February 27, 2020

Hilda Eisen, Holocaust Survivor, Philanthropist, 100

Hilda Eisen, who with her late husband, Harry, ran led the Lodzer Organization of Southern California for 25 years, died on Nov. 22. She was 100.

The Lodzer Organization of Southern California consisted of Holocaust survivors who donated to local causes and to Israel.

She was born Hilda Gimpel in Izbica Kujawska, Poland, on April 25, 1917, the second of seven children. Her father ran a bakery and her mother was a grain dealer. According to her testimony at the USC Shoah Foundation, recorded in the summer of 2001, her family spoke Yiddish at home, kept kosher and observed Shabbat.

Hilda, who had joined the Jewish Resistance after persuading a Nazi guard to open the Lublin ghetto gate for her in 1942, became a partisan fighter in the Parczew forest. She lost her parents and her six brothers and sisters in Nazi death camps, the Los Angeles Times reported.

Harry survived Auschwitz, where he was put to work in the coal mines, the Times reported.

“They didn’t feel comfortable burdening their children with horror stories,” her daughter, Fran Miller, told the Times in 2012. But, she said, “they were able to take their grief and become very philanthropic about it and very Zionistic and very into giving back. They felt fortunate to be on the giving end of charity rather than the receiving end.”

Hilda had gone to school with Harry and married him in Munich in 1945. When the couple immigrated to the United States in 1948, they spoke no English and had no money.

Saving enough money to buy their first 100 chickens, the Eisens launched a backyard operation in Arcadia and sold the eggs in their neighborhood. They moved their growing operation to Norco in the 1950s.

Norco Ranch Inc. in western Riverside County became one of the state’s leading egg producers, processors and distributors. By 2000, when the Eisens sold Norco Ranch Inc. to Missouri-based Moark, it had a staff of about 450 people and a list of major customers that included the Ralphs division of Kroger, the Vons division of Safeway, Albertson’s, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Jack-in-the-Box, the Times reported. Until 2005, it was the largest egg producer west of the Mississippi.

In 2016, Hilda donated an ambulance to Magen David Adom in honor of her 99th birthday and in memory of her husband, Harry, who died in 2012 at age 95.

Eisen is survived by daughters Mary Cramer, Fran Miller and Ruth Eisen; 8 grandchildren and 6 great-grandchildren.