Hannah Mihlstin Bodner (1891-1980)

Hannah Mihlstin Bodner was born in New York on December 31, 1891 to immigrant parents who had come to America separately from Hungary and Austria and had met in New York. Shortly after Hannah was born, they moved to Tacoma, WA, where her father worked as a roofer and builder. He was offered a job with Pope and Company in Oregon City, who gave him land to settle there. He built a home in Willamette Falls. As the only Jews in the area, the family went to Portland on holidays. A butcher in Oregon City, who no one knew was Jewish, supplied them with kosher meat. It was a struggle to maintain Jewish contacts and traditions, but they managed. The family moved back to New York in 1908 because her father was afraid his daughters might marry gentiles. In 1910 she married Jack Bodner and after they struggled in New York for a few years, he moved to Portland to find work. She joined him a year later.

The Bodners had three sons: Robert, Herbert and George. Jack opened a successful cleaning and tailoring business in Northwest Portland, outside the traditional Jewish neighborhood. Hannah sent her young children, Herbert and George, to South Portland to attend activities at the Neighborhood House. After some years the family moved back to New York again to be with her father. Back in Portland after he died, her husband also died. Hannah was hesitant to try and take over his business, but many of her husband’s patrons encouraged her, and she reopened the shop. Hannah died on January 4, 1980.

Interview(s):