Jewish Couple Among Confirmed Dead in Houston Flood


Jack Howard AlterAuthorities have confirmed the death of Houstonian Jack Howard Alter, 87, who drowned in flash flooding along Brays Bayou Tuesday morning, May 26. His wife, Shirley Wesler Alter, 85, also drowned in the flood after their rescue boat capsized.

Tank workers at the Houston Ship Channel discovered human remains late Thursday night, May 28. The Harris County Institute of Forensic Science confirmed Friday morning, May 29, that the body was that of Jack Alter.

The Alters’ three children and their families received notification at 11:15 a.m. while meeting with rabbis at Congregation Beth Yeshurun to confirm funeral arrangements.

“It hit the family hard,” said Robin Alter, one of Jack and Shirley’s daughters-in-law. “But, at the same time, it was also a relief.

“It’s good that a positive I.D. was made. If it wasn’t a positive I.D., we’d still be wondering,” she told the JHV.

A double funeral and memorial service for Shirley and Jack Alter will take place Sunday, May 31, at 1 p.m., at Beth Yeshurun synagogue, followed by a graveside service at Beth Yeshurun cemetery, 1037 N. Post Oak Rd.

A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter recovered Shirley Alter’s remains from a tree near Macgregor Park on Tuesday morning, May 26.

Shirley and Jack Alter and their 55-year-old daughter were stranded outside a family home in the 5000 block of N. Braeswood Boulevard when flash flooding hit Houston Monday night, causing the banks of Brays Bayou to crest. They were picked up by a Houston Fire Department rescue boat at around 7 a.m. on Tuesday. Minutes later, the boat capsized and the Alters were taken away by the current, according to the daughter, who survived the disaster.

The Alters were married 63 years. They were active members of Congregation Beth Yeshurun and volunteered at Holocaust Museum Houston. Jack was a World War II veteran. Shirley was a native Houstonian.

Jack Alter’s death brings the total count of fatalities related to the Memorial Day flood to seven and accounts for all missing individuals, according to authorities.




  1. Our family was friends with the Alters when we lived in Houston. This is a tremendous tragedy. Deepest condolences to the family.

    Roger, Patti, Jocelyn and Amelia