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Memorial for Barbara Cohen Rosenberg

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Graveside: Private Service
Memorial Contribution: Jewish Home & Senior Living Foundation
302 Silver Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94112
(415) 406-1107

Barbara Cohen Rosenberg

July 13, 1932 - May 4, 2024

Barbara Cohen Rosenberg passed away peacefully on May 4, 2024. She was born on July 13, 1932, in Fall River, MA at the height of the Great Depression. Her father, Lester Cohen, was a serial entrepreneur who was known to have succeeded and failed several times during his career. Her mother, Anna was one of nine children. From her parents, Barbara owed her love of family and eternal optimism and positive attitude for which she was famous. Her nickname was "Fun Barb" and while she was a high school teacher in Marin County, her students loved it when she zipped into the school parking lot in her bright red MGB convertible.

After graduating from H.M.S. Durfee High School in Fall River, Barbara attended Brandeis University in Boston where she received a B.A. in English. She followed up with a master's degree at Harvard University and obtained her teaching credential. Beginning her long career in education, Barbara got a job as an English teacher at White Plains H.S. in New York. It was during her time in New York, where Barbara became reacquainted with Dick Rosenberg, a boy from Fall River. Barbara had attended Dick's Junior prom with him at Durfee several years earlier. Dick was a naval officer in the Atlantic Fleet stationed in New York, after serving in Korea and Vietnam. A few years later, in 1956, Barbara and Dick were married and shortly thereafter Dick was assigned duty in San Francisco, which brought the couple to the West Coast. There they would build their careers and family and become a prominent part of the San Francisco Community. Ultimately, Dick served as Chairman and CEO of Bank of America. Dick often commented that he owed virtually all of his success to the love, support and friendship he had with Barbara.

Along the way, while raising a family (they had two sons, Michael and Peter), Barbara established her own distinguished career in Education, Philanthropy and Public Service. For several years, Barbara taught English and Literature at Terra Linda H.S. in Marin County. A stickler for the proper use of grammar in the English language, when her sons (and later her grandsons) wrote her a letter, she would often return the letter marked with a red pen correcting any grammatical errors. Once, when dropping off one of her grandsons at summer camp, Barbara noticed there was a separate bus for boys and another for girls. On the bus transporting the boys, there was a banner that read "Boy's Bus". Barbara asked the camp counselor for a sharpie marker so that she could mark out the misplaced apostrophe and put it after the "s". Subsequent to her teaching career, Barbara took on a role in administration in charge of all Curriculum Development at the San Rafael School District. During this time, she earned a Doctorate degree in Education at the University of San Francisco. Thereafter, the license plate on her successive sports cars read DR BARB.

Barbara left a legacy of significant contributions to the community. She was appointed by San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan to the Library Commission at a time of fundamental changes in the City's public library system. She also served as President of the Bureau of Jewish Education and the President of the Campus for Jewish Living where she and Dick funded the Rosenberg Family Center. Barbara also served on the boards of the Jewish Community High School, Lehrhaus Judaica and the department of Jewish Studies at Stanford University and was a trustee of Brandeis University. Barbara spearheaded many of the philanthropic endeavors of the Rosenberg family, including the funding of the Rosenberg Institute for Marine Biology and Environmental Science at San Francisco State University, the Rosenberg Institute for Global Finance at Brandeis University and the Jewish Community H.S., among others.

Barbara was a world traveler and visited all seven continents. She often traveled with Dick and met many world leaders such as President Ronald Reagan, President George H.W. Bush, Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Someone once asked her what all these prominent world leaders had in common, she responded "they were all honored and felt lucky to have met me."

While Barbara was certainly comfortable interacting with senior corporate, civic and political leaders, she was most happy spending time with her family and friends, particularly her five grandsons Jack, Joe, & Max (Michael) and Jake & Cyrus (Peter).

Barbara is survived by her two sons, Michael and Peter, two daughters-in-law Ellen Rosenberg (Michael) and Lisa Rosenberg (Peter) and her five grandsons.

The family has suggested donations be made in memory of Barbara Rosenberg to the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, 302 Silver Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94112, sfcjl.org.