Claire Rothenberg

Claire Rothenberg

Claire Rothenberg, born August 14, 1927, passed away peacefully on June 11, 2013. Her beloved husband Don Rothenberg predeceased her. She was born Shirley Claire Bluestone in Chicago, Illinois to Sarah Kaner Bluestone and Louis Bluestone; her brother was the late Henry Bluestone.

As a young woman, she moved to Los Angeles to live near her mother and aunt and to attend UCLA. She went into early childhood education and directed a nursery school, using her singing, autoharp and piano gifts with children. She married Robert (Bob) Shushan with whom she had two sons, Laurence and Jeffrey. Claire co-wrote several songs; one, "A Whole Lotta Loving" was turned into a hit single by Fats Domino but to her six kids, her version is far superior!

In 1963, divorced, Claire met Don Rothenberg, a widower, in Cleveland Ohio. They married and she relocated with her sons, joining Don in raising his three daughters, Linda, Nancy and Diane. In 1966, the whole family moved to Berkeley and soon welcomed the youngest daughter, Wendy. Claire raised her six children, hosted wonderful gatherings and was engaged in the community.

A gifted singer, she gave local concerts of Yiddish songs from her childhood and was a soloist with the Berkeley Community Chorus. Her aesthetic sense was great; she co-owned Stoll and Rothenberg Framing and did stunning work. She took joy in being Jewish and worked and volunteered at the Berkeley-Richmond Jewish Community Center. She delighted in children and volunteered in schools. Claire savored nature's beauty; her poetic words about the wonder of a leaf were published in Gems of Wisdom: A Book of Elder Poetry and Prose. She had sparkle, a sense of humor and commitment to social justice. Claire's love of people, music, nature and beauty were with her to the end.

Claire is survived by her devoted children Linda (Jonathan) Bendor, Nancy (Robert) Tepperman, Larry Shushan (Maggie Acosta), Diana Tokaji (Robin Gaster), Jeff (Robin) Shushan, and Wendy Rothenberg. She was the proud grandmother of seven grandchildren: Denise, David, Josh, John, Daniel, Ben, and Mikhael; and three great-grandchildren: Macy, Nate, and Phillip Micah. She is also survived by her niece Marlene Suliteanu, grand-niece Cheryl and grand-nephews Ray and Matt and she loved and was loved as well by extended and "adopted" family, friends, and the staff at Lakeside Park who "loved Claire like she was our own Mom." Her presence will be deeply missed.

The family thanks the skilled, caring staff at Lakeside Park in Oakland and devoted friends.

Funeral services were private. A gathering to remember Claire is being planned. To be contacted, please email Donations to the JCC of the East Bay, Jewish Coalition for Literacy (which assists disadvantaged children), or Young Musicians Program UC Berkeley would be lovely.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle from July 7 to July 14, 2013