanish flu, during the most severe pandemic in recent history, the son of two candy shop owners in Austria.
He would grow into a curious and anxious teenager who would watch from his family’s fourth floor apartment as the Nazis brutally beat his Jewish neighbors on the sidewalks of Vienna.
Weingarten escaped and spent a glorious 80 years in the United States, first in New York working for his uncle and then at a U.S. Air Force base. Then in Maryland, as an employee of the United States Census Bureau.
Weingarten died April 16 in Carmel amid the world’s most recent pandemic. Coronavirus was ruled his cause of death, according to his nephew Joe Weingarten.
He never knew he had contracted COVID-19. By the time he died, Weingarten suffered from dementia, his nephew said.
But this 100-year-old man never let the trials of his life taint his outlook or destroy his goodwill.
“Oh, he was very friendly, very happy,” said Joe Weingarten, 75, of Fishers. “He was always the nicest guy in the room. He was always smiling, always one of those kind- hearted fellows.”
Weingarten was born Nov. 28, 1919 during the Spanish flu, also known as the 1918 influenza pandemic. That health crisis was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The flu spread worldwide and, from 1918 to 1919, infected 500 million people, one third of the world’s population. The number of deaths is estimated to be at least 50 million, with about 675,000 in the United States, the CDC says.
Weingarten, however, was born safely to Mancie and Isak Weingarten, the youngest of three boys.
The family lived in an apartment above the candy shop in “calm surroundings” with a “close-knit family,” Weingarten wrote in a 9-page, 45,000-word document for his family he titled “A Brief Personal History of My Self and Family.”