June 29, 2022 [St. Petersburg, FL] — With a heavy heart we say goodbye to a community legend, but Alice (Lisl) Schick’s family and friends tell us she would want her life to be celebrated as a life greatly lived. Lovingly adored by her family, friends, and the entire Tampa Bay community, Lisl passed away surrounded by her devoted family on June 28, 2022, at Royal Palms Senior Living in Largo, Florida. Through The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM), Lisl was able to fulfill her life’s mission of teaching the lessons of the Holocaust to thousands of individuals, in the hopes of creating a better world.
Lisl was born in Vienna, Austria in 1927 to Paul and Charlotte Porges. In 1938, after the Nazis’ occupation of Austria, Lisl’s parents made the almost inconceivable decision to put her and her brother Walter, at the ages of 11 and 7, on the Kindertransport- a rescue operation that offered refuge in England to ultimately 10,000 Jewish children. They were separated from their parents for almost seven years, but this brave decision saved her, and her brother’s lives. Lisl’s quote, memorialized in a photograph taken as part of The FHM’s exhibition Fragments: Portraits of Survivors, read: “My parents gave birth to me twice. Once when I was born and once when they put me on the Kindertransport.” Of the 10,000 children saved by the Kindertransport, only 1,000 ever saw their parents again. 1.5 million children were murdered during the Holocaust.
Lisl’s story continued with a reunion with her family in New York City in 1945, where they began a new life. She was introduced to a fellow Viennese Holocaust refugee, Alfred Schick, who after his escape to America served in the U.S. Army and attended medical school in the U.S. Their mothers had coincidentally attended the same high school in Vienna and ran into each other on the streets of New York after escaping Austria. They introduced their children to each other, and the rest was history. Al and Lisl married in 1949 and later moved to Clearwater, where he became Morton Plant Hospital’s first Board-certified radiologist as well as the first Jewish doctor in the area.
Lisl’s ultimate goal was to diminish the tragedies of incomprehensible genocide, prejudice, and hatred through education and telling her story. She worked tirelessly with the team at The Florida Holocaust Museum to ensure the Holocaust would never be forgotten and to teach its crucial life lessons. She was often quoted: “The answer to prejudice is education.” Lisl’s presentations focused on whole-life lessons learned from the Holocaust, and not on its horrors or death. When she spoke to school children visiting the Museum, she would take a piece of clean, white paper and crumble it in her fist – a visual illustration of the power of hateful words and how they cannot be undone. In this way, she brilliantly but simply explained the lessons of being an up-stander, not a bystander, when witnessing cruelty, bigotry, and bullying.
Kate, one of the thousands of elementary school students lucky enough to hear Lisl’s presentation, wrote: “Dear Mrs. Schick, I know you are very brave for helping your family in the hard times. This was such an amazing journey and I hope that you get to share it with the whole world.” Lisl certainly did that.
Over the years, Lisl was recognized and honored numerous times. In March of 2021, she was named “Tampa Bay’s Most Remarkable Woman” by NBC’s WFLA-TV affiliate station, including a $1,000 award gift to the Museum. Another highlight throwing the first pitch at the sold–out Tampa Bay Rays/New York Yankees game at Tropicana Field in 2019. In addition to Lisl’s honor, The Florida Holocaust Museum received a $10,000 donation. Lisl is also the subject of the Museum’s current exhibit The Wartime Escape of Lisl Porges (on display through the fall of 2022) and was pleased to attend several fundraising events in her honor this spring.
In addition to her extensive volunteer work and Board membership at the Museum, Lisl (along with her late husband) was extremely active in many community and national organizations. These include serving as a Vice President on the National Board of Hadassah, the largest women’s Zionist organization in the world; co-founders of Ruth Eckerd Hall; and leadership roles at Temple B’nai Israel, Gulf Coast Jewish Federation, Morton Plant-Mease Foundation, and Gulf Coast Jewish Family Services.
Lisl often said her large and loving family was her personal revenge to Hitler. She is survived by her four devoted children: Ken (Cindy), Nancy Greenberg (Will), Rob (Barbara), and Kathy Madow (Evan); 12 grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
There will be a Celebration of Life on Sunday, July 17- which, coincidentally, was Lisl and her late husband’s wedding anniversary. Details to follow.
In lieu of flowers, Lisl’s family has asked that those seeking to honor her please send donations to her beloved Florida Holocaust Museum, in honor of her remarkable life.