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Rachel (Raquel) Silverstone was born in Barcelona, Spain, on May 15, 1931, to Ascension Magan Noguera and Lazaro Noguera. She and her three older sisters became orphans during the Spanish Civil War and grew up under the rule of dictator Francisco Franco. The sisters were determined to remain together despite attempts to separate them and eventually moved to the island of Mallorca to live with relatives. At 18, Rachel studied nursing with the Red Cross and obtained her R.N license. Her first job was in London, working on the ward for the criminally insane. She brought knowledge and compassion to every patient. Later, she continued her nursing career in Paris, France, and Lausanne, Switzerland, where she first met Irwin Silverstone at the Café Duomo while he was in medical school on the G.I. Bill. They married on Bastille Day, 1957, and returned to the United States, living in Newark, New Jersey, and Livonia, Michigan, before settling to raise their family in Ohio, where she became a member of the League of Women Voters.
Rachel developed a deep love for animals at a very young age. She insisted the family chicken be spared from the dinner table and ended up keeping it as a pet for its entire life. Over the years her love grew into life-long passion and dedication. With her husband, Irwin, the couple took in and adopted countless stray and abandoned dogs and cats. Along the way she made many friends and allies which led to her becoming the driving force behind the establishment of the Tuscarawas County Humane Society. During the early 1970s she learned that the dogs held at the county pound were not being fed over the weekend due to lack of staff. She brought together volunteers who worked to bridge the gap to care for the animals and set up adoptions. Rachel wrote many letters to the editor regarding animal issues. Her group raised awareness, held educational programs, developed fundraising through bingo and “Pets with Santa” photos, established the weekly “Hot Dog” and “Cool Cats” columns in The Times Reporter, implemented very popular neuter and spay coupons, assisted with animal rescues at the request of law enforcement, and saved innumerable abused and neglected animals. The Humane Society stands as a testament to the love and determination Rachel had for helping all creatures, great and small, and her commitment to social justice. That was her mission in life and her kindness was unbounded. A true trailblazer, her efforts are still bearing fruit as a new generation follows in her footsteps. Rachel leaves behind an enduring legacy of animal rights advocacy as the original humane society continues to thrive.
She loved reading, listening to the music of Joan Baez, had a great sense of humor, and enjoyed cooking a terrific paella (Spanish Rice). A devoted swimmer for 30 years, she would arrive at the YMCA daily at 6:00 a.m. when the doors opened. She was a much-beloved force of nature and as her closest friend said, “you only get one friend like Rachel Silverstone in your life.”
Her husband preceded her in death, as did sisters Maruchi Noguera of Caracas, Venezuela, and Antonia Noguera de Garcia, of Mallorca, Spain. She is survived by her son William (Annette) of Youngstown, Ohio, daughter Aileen of West Hollywood, California, son Andrew (Cristina), granddaughter Alexandra of Virginia Beach, Virginia, and a sister, Ascension (Sunti) Noguera de Bonet, of Cararas. Her remains will be interred at Beth Israel Cemetery in Woodbridge, New Jersey.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Tuscarawas County Humane Society, 1432 Tall Timber Road NE, New Philadelphia, OH 44663.
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