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Funeral for George Rosenkranz

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Funeral: 10:30 AM Tuesday, June 25th, 2019
Congregation Beth Am
26790 Arastradero Road
Los Altos Hills, CA 94022
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Graveside: Private Service

Today, Sunday June 23rd, 2019 in Atherton California, George Rosenkranz, our dear husband, father, father-in-law, and grandfather peacefully and gracefully closed the final chapter of his most beautiful life.

At nearly 103 years old, George, Jorge, Gyuri, Schatzi, Papi, Opa as we called him was the quintessence of one who has led a life of fulfillment and transformation.

Born in 1916 as the only child to Jewish parents in Budapest, Hungary, Gyuri was blessed with great talent that would pave his road to success. As a teenager he studied piano at the Liszt Academy under Bela Bartok and received scholarships to study chemistry in Europe’s most prestigious educational centers. In Budapest Gyuri developed deep friendships that would accompany him across continents and decades.

George studied in Zurich at the ETH (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) earning a Doctorate in Chemistry while studying under Lepold Ružička, a Nobel prize winning chemist. During World War II Ružička procured a faculty position for George in Ecuador and so George found a way to leave Europe. On his way to Ecuador, George decided to stay in Cuba where he found a job as the director of a chemical manufacturing laboratory. It was in Havana that George met Edith Stein in 1941.

Edith Stein was the love of his life and Mrs. Rosenkranz since September 1945. Theirs was a marriage for the ages that defied definition and brought to life more than children and grandchildren. Schatzi, my treasure in German, as Edith and George called each other, was the leitmotif of their existence. They treasured each other, their family, their friends, their community, and their values. And together, as a couple, they became the treasured ones to so many who saw through them, a world of hope, grace, dignity and depth.

Moving to Mexico in 1945 Edith and Jorge began a new life in a country that gave them home, music and sunshine. Jorge was hired as director of a small family owned chemical laboratory. Through his talents in science, creativity, and leadership Jorge transformed this enterprise into a pharmaceutical powerhouse known as Syntex Corporation. Along the way he and his team were the first scientists to find a method for the synthesis of cortisone. Together with the brilliant young scientists he recruited, they further developed important medications such as prednisone and naprosyn. In 1951, George led and directed the research team responsible for the synthesis of Norethindrone, the first active ingredient of the birth control pill. In all he authored more than 150 publications and was named as author in 143 patents.

If you asked Jorge to rank his own achievements at work, he would unequivocally tell you that he was proudest of the professional community he created at Syntex. Yes, the discoveries were brilliant, he would agree, but they happened because he assembled a team of talented individuals who worked in concert and harmony with a spirit of friendship and optimism. He was the consummate concertmaster.

Jorge and Edith’s home was built with wisdom, patience, modesty, determination, and love. Their three sons, Roberto, Gerardo and Ricardo grew up surrounded by love and encouragement. Jorge was a devoted father who, despite his professional obligations made spending time with the family his primordial priority. No meal at home was missed, and each moment at the table was an opportunity for humor, wisdom, and encouragement.

As Jorge and Edith’s sons grew and married, three more members joined the table with Heather, Lauren and Laura. In total nine grandchildren were lucky enough to know the love, humor, and perennial wisdom of Opa. Tamara, Adrian, Monica, Lili, Tommy, Emma, Alejandro, Anna Cecilia and Sophia shared moments large and small with Opa that were always treasured for the depth of love and for his beautiful smiling grin.

George never retired. When he concluded his obligations at Syntex he pursued other passions he held even more vigorously. Of note was his life-long passion for bridge. As with everything he did, George Rosenkranz excelled in the world of duplicate bridge beyond measure. He achieved the level of life master, won 12 North American Bridge Championships, over 100 Mexican National Championships, authored 14 books on bridge and ultimately was enshrined in the ACBL Bridge Hall of Fame.

Throughout his life George was recognized privately and publicly for his achievements and his immense human qualities. Among others, he received the Biotechnology Heritage Award in 2013 and the Dr. Leopoldo Rio de la Loza Mexican National Prize in Pharmaceutical Sciences in 1994. In 2001 Jorge was proud to receive from the President of Mexico the Eduardo Liceaga Medal, Mexico’s highest honor for contributions to health sciences. On July 12, 2016 the U.S. House of Representatives officially paid a tribute to George in honor of his 100th birthday.

Humble, modest, and humorous, George accepted all the recognition and respect with perspective and gratitude. He was always philosophical, poetic, and eloquent about every aspect of his life. He offended no one and helped anyone who came along and needed assistance.

As far as the universe was concerned George was always inspired by the elegance and mystery of science. For him, science and religion were equal manifestations of the profundity of existence. That is why, he said he was an eternal optimist and romantic. Jorge most cherished his beautiful Edith, he treasured each of his children and grandchildren.

We are thankful for each and every moment we lived with George, Jorge, Gyuri, Schatzi, Papi, Opa. Every day for the past nearly 103 years, the world has been a better place because he was here to guide us. And even though we might have subscribed to the idea that he would be here forever, we have always known that his legacy will endure with each and every one of us, with each and everyone he touched, and with the millions who, on a daily basis have a better life thanks to his unending curiosity and brilliance. His memory will be a blessing forever.