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Deaths for the week of Oct. 18-24, 2020

Obituaries are supported by a generous grant from Sinai Memorial Chapel. This page will be updated throughout the week. Submit an obituary here.

Fritz Gelb

Aug. 28, 1924-Oct. 10, 2020

Fritz Gelb, age 96, beloved husband, father, grandfather and great grandfather, died peacefully in his sleep on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2020. Fritz was a Shanghailander, businessman, stamp collector and avid traveler. He is survived by his sons Robert and Philip; their wives Johanna and Diane; grandchildren Joshua, Rachel, Leslie, Benjamin, Sarah and Rebecca; and great-grandchildren Fritz, Tobias, Charlotte and Leo.

Gladys Stark

Dec. 27, 1922-Oct. 13, 2020

Gladys Stark
Gladys Stark

Gladys (Fink) Stark, longtime resident of Los Altos Hills since 1960 and founding member of Congregation Beth Am, passed away on Oct. 13, 2020 at the age of 97.

Gladys was born Dec. 27, 1922 in Detroit, Michigan, to parents Rebecca (Ruth) and Victor Fink. She was the second oldest of four children. She was predeceased by her older sister, Evelyn Gersh (who died earlier this year at 99), and her two younger brothers, Fred Fink and Bernard Fink. The family moved to Mount Clemens, Michigan, where Gladys spent her childhood.

Gladys met her future husband Marvin Stark when they were 17 years old. After Marvin graduated high school at 16, he left home in Brooklyn to work at a small hotel that was owned by his aunt in Mount Clemens. It was there that Gladys was introduced to Marvin. He was her first and only love; and she thought they would have good-looking children.

After Gladys and Marvin eloped in 1943, Marvin served as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II. After the war, Gladys and Marvin moved to Los Angeles to attend UCLA. The Starks were the first married couple to graduate from UCLA after World War II.

Gladys began her teaching career in 1943 in the San Francisco public school system, while Marvin attended dental school at UCSF. After moving to Boston, Gladys taught in the Boston public schools, while Marvin did a fellowship at Harvard; she continued to teach when they moved back to the Bay Area in 1954, settling in Los Altos Hills, where they were founding members of Congregation Beth Am and Gladys sang in the choir.

In 1967, Marvin was offered a position on Project HOPE, and Gladys and Marvin took their three children to live in Cartagena, Colombia, where Marvin led their dental team, while Gladys taught English in the local school. The stint was supposed to last six months, but was thwarted suddenly when Gladys contracted viral encephalitis which left her in a coma for nearly two months.

Miraculously, Gladys made a complete recovery — having to relearn to walk, talk and perform basic life skills. She went on to pursue a master’s degree, become foreign student advisor at Santa Clara University and an ESL teacher at Evergreen Community College. Her teaching career spanned more than 50 years.

When Marvin passed away in 2002, Gladys retired from teaching at the age of 80, allowing her to spend more time pursuing her lifelong hobbies: singing, playing bridge and gardening.

She was a master bridge player and sang weekly in three choirs: the Aurora Singers of Palo Alto, Hashirim and Congregation Beth Am’s choir. Well into her early 90s Gladys played bridge, sang in her choirs and travelled frequently with her children and grandchildren. She was a gracious and warm host to friends and family in her home in Los Altos Hills, hosting bridge gatherings, dinner and backyard swim parties with her grandchildren.

Gladys will be remembered by her children and grandchildren for her lovely, kind and sweet demeanor. She never had an unkind word to say about anyone who came in her path and always looked for goodness in others. She was an elegant, graceful woman who had a keen eye for beautiful fashion and furnishings, as reflected in her personal style and in her home. She was a devoted and caring wife to her husband of 57 years, caring for him in his final years.

Gladys is survived by her two children, Susan Stark (Jerry Scher) and Richard Stark (Annarosa Tomasi), and her five grandchildren, Jacqueline Scher, Rebecca Stark, Jonathan Scher, Michael Stark and Mia Scher.

Arlene “Bonnie” Tenenbaum

Oct. 13, 1944-Oct. 15, 2020

Arlene “Bonnie” Tenenbaum
Arlene “Bonnie” Tenenbaum

Bonnie Tenenbaum passed away on Oct. 15, 2020, two days after her 76th birthday. She is survived by her beloved husband of 54 years, Marty, cherished son Josh, daughter-in-law Mira and granddaughter Abi, sisters Joanne and Ann, and brothers Malcom and Steve, as well as many nieces, nephews and cousins. In the final years of her life, she treasured her friendship with her caregiver Leo Guzman.

Bonnie was an educator for nearly 50 years. She was especially dedicated to projects with few resources. Because she graduated from both Cal and Stanford, she used to joke that her team never lost a Big Game. Known for her thoughtfulness and generosity, Bonnie helped establish several enduring institutions in the Jewish community.

Bonnie was born Arlene Bonita Katz on Oct. 13, 1944 in Seattle, Washington. She attended the Helen Bush School and the University of Washington before transferring to UC Berkeley. She majored in history and went on to get an MA in European intellectual history and a teacher’s credential. She taught at Cubberley High School in Palo Alto and Ravenswood High School in East Palo Alto before returning to academia to get a Ph.D. in educational psychology from Stanford University.

Bonnie’s professional focus was curriculum evaluation. She identified innovative new curricula, designed and conducted formal evaluations and helped disseminate successful projects across the country through the Federal National Diffusion Network. Running her own business, she consulted for the California Department of Education, numerous school districts across the state, and several Bay Area research labs, including SRI International, American Institutes for Research and Xerox PARC.

When federal support for education research was slashed under the Reagan administration, Bonnie resumed her own education and pursued a master’s in public health at San Jose State. She also taught courses in social studies education at several local universities, including Santa Clara and Notre Dame de Namur. In 1995, soon after the birth of the web, she started the internet-based Virtual Public Library, now called the K-12 Instructional Resource Center (k12irc.org), one of the internet’s first public repositories of exceptional educational materials, which she personally curated and which continues to this day.

Even while pursuing her ambitious career in education and raising a young child, Bonnie immersed herself in service to the Jewish community. She started volunteering with the Palo Alto Jewish Community Center in the 1970s when it was operating out of a small house on Middlefield Road. Over the next several years, she took on increasing responsibilities in the JCC, rising to become president and overseeing its transformation into a major center of community life as the Albert L. Schultz JCC on the Terman campus. And when the JCC had to find a new home in the early 2000s, she helped lead its evolution into the new Oshman Family JCC.

Bonnie’s work with the JCC was just the beginning of a remarkable second career as a community leader and philanthropist, helping to establish the organizations and institutions that now provide the foundations of Jewish life and education on the San Francisco Peninsula and well beyond. These include the South Peninsula Council of the Jewish Community Federation, Jewish Family and Children’s Services, Congregation Kol Emeth, the New Israel Fund, the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival, Hillel at Stanford, the Jewish chaplaincy at Stanford Hospital, the Jewish Home for the Aged and Hatikvah House, a Jewish home for developmentally disabled adults.

Most of all, Bonnie’s passionate support for and impact on education was immense, both in Jewish and general education. She helped found two Peninsula Jewish day schools, South Peninsula Hebrew Day School (SPHDS) — where she also served as head of general studies — and Gideon Hausner Jewish Day School, as well as the East Palo Alto High School (now Academy).

She also made major contributions to the development of the Jewish Community Day School (JCDS) in Watertown, Massachusetts, where her granddaughter Abi was enrolled, and to Canada/USA Mathcamp. She was a dedicated supporter of first-generation low-income college students, through the Peninsula College Fund and KIPP Bay Area Schools.

At Stanford University, she endowed the Bonnie Katz Tenenbaum chair in education, which allowed Stanford to recruit Guadalupe Valdés, one of the country’s leading experts in bilingual education who also became a personal friend and collaborator. And working with the Bureau of Jewish Education of Northern California (now Jewish LearningWorks), she created a shared resource center for Jewish educators in every school across the region.

In her work with these organizations, Bonnie contributed both as a philanthropist and an educational visionary, bringing all her experience in teaching, curriculum development and evaluation, planning and management to help each institution achieve its greatest potential. Dr. Susie Tanchel, past JCDS head of school, shared this upon hearing of Bonnie’s passing: “I always appreciated Bonnie’s sharp mind, fierce spirit and warm heart. She was an educator’s educator who possessed a deep and inspiring commitment to both Jewish and progressive education.”

Her contributions were recognized with numerous honors, including the United Way for Santa Clara County Volunteer of the Year Award (twice), the Jewish Community Federation Harvey Koch Leadership Award, the East Palo Alto High School Volunteer of the Year Award, the New Israel Fund Guardian of Democracy Award, the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Fammy Award (“for her extraordinary example, leadership and caring for our community”), and just earlier this year, the inaugural David Waksberg Award for Sustained Impact in Jewish Education from Jewish LearningWorks.

Zichronah livrachah — may Bonnie’s memory endure as a blessing. She will live on in all the good that she has done for her family, her friends and her community. More information and tributes to Bonnie can be found here.

Barbara Sue Gross

July 29, 1943–Oct. 16, 2020

Barbara Sue Gross
Barbara Sue Gross

Barbara Sue Gross, loving matriarch of our family, died peacefully in her home from complications of cancer.

Barbara was born in Portland, Oregon, to parents Phil Unkeles, who was born in Parejaslav Chmel’nye’kil, Ukraine, and raised in Portland, and Freda (Kash) Unkeles, originally from Swisloch, Poland. Barbara was raised in Everett, Washington, and in Portland. She moved to San Francisco in 1966 and met her lifelong love, Barry Gross, at a party given on the night of his last law school final exams. They married in 1968 and bought their Moraga home at the end of 1969 with the down payment from her secretarial earnings. They raised their children there, and she lived in the Moraga home the rest of her life.

Barbara had a deep and joyful commitment to family. For decades she hosted a large Passover seder, welcoming friends and family alike. She started several small businesses, including cafes Lattes in Oakland and Cappuccino in Moraga, and a Color Me Mine pottery painting studio in Walnut Creek. She supported Barry and her children with everything they did and was very proud of their accomplishments. She loved their vacation homes, originally at Lake Tahoe and for the last 14 years in Kauai.

She is survived by Barry, her husband of 52 years; children Philip (Vera), Mara (Michael), and Aaron; five grandchildren, Benjamin, Joe, Samuel, Gabriel, and Lucia; sister Sandra Holzer; brother Marvin Lewis; a loving extended family; and dear friends. Her sister Dorothy Kent passed away in 2019.

A small funeral will be held on Wednesday, October 21. She will be buried at Home of Eternity in Oakland, CA.

Donations may be made to Temple Sinai’s People of the Book Literacy Project or your local Food Bank.