Full Name: Leila Joy Braimon
Date of Death: Thursday, November 25, 2021
Leila Joy Braimon (May 14, 1931 – November 25, 2021) was an independent and resilient woman with a great sense of humor and an even greater thick head of hair. She had strong opinions and wasn’t shy about expressing them. She was born and raised during the Depression in Borough Park, Brooklyn by her parents Florence and Jack Finklestein. Often teased by kids for her weight (she wasn’t fat) and disciplined with rulers by teachers (she was unruly), Leila developed a thick skin and could be quite intimidating. She was fond of asking a lot of questions, sometimes quite personal…think of Bea Arthur’s “Maude” character and you’re not far off. (She often admired Bea’s wardrobe). Leila was fascinated with the medical field and had a mind for all things medicine. After graduating high school, she worked as a lab technician/phlebotomist. She met her first husband in the Catskills, married at 20, and put her career on hold to support his pharmaceutical studies. She had 4 children: Margo b.1954, Jeffrey b.1955, Jennifer (Jenny) b.1965, and Roger b.1967. She never lost interest in medicine and was always researching medical conditions in her Merck Manual. Leila was divorced from an unhappy marriage at 44, at a time when divorce was shamed. She had to enter the workforce for the first time and found a job cleaning medical equipment while moonlighting: she sold custom printed t-shirts and jeans made at home, and had an unsuccessful stint at breeding Great Danes (one bit Jenny). She later co-owned several Italian delicatessens with her second husband Charles Cartalemi.
Although Jewish, and not the best of cooks, Leila learned how to make mozzarella from curd and enjoyed kibitzing with customers during the busiest times. She loved working with her hands, whether assembling doll houses and six-foot heros, making copies of paintings, knitting, and undertaking multiple home projects. She loved pets, and had dogs and birds throughout her life. She read books voraciously, using her daughter’s identity to take out books from the public library, due to her delinquent non-return of “The Joy of Cooking.” She was computer savvy, one of the first Macintosh users, and surfed internet conspiracy theories with relative ease well into her 80’s. She befriended people on “ICQ” from as far as Australia and Scotland, who came to visit after her hip surgery. As her life slowed down, she endured several family deaths (her son Jeffrey, husband Charlie, granddaughter Jessica, brother David and sister-in-law Ruth) and lost close friends soon after. Life didn’t get any easier as her health, hearing, sight, and mobility declined, yet her mind and voice remained forceful. She lived on her own until 90, and was cared for and taken in by her daughter Margo. She loved her family in her own special way, and yet never had a name for any of her birds (they were just called “Bird”.)
Leila was preceded in death by her parents (Florence and Jack Finklestein), brother and sister-in-law (David and Ruth Stone), son (Jeffrey Braimon), husband (Charles Cartalemi), granddaughter (Jessica Patterson), and son-in-law (Charles Schmidt).
She is survived by a loving family: her daughter Margo (the reigning oldest Braimon), her successful Endocrinologist daughter Jennifer, her gay, single and young-looking son Roger, her daughters-in-law Jane and Jeanie, son-in law Jeff, grandchildren Daniel, Sheena, Jason, Jordan, Max, Rebecca, and Sarah, nephew Steven and niece Laura.