Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel.
Elaine Esther Gilberg
March 13, 1929–March 30, 2020
Elaine Esther Gilberg peacefully passed away on the afternoon of March 30 in Novato, California. Elaine had just celebrated her 91st birthday on March 13 and was vibrant until the end, when she became another innocent victim of Covid-19.
Elaine was born in 1929 in Salem, Ohio, to Jack and Margaret Sarbin. After attending high school at Highland Manor in Long Branch, New Jersey, Elaine attended Ohio State University where she met the love of her life, Robert “Bob” Gilberg. She and Bob formed a partnership which was to last almost 67 years.
After two years in Alexandria, Virginia, working first as a receptionist in a law office and then as a clerk in a civil service job while Bob was in the Army, Elaine and Bob moved back to Fremont, Ohio, in 1953, where Bob joined his family business Joseph’s Department Store. She got involved in the community during her years there, including leadership roles in League of Women Voters, American Association of University Women, and President of the sisterhood of Temple Beth Israel. Elaine also worked at Joseph’s doing fashion shows and various events as well as some buying.
When the recession hit Ohio in the ’80s and Joseph’s was closed, she and Bob embarked on another phase in their lives together as manufacturer’s sales reps in a company they founded The Bay Marketing Company in San Francisco. She was an expert salesperson of her wares — mostly embellished sweatshirts and, because of her magnetic personality, had quite a following. During that time in California not only did she travel throughout the state, but she and Bob began to do world travel, which she loved but was always happy to get home.
Her next journey was to Peoria, Arizona, in the late ’90s where she and Bob retired to become fixtures at Temple Beth Sholom — enjoying the company of the many friends that they made there and the large extended family that lived there. She also became quite involved with the Women’s Division of the Jewish Community Federation where she received a special award for her efforts on behalf of the community.
Finally, after Bob’s death she landed back in San Rafael at Drakes Terrace for two years where she once again got involved in everything from the food committee, program committee and chairing the welcome committee.
The underlying theme of her life was her family and involvement. She leaves behind a legacy of love, caring, compassion, friendship, feistiness, spunk, independence and hospitality all rolled into one package. Judy (Steve) Zimmerman and Art Gilberg will sorely miss their mother. Joy (Jason) Walker, Jacob (Aimee) Zimmerman, Josh Zimmerman and Max Gilberg will miss their Grandma Laine, and Mia Walker, Julia Walker, Ava Walker, Zach Zimmerman and Zoe Zimmerman will miss their Lainey. A graveside service was held at Kol Shalom. Contributions may be made to Congregation Kol Shofar or Hebrew Free Loan. A celebration of her life will be held when the times are more fitting.
Annette Grace Heller
On April 3, 2020, Annette Grace Heller (née Zion), loving wife, mother of three daughters, and grandmother of 10 grandchildren, passed away at the age of 91 in San Rafael, California.
Annette was born on November 29, 1928, in Paterson, New Jersey, and raised in Bridgeport, Connecticut. She graduated high school at the age of 16 and studied Business Administration at the University of Bridgeport. On October 11, 1956, Annette married Herbert Curt Heller, a Holocaust survivor from Prague, Czechoslovakia. The two moved from San Francisco to San Rafael in 1958 where they raised their family and opened Heller’s for Children, a children’s department store they owned for 53 years.
Annette was an active leader in many local organizations. She was President of Marin Hadassah for 12 years, President of the Sisterhood at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael for two years, Volunteer at the Marin General Hospital Gift Shop for 20 years, and an active member of both City of Hope and B’nai B’rith. When she was not volunteering, she enjoyed playing Bridge and Mahjong, traveling, book clubs, and attending live theater and ballet.
Annette was so smart, beautiful, and wise. She loved her husband, children, and grandchildren unconditionally. She embodied what it meant to perform a Mitzvah in her community through her kindness, humanity, and charity. Many people in San Rafael were witness to her countless acts of selflessness, compounded by the faith that motivated her actions. She was an extraordinary mentor, role model, and Nefesh Yehudi — a Jewish soul.
Annette is preceded in death by her parents, Charles and Sarah Zion, and her brothers, Arthur and Mervyn Zion. Annette is survived by her devoted husband, Herbert, affectionate identical twin daughters Diane Heller and Vivian Cohen, affectionate daughter Linda Levy, and adoring grandchildren Adam, Daniel, Matthew, Monica, Charles, Sheryl, David, Ryan, Jordan, and Brandon — quite the Mishpocha!
Annette will always be remembered for her love and generosity to everyone. She will be sorely missed by her family and friends.
A private interment was held at Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery. Memorial services will be held at a later date at Congregation Rodef Sholom in San Rafael. Contributions to Annette’s memory may be made to Marin Hadassah, (415) 924-5131; City of Hope, (415) 788-1002; and Congregation Rodef Sholom, (415) 479-3441.
Bianca Zwang Hirsch
November 1, 1925–February 26, 2020
Bianca Zwang Hirsch passed away peacefully on February 26, 2020.
Bianca Rosa Paula Zwang was born in Mannheim, Germany, on November 11, 1925, to Siegbert and Betty Zwang, and was the younger sister of Hans. In 1937, her parents recognized that the situation for Jews in Nazi Germany was deteriorating, so Siegbert and Betty made the decision to take their children, Hans and Bianca, and two nieces and leave them with relatives in the United States. Hans and Bianca were taken to Coalinga, California, where they lived with a brother and sister of their father, respectively. Siegbert and Betty went back to Germany but managed to leave a month before Krystalnacht. The family settled in Chicago.
Bianca graduated from Senn High School in Chicago and went on to study psychology at Northwestern University. Upon graduation, she told her parents that she did not want to live the rest of her life in Chicago, since she simply did not like the weather. She planned to move to San Francisco, but first traveled to New York to attend a wedding. The wedding was officiated by Cantor Erwin Hirsch, the brother of Warren Hirsch. Bianca and Warren had been members of the children’s choir at their synagogue in Mannheim. Erwin gave Bianca Warren’s phone number and she called him once she settled at the Emanu-El Residence Club in San Francisco. Six months after that phone call, Warren and Bianca were married.
Bianca and Warren had two children, Clifford and Felissa. Bianca worked as a psychologist for the San Francisco School District for many years, earning her Ph.D. while working and raising her children. She wrote a weekly column for a local independent newspaper about various school programs, wrote a biannual newsletter for the former Jews of Mannheim, and wrote and directed plays for Congregation Ner Tamid, where Warren and Bianca were devoted members for many years.
In 2018, Warren and Bianca celebrated their 70th anniversary. Warren predeceased Bianca on March 16, 2019. Bianca is survived by her children, Clifford (and Lori) Hirsch and Felissa (and Myron) Cagan, her grandchildren, Derek (and Casey) Hirsch, Amanda (and Aaron) Kempema, Eli Cagan and Melissa Hirsch, and her great-grandchildren, Simone Kempema and Sierra Hirsch.
Bianca was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She was the energetic “Grandma B” to her grandchildren and delighted in playing with them, and cooking and baking for them. She and Warren attended services at Congregation Ner Tamid for as long as they could. They were avid travelers and symphony, opera and theatergoers and loved living in San Francisco near their family and many dear friends.
A graveside service was held on March 1. The family requests that donations in Bianca’s memory be made to the Anti-Defamation League.
March 19, 1928–April 1, 2020
Neville was born in 1928 to Neville J. Rich and Anne Harris and passed peacefully on April 1. He grew up in San Francisco and attended Washington High before graduating from UC Berkeley in 1950. Neville was a veteran of the Korean War, which he spent in the Finance Corp in France. In 1956, he married Lila Joan Sankowich and together they raised four children in the Jordan Park neighborhood of San Francisco. After earning his CPA and working a few years with a national accounting firm, he and a partner started their own firm.
Neville was a lifelong Cal fan. A season ticket holder of the football and basketball teams for decades, he waited patiently, and unsuccessfully, since 1959 for another Rose Bowl appearance.
An avid collector, Neville amassed over 15,000 unique miniature bottles from around the world, and also collected U.S., Israeli, and U.N. stamps. And anything with a horse on it. An urban cowboy before that was fashionable, Neville was happiest on a horse at his beloved Sonoma house. His homemade Nouveau Rich red wines made a splash. He was an avid reader, including all Shakespeare plays and books by Mark Twain. And he was quite the philosopher, with creative interpretations of alleged Confucius sayings.
Neville cared dearly for his close friends, of which he had many in the Bay Area and beyond, and most of all for his family. He took particular joy in seeing his grandchildren grow up. Among countless other cherished memories, his children remember his famous “mystery trips” fondly.
He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Lila, his four children, Edward, Andrew, Juli and Dan, his nephew Matt, all of their spouses, and his 11 grandchildren.
If you wish to honor Neville with a donation, please consider the Lila S. and Neville Rich Family Achievement Award Scholarship at UC Berkeley or the charity of your choice.
Feb. 1, 1947–April 5, 2020
Arthur Rosenberg, a third-generation San Franciscan, passed away peacefully with his wife, Gayle, by his side. Dearly beloved and devoted husband of Gayle Rantz Rosenberg for 51 wonderful years and life partner for 58 years, ever-loving father of Jill Rosenberg and Steven (Melissa Fully) Rosenberg; beloved Poppi to Violet and Dylan Fully Rosenberg. Devoted brother to John (Flo) Rosenberg and Richard (Sandy) Rosenberg and his nephews Jeremy (Tina) Rosenberg, John (Lila) Rosenberg, and Michael (Rosanna) Garza Rosenberg, and his niece Darlene (Michael) Villalobos, including many great-nieces and great-nephews.
He was a graduate of George Washington High School and Golden Gate University. Art had a quick wit and an endearing sense of humor. He had a generous spirit and lived his life with a commitment to help all of those around him, including the ones he did not know. Over the years he donated countless pints of blood and cooked thousands of meals for those in need. He loved traveling, spending time with his many friends, and watching the Giants win or lose. He treasured his family and they are left with many fond memories they will cherish forever.
A private family burial service was held and there will be a community Memorial Service in the future. Donations may be made to the UCSF Brain Tumor Center: braintumorcenter.ucsf.edu; Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, 5 Third St., #815, San Francisco, CA 94103; Junipero Serra High School, 451 W. 20th Ave., San Mateo, CA 94403; Melrose Leadership Academy, 4730 Fleming Ave., Oakland, CA 94619; or the charity of your choice.