Sunday, March 19, 2017


1923 - 1957

Shirley Lappin  was born on July 11, 1923 to Ben and Belle Mark Lappin.  She was an only child. Belle's older sister had no children, and her youngest sister, Bertha, Mark Title gave birth to Jerry in 1929 and Judy in 1933.  These cousins were all born in Los Angeles and  raised in the southern California area.  They saw each other weekly, however, when the three families gathered at the family home in Boyle Heights every Sunday for dinner.

Shirley married Sid Priegel shortly before he went into the military service during World War II.  It was while he was overseas that Shirley was diagnosed with scleroderma, which at that time was an almost unheard of disease, and except in a few cases was almost always fatal.  Scleroderma was so rare that many physicians had never seen a case of it, and Shirley allowed herself to be examined by many physicians just so they could know what scleroderma looked like.  Her case was also written up in the prestigious JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association.)   

According to family history, she was treated at Cedars of Lebanon (now Cedars Sinai) Hospital in Los Angeles and because she and her mother had agreed to let her act as a “guinea pig,” Shirley was never charged a penny for the many, many times she was hospitalized.  During the years she lived after her diagnosis, her internal organs as well as her skin slowly hardened.  All the skin on her body became taut, which drastically changed her appearance.  It was, and is, a nasty disease.

She lived for 12 years after she was diagnosed, dying on  November 12, 1957 at the age of 34. 

She was my husband Jerry's cousin. 

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