Paul Ivaska described Hermine Baron as “a truly remarkable woman. She was a fierce competitor, but at the same time she brought out the best in her partners.”
For four decades, tournament players knew that Hermine Baron was their next opponent if they spotted her trademark white table cloth and a lamp. And what an opponent she was — at the time of her death in 1996, Baron had won more than 22,600 masterpoints — the most of any woman in the U.S. She won the McKenney Trophy (now the Barry Crane Top 500) in 1964 and 1970.
Baron won six North American championships and more than 100 regional events. Most of her major titles were in women’s events, but in 1966 she and Meyer Schleifer won the Life Master Pairs, the six-session event contested for the von Zedtwitz Gold Cup.
Baron also represented the United States in world competition in 1968 and 1978. She accomplished all this while playing from a wheelchair in the days before handicap-access restrooms and ramps.
Longtime friend Paul Soloway said the wheelchair didn’t slow Baron down. “She was very upbeat about bridge. She enjoyed the game. There is no doubt that bridge was an upper for Hermine.”
Baron, a native of Omaha , contracted polio at the age of 11. She underwent lengthy rehabilitation in Warm Springs GA but had to use crutches or a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Baron moved to Southern California in the mid-Forties and took up duplicate at the urging of Arthur Baron, to whom she was married from 1954 to 1958. Once she discovered duplicate, she was hooked. She became an inveterate player and a perennial winner.
Among her partners through the years were Soloway, Mike Lawrence, Mike Passell and Mike Shuman.