Phyllis Friedman
1923 - 2019
{ "" }
Share Phyllis's life story with friends and family
Send an Email
Or Copy this URL to Share
Phyllis Koshland Friedman

August 27,1923 - July 2, 2019

Asked what she wanted her obituary to say, Phyllis Koshland Friedman responded, "Say I've had a wonderful life." Indeed, she did. Mother, social worker, activist, and friend, her gentle influence infuses the life and character of this community in ways large and small, personal and public.

The third child of Daniel Edward Koshland, Sr. and Eleanor Haas Koshland, she spent nearly 96 years in the San Francisco Bay Area, exemplifying the values, humor and generosity of a large and illustrious family. She married Howard A. Friedman, architect and civil libertarian, in 1946, and her lifelong love affair with him lasted four decades while he was alive, and 31 years since.

She was loved by her three children, Robert, Eleanor and David Friedman, and their spouses, Kristina Kiehl, Jonathan Cohen, and Paulette Meyer. She inspired eight grandchildren: Alison Kiehl Friedman, Zoë Friedman-Cohen, Anne Kiehl Friedman, Alexa Friedman-Cohen, Max Meyer Friedman, Meryl Meyer Friedman, Kate Meyer, and Emma Friedman-Cohen; and three great grandchildren, Olivia Danger Friedman, Eli Friedman-Cohen Libby, and Noa Friedman-Cohen Libby. All survive and cherish her. She is also survived by her sister and brother-in-law, Frances Koshland Geballe and Theodore H. Geballe, as well as a multitude of loving cousins, relatives, family and friends. She was pre-deceased by her brother Daniel E. Koshland, Jr.

Phyllis received both her bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of California at Berkeley, and practiced social work, helping Russian emigres and single teenage mothers.

To meet her was to know her, and for her to know you — and your kids, significant others, dreams, cares and concerns. Comfortable with who she was, she was the best of friends, listening intently, inquiring incisively, empathizing, and just when you knew you could trust her absolutely, she would kid mischievously. She recognized the best in each person and made everyone better.

She read widely, thought deeply, and cared about the larger community and world. She was a feminist dedicated to social and economic justice, civil liberties, and a caring and humane society with equal opportunity for all.

She was the best of correspondents, sending thank you notes often before the gift was received, acknowledging accomplishments, encouraging new horizons with warmth, wisdom and humor, and commenting on public affairs, especially the cruelty of the current Administration.

She was the most generous of human beings, embracing causes and initiatives for the common good, always mindful of the people moving ideas forward. She never claimed credit for any of her good works and considered donor recognition walls to be "philanthropic graffiti."

Her modesty masked her strength. Stricken with polio in 1952, she learned to walk again, boldly fighting for social justice while performing simple acts of human kindness throughout her life. She was never doctrinaire, but intolerant of arrogance and insistent on respect for all people.

Phyllis lived the values of thoughtfulness, integrity, justice, kindness, empathy, love and humor. And then she modeled how to die: with courage, clarity and grace. Her spirit lives on in all whom she touched.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be sent to the ACLU of Northern California, 39 Drumm Street, San Francisco, CA, 94111, or to the Jewish Home & Senior Living Foundation, 302 Silver Avenue, San Francisco, CA, 94112.

A gathering of friends and family will be held Saturday, July 6, 2019, from 1-6 p.m. at her home. A celebration of her life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on what would have been her 96th birthday, August 27, 2019, at Temple Emanu-El.

To Plant Memorial Trees in memory, please visit our Sympathy Store.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle from Jul. 3 to Jul. 7, 2019.
Memorial Gathering
01:00 - 06:00 PM
at her home
Celebration of Life
11:00 AM
Temple Emanu-El
Memories & Condolences
Not sure what to say?
6 entries
July 14, 2019
Phil, I want to call you and talk about your death. It would have been so like us.

Your kids were amazing. Wish you could read the lovely obit they wrote.

Stay in touch❤
Jan Montgomery
July 14, 2019
Phil, I want to call you and talk about your death. It would have been so like us.

Your kids were amazing. Wish you could read the lovely obit they wrote.

Stay in touch
Jan Montgomery
July 11, 2019
Phyllis Friedman - Truly the best! Most kind, gracious, loving, compassionate, wisest and funniest person I ever met. What an exemplary model of how to be, how to treat others, and how to live with intention. I'm so sorry for your loss, and so privileged to have known such a powerful and wonderful woman. love and blessings.

Boston, MA
July 9, 2019
A kind, caring heart, a true friend and partner sharing similar concerns. A supportive ear and generous loving being. She touched a profoundly deep place within me that remains vibrantly alive.

Joan Steinberg Laurence
Director of One People One Heart
Joan Laurence
July 5, 2019
I've been in her presence only 4 times, yet it felt as if I had known her forever. I loved being in her company and sharing our lives. What an inspirational life for all of us to emulate. On the one hand I am sad not to have more of her, yet feel incredibly blessed to know her. I will treasure her memory for the rest of my days.
Norman Fassler-Katz
July 4, 2019
Though I hadn't seen Phyllis is many years, I will miss her smile and wisdom upon this earth. She taught by example and inspired me to do more...alway more. Much love to the family. - Nancy Parrish
Invite others to add memories
Share to let others add their own memories and condolences