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Rosabelle Rose Tobriner
Devoted wife of the late Mathew O. Tobriner, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of California, died of respiratory failure on November 26 at California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Rosabelle (Ro) was born on May 26, 1915 in Los Angeles, California to Charles Rose and Sonia Neveloff Rose, Russian Jewish immigrants of modest means. She attended L.A. High School and graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1939 with a B.A. in social work. She returned to U.C. Berkeley in her 40s and received an M.A. in Economics in 1959. She married Mathew Tobriner in 1939, and the couple moved into his family home on Jackson Street in San Francisco, where they lived until Mathew's death in 1982. Ro was a beautiful, intelligent woman, always stylishly dressed, curious, outgoing and gracious.
Ro dedicated her life to community service and her participation was highly regarded. She served as a model in her day for young women interested in taking an active role in public life. She began her community work as President of the Madison School P.T.A. and worked in Jewish Family Services as well as the Jewish Community Center. After serving on the Mt. Zion Hospital Women's Auxiliary and becoming its President, she went on to become a hospital board member. She served on the board of the Koshland Committee and was appointed by then mayor Dianne Feinstein to serve as a San Francisco Health Commissioner.
In 1984 Ro moved to 999 Green St., and in 1998 she moved to the San Francisco Towers, where she lived until her death. She was increasingly withdrawn after 2003 because of senior dementia but seemed to achieve a special peace with her life, particularly in the last few years.
She is survived by two loving sons, Michael C. Tobriner, a San Francisco attorney and Stephen Tobriner, Professor Emeritus of Architectural History at UC Berkeley, and their wives, Stephanie Wildman and Frances Tobriner. She will be missed by four loving grandchildren: Mike Z. Tobriner and his wife Quynh Nguyen of Qatar; Armando Tobriner of Berkeley; Becky Wildman-Tobriner and her husband Ben Chung of Burlingame; Ben Wildman-Tobriner and his wife Vicky Parente of Durham, North Carolina. She is also survived by her deceased brother Milton's two daughters: Alison Rose of New York and Belinda Rose of Redwood City. She will be especially missed by Julieta Dela Rosa who cared for her with loving patience and great skill for over ten years. The family gives special thanks to Julieta and the group of superb caregivers she assembled: Conchita Agustin, Mary Lou Rogers, Jane Soriano, and Lorraine Soliman. The family would also like to thank Tineke Colenbrander, who kept Ro's books since the 1990s, and Rosemary MacCloud, of the San Francisco Towers, for her sensitive and timely help.
A private internment was held at Home of Peace cemetery in Colma on November 27. A celebration of Ro's long life will be held at the San Francisco Towers, 1661 Pine Street in San Francisco, at 2 pm Sunday, December 16. Gifts in her honor may be given to the Center for Social Justice and Public Service at Santa Clara University School of Law, 500 El Camino Real, Santa Clara, CA 95053 and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research, Grand Central Station, P.O. Box 4777, New York, NY 10163.

Published in San Francisco Chronicle on Dec. 2, 2012
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