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Josephine Isenberg

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February 19, 1913 - August 9, 2013
Josephine Isenberg, born to Joe and Mary Bess Bell Moch, in Gallipolis, Ohio, died at Regents Point, Irvine, at age 100. As a child, she attended Gallipolis schools and swam across the Ohio River in its earlier, cleaner form. She attended prep school in Poughkipsie, N.Y., and matriculated at Smith College, graduating in the class of 1935. She continued on to graduate studies in social work at USC. In 1939 she married Eli Isenberg, then a reporter for the Telegram News in Lynn, Mass. With their only child, Jeremy, the family settled in Lynn, where they lived until Eli was drafted in World War II.

In the optimistic postwar glow, inspired by her memories of California sunshine from her graduate-student days, Josephine encouraged Eli in his ambition to publish a community newspaper. In 1946 the couple purchased the Monterey Park Progress and settled nearby. In 1953 she reentered student life, at UCLA. Upon obtaining a second master's degree in social work, she joined the California Department of Mental Hygiene. In her 20-year career there, she supervised more than 1,000 outpatients.

Upon retiring, Josephine joined the board of the Institute for Archaeology at the Claremont Colleges. She participated in archaeological digs throughout the Mediterranean, in Sardinia, Cypress, Majorca, Israel, and Tunisia, as well as at several Etruscan sites in southern Italy.

A second passion was to establish an institution for animal welfare. She joined Eli and friends in organizing Protectors of Animals, a San Gabriel Valley group that raised money, published a newsletter, and recruited volunteers to modernize the local animal shelter. As a weekend volunteer there, she placed many stray dogs and cats in adoptive homes, including several who came to live with her and became beloved members of the family.

After 47 years' living in Monterey Park, she persuaded Eli to enter a retirement community in Irvine. With Eli's death, at age 87, the last major project and passion of Josephine's life ended.

She remained avidly interested in the wider world throughout her life, and read the daily New York Times in its entirety, even after she passed her 100th birthday. She is survived by her son, Jeremy; sister, Frances; daughter-in-law, Christina; grandchildren, Kate and Tom; granddaughter-in-law, Eve; three great-grandchildren; one nephew and two nieces.
Published in the Los Angeles Times on Aug. 20, 2013
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