Irene Greenstein, stylish but maybe not cook, dies at 97


Irene Susanne Greenstein, who lived in Long Beach from the late 1940s until 2012, died Dec. 2, 2022. She had most recently been living in the Boston suburb of Wellesley.

She was 97.

She was born in the Bronx in December 1924 and, her family said, as a child she loved to dance and joined a dance traveling group when she was in her 20s. She tried out unsuccessfully for the famed Rockettes. They recall her saying, “Eh, I didn’t make it because I was too short. Their loss.”

Greenstein had an eye-catching sartorial sense, which led to her meeting the man she would marry, Jacob “Jack” Greenstein, at a dance in New York City that ended up cancelled. They were in their mid-20s and stood outside the dance hall trying to decide what to do. Greenstein, the family said, noticed “a great beauty in a standout red dress.”

They married in 1949, and the marriage lasted almost 70 years until her husband’s death in 2018, at age 95.

Irene Greenstein worked at Fortunoff’s department store in Westbury as one of the store’s well-known perfume and makeup girls.

She loved to travel, and with her husband, visited Thailand, Hong Kong, Russia and Egypt. The family lore has it that an Egyptian sheikh was so impressed with her that he invited her to his palace and tried to add her to his harem.  But her husband decided they should not give up their passports.

The family said that as talented as she was, she was no cook. She burned almost any meat she cooked. That did not always sit well with her husband who was a butcher.

The family said her egg salad was famous, mostly because it was always filled with eggshells.

She liked to say that she brought so much else to the table. “Jack didn’t mind that I wasn’t a great cook,” the family reported her saying. “I always kept him happy anyway.”

Two sons, Gary Greenstein of Boston and Glenn, of Long Beach, survive her. A daughter, Sharon Glazer, of Commack, preceded her in death, in 2000. Grandchildren and a great-grandchild survive.

A private graveside service was held.