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.
Published by San Francisco Chronicle from Jul. 3 to Jul. 7, 2019.