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Born Anne Ezrin, she was a "career woman" decades before the phrase ever gained currency, rising from a retail clerk after high school to become the lead buyer for women's clothing at Jay's Department Store in Boston. It's in that role that she crossed paths with Maurice Dancour, an Egyptian Jewish emigre and shop-owner in Brookline, who was immediately taken with Ezrin's savvy and beauty. They married and initially settled in Brookline.
On a visit to Rockport's Bearskin Neck in the 1970s, Anna became enamored of a children's store, the Small Fry Shop. Upon hearing the owner wished to retire, Anna offered to buy the store on the spot, and within several months she did. The store would become known in particular for selling fisherman-style sweaters for kids.
Anna embodied the values that marked so many Americans who came of age during the Depression and World War II-hard work, unshakable ethics, and a sense of dignity. If the hardships of the 1930s and '40s left a mark on Anna, it was detectable only in a practical frugality and reluctance to indulge in niceties.
The eldest child of Ida and Joseph Ezrin, Anna was born on Sept. 25, 1921. She and her younger brother and sister grew up in an apartment above their parent's grocery store in the Roxbury section of Boston that sold everything "from candy to coal." The Ezrin kids helped out in the store, particularly in latter years as their father completely lost his eyesight but continued to manage the business.
When Anna and her sister Lillian needed a practice dance partner, they trained their brother Myer for the role. He would go on to meet his wife by impressing her with his dance skills.
Through her last years and final days, Anna spoke with a flawless, "proper" Boston accent and took pride in her smooth, nearly wrinkle-free skin, which she attributed to a nightly regimen of "a thin layer" of Pond's skin cream applied before sleep. An avid reader, Anna logged the hundreds of books she read, from popular thrillers to classics.
After her husband died, Anna moved to be nearer to family-initially at the behest of her brother, which led her to joke about joining an "insisted living" facility in Longmeadow, Mass. When her brother passed away, she moved to Brighton Gardens of West Orange, N.J., to be close to family in New Jersey.
"I just love being with people," Anna told a local newspaper before her Small Fry Shop closed in the early 2000s.
And they loved being with her.
Anna is survived by two nieces and two nephews, Jane Yourish (Stuart), Andrea Silverstein (Charles), Jonathan Ezrin (Jan) and Gerald Parker (Sally); and numerous great- and great-great-nieces and -nephews.
To plant a tree in memory of Anna Dancour, please visit Tribute Store.
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