Ruth Abrahams

Nov. 10, 1917–Jan. 12, 2013

A native of San Francisco, Ruth Abrahams passed away after a short illness barely two months after celebrating her 95th birthday in the company of family and friends.

Beloved wife of Charles Abrahams (deceased 1995). She remained steadfast in her love and devotion to son Keith and wife Lisa, to daughter Leslie and husband Jack Kaufman and to her grandchildren Michael, Katie, Emily and Abigail and great-grandchildren Miles and Mason.

She was an extraordinary woman with an extraordinary life. Born to immigrant parents Abe and Mollie Shiman, she was 14 years old when her father died. With brother Martin in college and a baby brother to care for, Ruth worked after school helping to run her mother’s cleaning and tailoring shop. She entered college at the age of 17 but had to drop out to work full time to help the family stay afloat.

She worked selling high-fashion clothes in City of Paris and Livingston’s through marriage and motherhood, never losing sight of her ultimate goal — to earn a college degree. In her mid-40s, she enrolled part time in City College and graduated with a B.A. in education. She started teaching full time while working towards a Master’s at S.F. State College and a second M.A. at USF. In the 1960s, she was a trailblazer who helped clear the way for older female students to earn advanced academic college degrees.

Ruth worked for the Brisbane school district counseling learning-disabled children. She mentored students and younger teachers, inspiring them with her optimism and boundless enthusiasm. At the age of 75 she voluntarily retired to pursue her dream of traveling around the world, a dream she fully realized.

Ruth Abrahams was a dedicated member of Hadassah and a lifelong Zionist. She marched in pro-Israel demonstrations in Washington, D.C., and picketed the Russian Consulate in S.F. on behalf of refuseniks trapped in the USSR. She was always generous in supporting worthy Jewish causes. To her, being Jewish was a badge of pride. She will be sorely missed by all who knew her.

Memorial services were held on Jan. 16 at Salem Memorial Park, Colma. In lieu of flowers, please send a contribution to Hadassah Hospital or Jewish Home for the Aged, S.F.

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William “Bill” Caplan, born in 1932 and a resident of Burlingame, CA for 51 years, passed away unexpectedly Sunday night at home, after spending a festive evening with family and friends.

He was the beloved son of the late Beatrice and Arthur Caplan and stepson of the late Lucille Caplan. Bill is survived by his loving wife of 55 years, Shelly, his children, Russ (Mylene), Debby Rosenfeld (Ken) and Rob, his four grandchildren, Aly, Brett, Ryan and Zack, as well as nieces, nephews and many friends. These meaningful relationships in his life were his greatest source of joy.

Bill grew up in Massachusetts and moved with his family to California as a young teenager. He was Phi Beta Kappa at UCLA and graduated from Harvard Law School in 1957. After working for four years as an attorney, Bill joined his father at Topper Fine Jewelers in 1961. He had a deep passion for the business, where he later worked with his wife, Shelly, and his sons, Russ and Rob.

Bill had many interests, including politics and the news, which he followed closely and discussed daily. He especially loved coaching his children’s and grandchildren’s sports teams and studying American, Roman and biblical history. He was a good athlete and enjoyed skiing and tennis for many years. His favorite vacation place was Maui, where he especially loved the ocean and snorkeling. An avid chess player, he once had a round-robin draw against Bobby Fischer. At one point Bill was president of the Mills Estates Association, as well as president of the Millbrae Tennis Club.

His family dogs, Brandy the Collie, Jennifer Bear the 175 lb. Newfoundland and Raleigh his Golden Retriever, brought him great pleasure over a 35-year period. At work, his granddogs Lola, Charlie and Rosie were always waiting to greet him.

Bill’s bright smile, sharp humor, integrity and enviable work ethic will be deeply missed.

Services were held Jan. 17 at Peninsula Temple Sholom in Burlingame, followed by interment at Home of Peace Cemetery in Colma.

Donations may be sent to UCSF Foundation (memo line: Myeloma Program B2498 in memory of William Caplan), Box 45339 S.F., CA 94145.

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Leonie J. Darwin


Leonie “Lonny” Darwin, known for her compassion, philanthropy, elegance, vivaciousness and loyalty, has left a big void in all who had the privilege of knowing her. She passed away in her sleep on January 11, 2013. Happily, she celebrated her 100th birthday at the end of October with many of her nearest and dearest at the party she planned herself.

Lonny was born in Hamburg, Germany. In the late 1930s, she came to the Bay Area with her first husband, George Leonard. Widowed young, she worked in the import business for several years. In the late ’50s, she married attorney Jay A. Darwin, with whom she shared many happy years. After Jay’s death in 1982, Lonny spent a number of years in Jerusalem, where she was active on the boards of Hebrew University and the Rubin Academy. She returned to San Francisco in 1990, where she had been one of the original founders of the Holocaust Center of Northern California (now part of Jewish Family and Children’s Services) and was largely responsible for the acquisition of many memorial (Yizkor) books of vanished communities.

Also very close to her heart was the Merola Opera Program, a prestigious training program for promising young singers. Lonny’s interest in and support of other organizations was remarkable.

She will be missed by many friends and relatives all over the world. Lonny was an inveterate traveler who rarely missed an opera, concert, theater or ballet.

Lonny is survived by her sister Vera Carpeneti, her niece Andrea Cole, her grand-nephew Andrew Jacobson, the Teisch Family, the Miller Family (Haifa) and many cousins. She is also survived by longtime friend Gerald Rosenstein, to whom she referred as “my Jerry.” Her close friends Blanche Streeter, Anita Weissberg and Lisa Danzig were always there for Lonny, as she was for them. They shared so many wonderful occasions. Special thanks to Sophia, Juana, Erika, Anne, Perla, Roxana and Yanina for their loving care.

Burial services were private. In lieu of flowers, Lonny’s preference would be a gift to the Merola Opera Program and/or Jewish Family and Children’s Services for the Holocaust Center in her memory. Lonny leaves us with many smiles. May her memory be for a blessing.

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Ruth Eis, 92, in Danville, California, on December 23, 2012.

A native of Mainz, Germany, she immigrated to New York at the age of 17 and later moved to Oakland with her husband, Max, and children in 1954. She was a well-known artist and exhibited her paintings both in group exhibitions and solo shows. She was the curator of the Magnes Museum in Berkeley for over 30 years and published several catalogs and scholarly articles under its auspices. She also wrote poetry and published a book of poems illustrated with her own drawings.

She is survived by her son and daughter-in-law, Steven and Pam Eis, of Orinda, and daughter and son-in-law, Ginny and Heinz Lackner, of Oakland, and a grandchild, Allison Eis. Donations in Ruth’s memory may be made to Temple Sinai, Oakland ( or to the Jewish Heritage Museum at the Reutlinger Community for Jewish Living (

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Mary Rouben died peacefully in her sleep on December 28 in her home in Walnut Creek, California. She was 97.

Mary was born and raised in Salonika, Greece, home of a large Sephardic Jewish community. After surviving the Holocaust, Mary with her husband Sam and two children immigrated to Oakland, California, in the ’50s.Together they worked hard to make a comfortable life for their family. Mary was a member of the sisterhood of Temple Beth Abraham and later of B’nai Israel.

She is survived by her son Jack, her daughter Katy, her grandson Leo and great-grandson Yianni.

She was a loving parent and wonderful friend. She will be missed by all.


Dianne Shemano

Dec. 5, 1943–Jan. 12, 2013

Passed away in Burlingame following a courageous battle with cancer at the age of 69. Loving wife of the late Richard Shemano for 39 years; wonderful mother of Jeffrey Shemano and Aimee Shemano-Krupp (Andrew Krupp); adored “Nana” of Chloe Krupp; dear sister of Arlene Levin (Wally); aunt of Michael and Debbie Levin and Ben, Jake and Sophia Shemano; sister-in-law of Gary (Julie) Shemano. Longtime companion of Milton Jacobs. Loving friend to many.

Dianne was the youngest daughter of Sy and Bertha Owens. She grew up in San Francisco, where she attended Lowell High School. She attended USC, where she met the love of her life Richard. They moved back to San Francisco after college and she received a teaching degree from S.F. State.

Active in many civic and social organizations, recently Dianne sat on the board of the Institute on Aging. She loved teaching children, walking her dog Lucy, enjoying fine dining with her companion Milton, and relaying stories about her granddaughter Chloe.

Funeral services were held on Jan. 15 at Home of Peace Cemetery Chapel, Colma. In lieu of flowers, donations would be kindly appreciated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, 175 Ammon Drive, Suite 201, Manchester NH 03103, (603) 222-2006; Hadassah, 4711 Golf Road, Suite 600, Skokie, IL 60076, (847) 675-6790; or the Institute on Aging, 3575 Geary Blvd., San Francisco, CA 94118, (415) 750-4111.

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