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Ann Rosener Famous for her work as a photographer for the Office of War Information, documenting the role of women in the war effort during WW2, died at the age of 97 at her home in Menlo Park on May 19 after a short illness. She had a wry eye and took striking photos highlighting the sudden breakthrough of women in industry, performing work that had long been a male preserve. After the war she continued her work as a photographer for Time and Life. She was modest to the point that many of her longtime friends did not know about her extraordinary early prominence as a photographer. Ms. Rosener was born November 25, 1914, to Leland and Beatrice Sheeline Rosener, both of whom descended from California pioneers in the 1850s. She attended Girls' High (now Lowell) and Smith College, where she received her A.B. in 1935, beginning her long odyssey to independence from her privileged upbringing in San Francisco. Her time at Smith influenced her development as a staunch liberal and an independent thinker. There she discovered a love of poetry, abiding interest in photography, and appreciation of type on paper, passions that endured throughout her life. Rosener was briefly married after the war to Frank Perls, a prominent gallery-owner in Los Angeles, joining a circle that included Richard Neutra, Rico Lebrun, William Brice, and Hollywood friends including Edith Head and film executives Frances and Sidney Brody. During that time she worked on the film Around the World in 80 Days as well as others. From the 1950s on, her career centered on design. In 1951, she was commissioned to design the exhibition for the Borax Museum in Death Valley. After her return to the Bay Area, she worked as a graphic designer for the Stanford University Museum of Art, producing catalogs, posters, and books, and collaborating with Richard Diebenkorn, photographer Leo Holub, and many others. In 1977 she founded her press, Occasional Works. She edited, designed, typeset, and printed by letterpress more than twenty-five publications, including limited editions of poetry by Julian Bell, Thom Gunn, Constantine Cavafy, and many other writers. She collaborated with both acclaimed and unknown artists. Possessed of extremely high standards, Rosener was a discerning reader and consumer of culture. Young people were drawn to her forthrightness and her generous attention to their personal lives. She preferred to look forward rather than to reminisce, and to draw out others rather than to talk about herself. She also loved her slightly wild garden and was devoted to her feline pets. Ms. Rosener is survived by her niece Beth Rosener of San Miguel de Allende, and a coterie of devoted friends of long standing. At her request, there will be no memorial service.
Published in San Francisco Chronicle on June 6, 2012
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