Rose Resnick, 99, blind activist for the disabled

In the early 1960s, after she had settled in the Bay Area, Rose Resnick had difficulty finding a job. Though she had recently obtained both a master’s degree and a teaching credential, she was blind, and in those days, it was very hard for a blind person to find a teaching job.

Though Resnick had not been observant since childhood, taking the advice of a friend, she began to pray.

“I’ve always had the understanding that God helps those that help themselves,” she told the Jewish Bulletin (now j.) in 1986.

So she changed her tactic, and began working with the disabled. Resnick, a pioneer in disability rights in the Bay Area, died Monday, Aug. 14. She was 99.

Resnick was the recipient of numerous awards, including the Hannah G. Solomon Award for community service from the National Council of Jewish Women and the Myrtle Wreath Award from Hadassah.

Resnick was born Nov. 27, 1906 in New York City to Ukrainian immigrants. Glaucoma caused her to go blind at age 3.

She was gifted musically, and received scholarships to attend the Manhattan School of Music, the Fontainebleau Conservatory of Music in France and the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She attended all three.

After touring as a concert pianist, she settled in San Francisco, earning a teaching credential and master’s degree from San Francisco State University in 1961.

Resnick had attended summer camp as a child, and as an adult founded the Enchanted Hills Foundation, which started the first camp for blind children in the United States. She served as its executive director until 1958. After that, the Enchanted Hills Camp merged with the San Francisco Association for the Blind to form San Francisco LightHouse, now the Rose Resnick LightHouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

In 1981, Resnick received her doctorate in education from the University of San Francisco.

She went on to serve as executive director of the California League of the Handicapped, which in 1986 was renamed the Rose Resnick Center for the Blind and Handicapped, though later the center dropped her name.

Even though she had no plans of retiring at the time, she told the Jewish Bulletin then, “Immortality is being pushed on me.”

Though not religious, Resnick was involved in the Jewish community. She traveled to Israel in the early 1980s, to consult on services and facilities for the blind there.

Among her non-Jewish awards was a presidential citation for her work with the disabled.

Mary Fisher met Resnick in 1940 through her late husband and was impressed by her intelligence and varied interests.

“She was always on the go, she could make headlines anywhere,” said Fisher, of San Francisco. “I taught her knitting and crocheting and bowling, and we went on many trips together.”

Noting that Resnick had even tried skiing, Fisher said, “there weren’t many things she didn’t try.”

In 1988, her autobiography, “Dare to Dream: The Rose Resnick Story,” was published.

Donations can be made to the San Francisco SPCA, 2500 16th St., San Francisco, CA 94103-4213.

Alix Wall
Alix Wall

Alix Wall is a contributing editor to J. She is also the founder of the Illuminoshi: The Not-So-Secret Society of Bay Area Jewish Food Professionals and is writer/producer of a documentary-in-progress called "The Lonely Child."