Friends and colleagues of the late Gloria Meryl Halpern gathered at the theater at Montgomery College March 29 to share memories of her and present a memory book to the Halpern family.
Halpern, 56, of Potomac died in a highway accident Feb. 11 in south Florida. She was a professor of accounting at the college for more than 20 years.
Halpern was also the mother of Washington Capitals player Jeff Halpern and a longtime member of the youth hockey community in Potomac.
Halpern is survived by husband Mel Halpern of Potomac; her daughter, Dr. Jennifer Moore of Brentwood, Tenn.; her son Jeff Halpern, a National Hockey League player living in Switzerland during the NHL lockout; her parents Morton and Helen Klein of Coconut Creek, Fla.; and her sister Marilyn Smith.
More than 600 people attended Halpern's funeral at Congregation B'nai Israel in Rockville Feb. 16, but the Montgomery College event allowed a chance for colleagues and members of the wider college community to talk at length about their friend.
The event was organized by accounting professor Robert Laycock and Dr. Shah Mehrabi, chairman of the department of business and economics.
"She did all her work with a lot of grace," Mehrabi said in an interview. "She was humble in many ways, very dignified, full of integrity. She worked very hard."
Mehrabi said that when word of Halpern's death spread, the department office quickly became a center for the grieving community — including not only current students and faculty but students and friends from the past 20 years. The department set out books in which the mourners recorded memories of Halpern and messages to her family.
"They filled not one book but two or three or four books," Mehrabi said. "Her husband once said that she didn't want to be praised, but I think the memorial service was full of praises for her accomplishment ... as a teacher, as a colleague and a close friend, and as a person who had given of herself tirelessly."
Laycock, a friend of 25 years called her "the most wonderful person imaginable."
A scholarship fund has been established at the college in Halpern's memory. The Gloria Halpern Scholarship and Assistance Fund got an early boost from Wiley and Sons Publishers, with whom Halpern had worked developing textbooks. The company donated $5,000 and will donate an additional $3 for each accounting book sold at Montgomery College next year. The fund will make its first awards at the honors convocation in May.