The latter part of the war brought many trials and much sadness to Nellie’s life.
She was interred in concentration camps, and was liberated on April 14, 1945, by the Americans.
As she could speak fluent German, Russian and English, she became a translator for the American army.
Eventually Nellie went to university in Paris, and in August 1952 married Ben Lenson, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and who went on to work as a chief pilot for the Israeli airline EL AL. Nellie became a British national in September 1952.
Ben’s job gave Nellie wonderful opportunities to travel which she enjoyed.
She had great style and glamour, and was always a wonderful flirt. She loved playing golf and bridge, going to and hosting parties, and dancing.
She also loved to gamble and recalled a time she was in Vegas with Ben and they were left with about 50 cents to get them back to New York!
She worked in film for a while. She prided herself on her memory and attention to detail as a continuity director on a number of films, and her powerful voice came to the fore. Nellie got to know celebrities – she went shopping with Faye Dunaway and was very friendly with Danny Kaye.
Nellie and Ben divorced in 1976, and she started a new career in antiques.
This is where she met Roy, who became her beloved partner for nearly 40 years.
They had much in common and were very happy together. She loved her home, her garden and her Yorkshire Terriers.
The antiques business was the centre of Nellie and Roy’s world – together as Lenson-Smith they became well known on the fairs circuit in Birmingham and London including Olympia and the Decorative fairs, and had several shops.
Roy was her partner and soul mate until he died two years ago and this ended an era for her. But her great strength of character kept her going and she continued as a central figure in the antiques world, still active until last year, aged 88.
Nellie was a strong individual – someone who, once met, was unforgettable. She had her own style, and was always immaculately dressed. She called a spade a spade and could be very direct, not always to everyone’s liking.
That is until they got to know her and discovered that she was generous, warm, and kind hearted and would help anyone.
Bruce White passed away peacefully on February 27 aged 87. He started trading in Shepherd Market, Mayfair, in 1970 under the name Buckingham Antiques, dealing mainly in “smalls”, primarily antique boxes, treen and brass goods. He was a founder member of LAPADA.
Over the last 15 years Bruce sold mainly to overseas traders and was a stallholder at major London markets, especially Bermondsey and Portobello, and fairs from Ardingly to Newark.
On graduation from Harvard in 1951 he had worked as a management consultant in Cambridge Massachusetts, and London.
He was married to Lois and has three children: Marcus, Brian and Amanda.