Erika Marie Rohrbach
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Erika Marie Rohrbach

Erika Marie Rohrbach, 52, beloved wife and daughter, and friend and colleague to many, died peacefully on Sunday, January 31.

Born in Stamford, CT, Erika grew up in Bethlehem, PA, studying English at Ursinus College before moving to New York City to obtain her master's degree in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

In 2001 she became International Student Advisor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, rising to Director of International Student Services in 2016. Her numerous achievements at FIT include the 2017-18 SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service, in which she was lauded for her deep dedication to FIT students and her tireless drive to tailor whatever assistance each might need, with one student from Nepal observing, "she truly cares for each and every one…"

As a member of NAFSA: Association of International Educators since 1997, Erika received further honors, including the Leadership Award, Bureau of Consular Affairs, U.S. Department of State, Office of Visa Services, for "unflagging enthusiasm in creating and directing a series of 'close encounters' with consular officers and immigration officials, and dedication to student and scholar advocacy," and the James O'Driscoll Distinguished Service Award, for "outstanding service & leadership to NAFSA Region X," both in 2009. She also became Region X Chair in 2010, and Diversity Adviser of the Membership Engagement Committee from 2012.

In 2012, Erika was a Fulbright Scholar to Japan, one of five U.S. administrators selected to participate in the 2012 International Education Administrators Seminar, held in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Hiroshima, and designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to Japanese higher education and culture.

And a member of One to World since 2001, Erika served on the Higher Education Advisory Committee from 2014.

Erika's extracurricular interests were characteristically varied and prestigious—one of her abiding passions was The Dessoff Choirs, where over the last 24 years she joyfully sang soprano, was program editor of three or more concert programs annually, and served on the board since 2016. She was also a board member of the New York Choral Consortium since 2011. And since 2002, she was a freelance writer and reviewer for Kirkus Reviews, where she served as a proud judge of the 2020 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction.

Erika—or simply "E"—was a loyal and generous friend, a clever and mischievous wit, a magnificent cook, a sparkling hostess of legendary Christmas parties at her home in Hawthorne, an enthusiastic sports fan, a voracious reader, an enthusiastic dancer, and an intrepid world traveler—truly a Renaissance woman, who enjoyed any adventure that life had to offer.

She is survived by her wife Maryellen Hauslaib, and her mother, Mary Rohrbach; she is predeceased by her father, Linwood Rohrbach.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to The Dessoff Choirs; donations in Erika's name can be made on The Dessoff Choirs website at: or by check, payable to The Dessoff Choirs, Inc., mailed to: The Dessoff Choirs, P.O. Box 1337, New York, NY 10028.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in The Record/Herald News from Feb. 3 to Feb. 4, 2021.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
Memories & Condolences
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10 entries
February 8, 2021
I instantly remember Erika’s smile and automatic accepting nature from high school. My deepest sympathy to her family and friends. What a life; what a loss.
Chris Sexton
February 6, 2021
Erika was such a love of a person. She always ready to crack up laughing or put her sassy spin on things. I met E & Mel waiting for thrain in Hawthorne years ago. We sat together all the time complaining & laughing all the way into the city which made the commute like a social event instead of torture. One time Erika was picking up garbage on the way to the train while she was carrying 2 bags filled to the brim with treats for her students & coworkers. She had a heart of gold & I’m privileged to have known her.
Elayne Kreie
February 5, 2021
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.. I send love light and strength to family and friends to carry them through difficult times and to cherish memories.
Erma Benedetto
February 5, 2021
My deepest sympathy love and affection goes out to the family and friends, to comfort them in these difficult times.
Erma Benedetto
February 4, 2021
I met Erika when she and her spouse, decided to purchase a home in Florida. I was their RE agent; however, a great friendship grew from having met them both. She will always be remembered by me, as a sweet, generous, kind & loving person with a kindred spirit. I loved her wittiness. Fly have definitely earned those wings. Rest in peace my friend. I love you.
Linda Faucett
February 4, 2021
I sat next to Erika as a soprano in the Dessoff choirs for many years before I left New York. She probably wouldn’t even recognize or remember me but I remember her. She was one of the most welcoming human beings and made me feel included and part of the group. Her wit and warmth were obvious and her dedication to making beautiful music seems to be in line with all that she did in her life. Please know how many people, like myself, she touched, perhaps even unknowingly. My condolences to her family and friends. Suzanne Blakely
Suzanne Blakely
February 4, 2021
Erika was loyal. And smart. And tactful.
She lived life like a mission. She took on responsibilities to which other people would say, no thanks.
She was a true friend – happy for your happiness, pained for your troubles, remembering the details.
She was devoted to Mel and Mary.
May her memory be for a blessing.
Miriam Lewin
February 4, 2021
My deepest condolences to Maryellen for the loss of your wife. Although I never met Erika, her accomplishments show what a beautiful, intelligent, and caring person she is. I pray that you find peace and strength in your love for her and all of the amazing ways she touched your life and influenced the person you are now because of your love for each other.
Jean Evans Dávila
February 4, 2021
Erika was a former student who truly made a lifelong impression on me for her passion for learning and for writing. A gentle, creative, and multi-talented soul, she also served as the editor to the high school literary magazine (Young Writer) which I advised and took our magazine to new heights. I will never forget the poem she wrote for me when I got divorced ["The desert knows no rain..."]; what an astute and empathetic response from one so young! I have watched her career with pride. Sending love to her wife and mother, as well as the incredible number of people Erika touched. [I was Mrs. Ruyak when I had her as a student]
Natalie Chickey
February 3, 2021
Erika was one of the strongest women I have ever known. I miss her greatly. Her love for my sister Maryellen was never ending.
Kristin Hauslaib
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