• "Rest In Peace my dear friend and colleague Nancy Gruber,..."
    - Bill Berkowitz
  • "I first met Nancy at the Bennington Chamber Music..."
    - Judy Tobey

GRUBER--Nancy L.,

was born in Oklahoma City, March 16, 1930, to Wann and Clara Louise Langston. At age 16, she left for Stanford University and received a BA and MA in Drama, for which she directed the first U.S. production of Brecht's Good Woman of Szechuan. She married James Riley, a scenic designer, in 1953, gave birth to Robert in 1955 and Kathleen in 1957. While raising her children in Florida, she worked in theatre and began playing chamber music. The family moved to New York City in 1966; she became involved in the anti-war and feminist movements and received an MA in Library Science from Columbia. Her marriage to Jim ended in 1972, and shortly after she met the progressive lawyer and violist Samuel Gruber. They married and moved to Stamford, CT, in 1974, where she worked as a librarian at Stamford and Westport Public Libraries and SUNY Purchase. In 1982, she lost Sam to lung cancer and spent several years pursuing her commitment to progressive politics, working in San Francisco with Socialist Action and in Paris with the Fourth International. She returned to NYC in 1985, was hired as a librarian at NYU, and in 1989 met Morton Sobell, an engineer and radical activist. They moved to San Francisco in 1990 and were married in 1993. She worked as a music librarian at Mills College and copyeditor for the DataCenter, a progressive clearing house. In 2004, they returned to the northeast, and she organized the Brecht Forum's library in NYC. She enjoyed playing violin and viola with friends until 2013 when she developed PSP (a Parkinsonian illness), but many noted how her amazing smile persisted till the end. She died at home July 16, 2018 and is survived by loving friends and family, including her husband Mort, eight grandchildren (Will Riley, Tess Riley, Anna Riley- Shepard, Andres Levy, Nathaniel Levy, Max Sobell, Zach Sobell, and Sam Sobell), children by birth, marriage, and friendship (Kate Riley, Neil Shepard, Elly Riley, Kathy Gruber, Fred Levy, John Gruber, Mark Sobell, Laura King, Nicole Polier, and Linda Ray), and loving caregivers Saida and Zina. She was predeceased by her beloved brother Robert Langston and son Robert Riley. Gifts may be sent in her name to: ACLU, Planned Parenthood, New York Public Library, or the Barenboim-Said Foundation.

Published in The New York Times on Aug. 19, 2018
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