Strangers did not exist in Randi Schreiber’s world. Everywhere she went she made a point of talking to people. She always made others feel important, and she knew how to make them laugh and smile.
“Everyone she met was her best friend — she talked to people as if they were longtime friends,” recalled her sister Elissa Gartenberg. If that person apologetically questioned whether they knew her, Randi always answered, “Yes. We just met a minute ago.”
Randi, who lived in Farmington Hills with her husband, Larry, and 13-year-old twins, Hannah and Joshua, died on Aug. 17, 2016, following complications from an April lung transplant at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. She was 45 years old.
Those who knew Randi describe her as someone who was always upbeat, smiling and happy. She lived every day filled with an abundance of joy, passion and a love for life, in spite of her medical issues.
“She was the most positive person with a wonderful sense of humor,” recalled her mother, Susan Gartenberg. “She was someone who lived life to the fullest and always put others first.”
Her children and her husband were the center of her world, and she was their rock and their role model, emulating so many positive attributes, including strength, optimism and kindness.
Her children recalled, “She would do anything for anyone and she was arguably the most popular mom at school. When walking through the halls of Forest Elementary School, students always swarmed around our mom because she not only remembered each of their names but often had a special song related to their names that she liked to sing to them. She was the fun mom that everyone wanted to be around.”
In an outpouring of love, friends of Hannah and Josh inundated the twins with messages of condolences and memories of their mother. One friend wrote:
“She always put others first, and now she is my motivation to do almost everything. I just think ‘what would Randi want me to do.’”
Similarly, a family friend posted on Facebook: “Randi was truly one of a kind. Everywhere she went, a joyful noise and outburst of hugs and kindness erupted around her. And yet, she never wanted to be the center of attention.”
Randi and Larry met their freshman year at Michigan State University, where Randi earned a degree in biological sciences in 1994. Although they didn’t date until after graduation, they remained close friends throughout college.
“Her positivity, wonderful sense of humor, amazing personality and kindness were apparent from the first day I met her,” said Larry. “She was extremely smart, energetic, outgoing, friendly and had a heart of gold.”
Randi worked in medical research at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor and at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. Randi loved helping others, especially with medical issues, and decided to pursue a career as a physician assistant.
She attended Midwestern University in Arizona, earning an advanced degree in physcian assistant studies in 1999, graduating summa cum laude. In addition, she served as class president and founded the student newspaper.
Randi always felt that the pinnacle of her career was working as a physician assistant at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis where she was the first physician assistant to work at the hospital’s pediatric endocrinology department. She was the primary on-site endocrine provider, performed research studies and contriuted to numerous articles published in medical journals.
“She made a connection with all her patients and was often invited to their birthday parties and graduations,” Larry said. Randi spent four years at St. Jude before returning to Michigan so she and Larry could raise their children closer to family.
Randi most recently worked at a pediatric endocrinology office in Novi until her illness required her to travel to North Carolina for treatment.
“My sister loved working with kids, and in her spare time she helped multiple people with various medical conditions by finding them the right treatment facilities, doctors or clinical trials,” said sister Lori Gartenberg. “She did this out of the kindness of her heart, and she did it for anyone who requested her assistance, even strangers.”
outpouring of love
When Randi’s health deteriorated, a high school friend reached out to her classmates from North Farmington High School and created a video montage for her. More than 50 former classmates recorded messages of encouragement for the tribute.
“She was always so friendly,” says her mother, Susan. “Even as a child, she was never judgmental. She was nice to everyone, no matter what, and her classmates remembered her for that.”
Randi Schreiber was the beloved wife of Larry Schreiber; cherished mother of Hannah Schreiber and Joshua Schreiber; devoted daughter of Susan and the late Sydney Gartenberg; loving sister of Dr. Elissa B. Gartenberg and Lori Gartenberg; adoring aunt of Sloan Gartenberg, and Alexa and Lindsey Philko; loving niece of Dr. David (Keirsten) Schwartz, Robert (Linda) Schwartz and Carol Wiseman; loving daughter-in-law of Joan and Sheldon Simons, and the late Hanley Schreiber; dear sister-in-law of Lisa (Nick) Philko; and the adored goddaughter of Judy Shapiro. She was also survived by many loving cousins and a world of friends.
Interment was at Machpelah Cemetery. Donations may be made in memory of Randi Schreiber to Duke University Lung Transplant Research; P.O. Box 103002, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC 27710, (919) 385-3100, www.gifts.duke.edu/medpp; Gift of Life-Michigan, 3861 Research Park Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108, (866) 500-5801, giftoflifefoundationmi.org/to-contribute; or St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, 501 St. Jude Place, Memphis, TN 38105, (800) 842-5123, www.stjude.org. Arrangements were by Ira Kaufman Chapel. *
By Jennifer Lovy/Special to the Jewish News