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Jean Wildberg

Obituary Condolences

Jean Wildberg Obituary
Jean Wildberg

Nov. 4, 1930 - Sept. 18, 2013


Jean Wildberg died peacefully in her San Francisco home at age 82. Depending on who's counting, Jean was either a third or fourth generation San Franciscan. Her maternal grandfather, Israel Kahn, came to the West Coast from Germany and established Kahn's Department Store in Oakland in 1879. What is now known as the Rotunda building is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.


Jean enthusiastically conveyed a sense of history and culture to her children and grandchildren, and was a life-long learner. A graduate of San Francisco's Washington High School and Stanford University, she married (and later divorced) attorney Marvin Morgenstein, with whom she had three children: Richard, David, and Susie. She went back to school when the children were in their teens, obtaining graduate degrees from San Francisco State University and the California School of Professional Psychology. She practiced as a psychologist specializing in Employee Assistance Programs before retiring in 1998.


Jean was a warm and generous hostess with a wide and eclectic group of friends. She had a flair for bringing people together, for seamlessly instigating great conversations, and for providing delicious and plentiful food. A world-wide traveler, Jean especially loved the Sierras, as had her father before her. Among her many intellectual passions, including art and opera, she was a ferociously devoted bridge player. Jean was an attentive and caring friend. When circumstances called for it, she took a gentle parental role with younger people, with whom she had a special bond.


Among the many ways she modeled an excellent life, perhaps paramount was her ability to withstand adversity, to learn from it, and to soldier on. By far her biggest loss was the untimely death of her daughter Susie at age 21. While the experience crushed her, over the years she accommodated her grief and remembrance in a widened world view. She took great and persistent joy in the unfolding lives of her sons Richard Morgenstein and David Morgenstein, both of San Francisco. Richard's children Eva and Nick, and David's children Nina and Orly, were a source of inspiration and pleasure for Jean until the moment she died.


Jean is additionally survived by her nieces, Janet Macks and Katie Macks, as well as her daughters-in-law, Mary Ellen Hannibal and Lida Morgenstein. In addition to Susie, she is predeceased by her sister Ruth Wildberg Macks, Ruth's husband Morton Macks, and their daughter Judy Macks.


Friends and family are invited to her memorial service on Sunday, September 29 at 10:30 am at Congregation Sherith Israel. Donations in Jean's honor came be made to Jewish Family and Children's Services.


Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Sept. 24, 2013
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