Volunteer Rose Sampson dies

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Up until the day of her death July 12, just short of her 90th birthday, Rose Etta Kahn Sampson attended chamber music concerts, services and current events discussions at San Francisco's Congregation Emanu-El.

She went to dinner parties with her children. She went shopping and to the theater.

"All this activity was in spite of the fact that she was blind in one eye, had two broken Achilles tendons and hearing aids in both ears," says her son, John F. Sampson.

Rose Etta Kahn Sampson, in short, was not one to let life pass her by.

Well into her 80s, the daughter of prominent Oakland Jewish communal leaders Frederick and Helen Kahn still served as president of the Kahn Foundation, established by Sampson's mother upon her father's death in 1928. The Kahn Foundation endowed the Oakland Museum's Kahn Collection, the institution's first collection of 19th-century California art.

A supporter of numerous organizations, Sampson also continued a lifetime of volunteer work as an octogenarian. She staffed the front desk and visited with patients at San Francisco's Mount Zion Hospital, where her late husband, cardiologist Dr. John J. Sampson, had once been chief of staff and where she died of a lung embolism earlier this month.

And she spent one morning a week being "Grandma RoRo" to toddlers at a nursery school.

"She was an extremely generous person," her son says. "Everybody said about my mother that she was such a grand lady. She had an elegance and a presence about her."

As a girl, she carried the key at the dedication of Oakland's Temple Sinai, of which her father was a founding member and president. The founder of Kahn Brothers Department Store, he was the first president of the Jewish Welfare Federation of the East Bay.

Sampson carried her parents' dedication to Judaism into her own home. "We grew up with a very good feeling about being Jewish," her son says.

A Phi Beta Kappa graduate of U.C. Berkeley, Sampson was also an award-winning weaver. She wove much of the furniture upholstery for her home in San Francisco's Seacliff District and also created a needlepoint pillow cushion for the city's historic Haas-Lilienthal House.

A memorial service for Sampson will be held at 11 a.m. Monday, Aug. 4 at Congregation Emanu-El, 2 Lake St., San Francisco.

Sampson is survived by son John F. Sampson of San Francisco, daughter Deborah Green of Seattle and daughter Janet Reider and her husband Dr. Arthur Reider of Newton, Mass..

She is also survived by grandchildren Caleb Green; Dr. Jacob, Suzanne and Matthew Reider; John F. Sampson Jr.; and Juliet and Jennifer Sampson. Her great-grandchildren are Molly and Sampson Reider and Charlotte Reider-Smith. She also leaves behind many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

The family asks that contributions be sent to the Cantor Rinder Music Fund at Congregation Emanu-El, P.O. Box 591510, S.F., CA 94159 or the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, 1201 Ortega St., S.F., CA 94122.

Leslie Katz
Leslie Katz

Leslie Katz is the former culture editor at CNET and a former J. staff writer. Follow her on Twitter @lesatnews.