a lit memorial candle with a Sinai Memorial Chapel logo on it

Deaths for the week of Nov. 22-28, 2020

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


Moysha Barnett

May 18, 1927-Nov. 9, 2020

Moysha Barnett
Moysha Barnett

Born Morris Barnett in Cleveland in 1927, he officially adopted his childhood nickname, Moysha, when he was in his 50s. For all of his 93½ years, people agreed he was a “real character,” unconventional and one-of-a-kind. It was an image he willingly embraced and nurtured.

Moysha was loving, big-hearted, colorful, nonjudgmental, generous and talented. He was also immodest and often self-absorbed, at times to a fault. He was a gifted artist and a masterful calligrapher, his greatest passion. He fancied himself a poet, kept journals, and smoked pot well into his 80s. He had friends of all ages and backgrounds who were drawn to his quirkiness and intellect. Many met him simply by walking past his house, where he sat on the front porch greeting people as they passed by. He loved talking to strangers and flirting with women. All through life he never hesitated to ask for help, and therefore he always got what he needed.  He expressed his gratitude and doled out compliments and love freely, flattering his way into people’s lives and hearts. Once you met Moysha, you never forgot him.

Moysha spent his first 20 years in Cleveland, where his Russian immigrant parents tried to keep their son on the straight and narrow. As a young boy he sat on his violin and crushed it in protest. As a teen he had a job setting up bowling pins and ran with a crowd that included Jewish mobster Jackie Presser. He was known as a great dancer and a charmer.

After graduating from Ohio State, Moysha and his wife, Miriam, married in Cleveland in 1949 and drove across the country to San Francisco, where they bought a house in the Sunset and raised three daughters. Moysha had his own industrial design business on Sacramento Street and taught at California College of Arts and Crafts. In the 1980s he moved to Tillamook, Oregon, and then north to Astoria. He was enamored with the town, set on a hill overlooking the Columbia River, and made it his home for 15 years.

His daughters moved him back to San Francisco in June 2019. He was not easy, but he knew it, and was effusive with his appreciation. And he always, always told them (and his many lifelong friends) how much he loved them.

Moysha is predeceased by his parents, Esther and Louis Barnett, his sister Annie Simon, his former wife Miriam Saltzman Barnett and his daughter Michelle Barnett Kern. He is survived by his daughters, Dee-Dee Sberlo and Sue Barnett, son-in-law Yoel Sberlo, seven grandchildren (Jason Kern, Ronen, Tamar, Amir and Edan Sberlo, and Noah and Maya Winshell) and a new great-granddaughter, Arya Kashima Sabin-Sberlo.

Donations to SF-Marin Food Bank or Intersection for the Arts appreciated.


Arlene Joy Levin

April 2, 1933-Oct. 30, 2020

Arlene Joy Levin
Arlene Joy Levin

Passed away in San Francisco following a courageous battle with many health issues at the age of 87. Loving wife of Wallace Levin for 68 years, wonderful mother of Michael Levin and Debbie Levin, adored grandmother of Matthew Levin, dear sister of the late Dianne Shemano, dedicated daughter of the late Sy Owens and the late Bertha Owens. Arlene dedicated her life to her family. Her mission in life was to focus her love and concern on her father, mother, sister, husband, children and grandson. To her this was her world.

Arlene met Wallace when she was just entering Lowell High School and Wallace was graduating. Four years later, after he graduated from College of the Pacific, he joined the Army Security Agency because of the Korean War. They were married just prior to him going overseas. They then had their first and second Wedding Anniversary apart. But after that they were never apart for the next 66 years. And they have lived in the same San Francisco house for the past 52 years.

When her children went off to college, she went to work for Seymour Zoger, M.D. His practice was to care for Infants, Children and Adolescents. She worked for the doctor for two and a half decades and she enjoyed every minute working with the children. As Office Manager she was able to develop a loving relationship with the children. Prior to the doctor retiring she did have a health problem that was resolved. She was then able to go on 12 ocean cruises during the next decade, which was her favorite mode of travel.

The family thanks the doctors, nurses and staff at UCSF Hospital for the great health care that they gave Arlene during her final days. And special thanks to Gerald Roberts, MD.

Due to the Covid-19 restrictions a private family funeral was held at the Home of Peace Cemetery in Colma. A celebration in honor of Arlene is planned, when the Covid-19 pandemic is resolved.

Sinai-Redwood City


Joel Norman Rossen

June 22, 192-Nov. 19, 2020

Joel Norman Rossen
Joel Norman Rossen

Joel Norman (“Norm”) Rossen, 93, of Palo Alto, CA, beloved husband, father and grandfather, passed away on November 19, 2020, at his residence, after a long illness.

Norm was born in Detroit, MI, on June 22, 1927, the son of Louis and Bessie Rossen. He is survived by his wife, Nancy Weeks Rossen, his sons, Jonathan and David (Joyce), and his daughter, Rebecca (Chris). He is also survived by his five grandchildren, Shaina, Audrey, Aaron and Ethan Davis and Sarah Rossen. He was predeceased by his first wife, Barbara C. Rossen, in 2000.

After graduating from George Washington High School in Alexandria, VA, at the age of 16, Norm attended Georgetown University, where he discovered that he didn’t want to be a dentist after all. After a short stint in the Navy, he returned to college and received chemical engineering degrees from M.I.T. (B.S., 1947, M.S., 1948). While at M.I.T., Norm met a young Lasell Junior College student named Barbara (“Bunny”) Cohan, eventually convincing her to marry him and move to Virginia, where he would begin his first job at the Atlantic Research Corp. When Norm traveled to San Francisco on business, he was enthralled by the beauty of the Bay Area, and soon after, the couple and their three young children moved out West.

There, Norm spent a successful 25-year career as a project manager with United Technologies’ Chemical Systems Division, where he oversaw numerous contracts for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, and received NASA’s Public Service Group Achievement Award. Retiring just before his 60th birthday, Norm and Bunny were free to pursue their love of travel, both domestic and overseas, and enjoyed participating and meeting new friends in the Elderhostel programs. They also shared many wonderful trips to Morrison’s Lodge on the Rogue River, even though the salmon were often elusive.

Music was a huge part of Norm’s life, with baroque and swing/jazz his favorite music genres. He played the saxophone and clarinet in high school and college, and later became a proficient blockflute (recorder) player, participating in several local chamber groups. Norm and Nancy were fortunate to have found each other, as they shared this love of music as well as theatre, attending many seasons of the San Francisco Symphony, the Music at Menlo program, and TheatreWorks.

Norm also enjoyed being a community volunteer. He was an enthusiastic computer tutor for many Russian immigrants who came to the Bay Area in the mid-1980s, and he volunteered as a driver for the Avenidas organization.

He had so many wonderful traits that will be remembered fondly by his family — puns and wordplay, whistling tunes and tapping a beat, a crushingly strong handshake, tinkering and Rube Goldberg-esque designs, and reading all road signs and license plates while driving. Vitality, charm, and a warm, welcoming smile are his legacy.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in memory of J. Norman Rossen to any of the following organizations: Oshman Family JCC, Hebrew Free Loan of San Francisco, Alzheimer’s Association, Music @ Menlo.

Sinai-SF


Joel Keith Straus

Oct. 25, 1947-Nov. 17, 2020

Joel Keith Straus
Joel Keith Straus

Joel Keith Straus was born to Mollie and Jack Straus in Chicago, Illinois, and moved to Southern California at the age of 2. He was a history major at UCLA, where he met his future wife at Sproul Hall. He graduated from Hastings College of the Law and practiced family law for 40 years. Joel served as President of the San Mateo County Bar Association and was a law professor at San Francisco State University.

Joel raised his family in Foster City and moved to Mountain View in 2013 to be closer to his children and grandchildren. Family was always Joel’s first priority, and he was a doting and hands-on father and grandfather; he attended every soccer game, musical production, and school concert. Joel was an avid Dodgers and UCLA sports fan, a crossword puzzle whiz, a master on his Weber grill. He enjoyed playing bridge with his friends, reading, and spending time with his grandchildren. He proudly watched his eldest grandchild become a Bar Mitzvah last year.

Joel was a longtime member of Peninsula Sinai Congregation in Foster City. He passed away on November 17, 2020 from complications of an aortic aneurysm. He is survived by his devoted wife of 50 years, Linda Straus, son Jonathan Straus (Ashley), daughter Erica Rosen (David), and grandchildren Ben and Sam Straus and Elliott and Amalia Rosen. He is also survived by his sister Vivian Yahiro, sister-in-law Joyce Robbins, and mother-in-law Sybil Kuby, as well as many nieces and nephews. Joel will be remembered as a loving, affectionate, doting, often sarcastic, quick-witted, caring person, always ready with a play on words, a hug, and a smile.

In lieu of flowers, contributions can be sent to Peninsula Sinai at 499 Boothbay Ave., Foster City, CA 94404 or a charity of your choice. Donations of blood at your local bank (after a coronavirus vaccine has made it safe) would be welcomed to help offset the heroic measures that were made on his behalf.

Sinai-Redwood City


Lillian Volansky

Nov. 3, 1928-Nov. 18, 2020         

Lillian Volansky
Lillian Volansky

Lillian Volansky passed away peacefully at her home on November 18 with her children by her side. She is survived by her son David and daughter Paula, along with Paula’s husband Dan Melinger and her grandson Aaron, whom Lillian adored.

Born and raised in New Jersey, in addition to her studies, she was an artist and president of her Jewish youth group. Not always common for the time, her father thought that girls should be college educated, so she graduated from NYU with a Foreign Trade major and minors in Spanish and Psychology. After marrying her beloved husband Stanley, z”l, they settled in San Francisco.

She spent her adult life caring for her children and family, volunteering at her children’s schools and their synagogue, Congregation Ner Tamid. Her children are in touch with some classmates from 45 years ago that still fondly remember Lillian and recall aspiring to grow up to be like her.

After losing her husband in 1980, Lillian began working at the San Francisco office of Hadassah. If you called the office between 1981 and 1999, you spoke with Lillian.

She was devoted to her friends and family and was always finding ways she could help the people in her life. Since she didn’t work on Fridays, most of them included a trip to the South Bay to spend time with her grandson. Always a lover of film, she would host Academy Awards watch parties for her friends and would create scoresheets with lists of nominees so they could all play along. Whether sitting on a camel in Israel or exploring Paris, she had a love of travel and would take cruises with both friends and family.

Battling dementia in her later years, Lillian retreated to quality time with family and a small group of very close friends. She was blessed to be able to remain in her home of 62 years, supported by loving caregivers and her children, where she could still enjoy some of her favorite entertainment including Robin Williams films and anything sung by Luciano Pavarotti or Andrea Bocelli.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Congregation Ner Tamid of San Francisco (nertamidsf.org) or the JFCS Holocaust Center (holocaustcenter.jfcs.org – husband Stanley was on the founding committee).

Sinai-SF


Donald Scott Williams

Aug. 20, 1946-Oct. 19, 2020

Donald Scott Williams
Donald Scott Williams

On Monday, October 19, 2020, Donald Scott Williams, loving husband, father, grandfather, uncle and friend, passed away at age 74 surrounded by his family.

Don was born on August 20, 1946, in San Francisco, California, to Peter E. Williams and Nadine Rose Williams (nee Schneider). He took pride in being a 4th-generation San Franciscan. Don was raised in San Francisco and attended Alamo Elementary and Lowell High School and graduated from George Washington High School, class of 1964. He then went on to attend and graduate from San Jose State University.

At San Jose State, he met the love of his life, Kathy Roberts Williams. This was the beginning of a true love affair. On February 16, 1969, two weeks after Kathy graduated from college, they were married at the Hilton Hotel in San Francisco. Kathy and Don were blessed with 51 years of marriage. In 1973, Don and Kathy moved to “the country” and settled in their home in Hillsborough, California. In 1976, their daughter Tracy was born, followed by the birth of their son Mike in 1979. They raised their family in this home and still enjoy living there today.

After graduating from college, Don became an insurance broker and joined his father and grandfather at Peter E. Williams Insurance Company. Don worked diligently to grow the insurance company, first purchasing it from his father, next merging in 1988 with Joe Picetti forming Picetti & Williams Insurance. In 1997, Don merged Picetti & Willliams into Heffernan Insurance Brokers. Don took great pride in working for Heffernan including serving on the Board of Directors. Many of those he worked with referred to him as “Uncle Don” and looked to him as a mentor. Don, having an entrepreneurial mind, also had projects going on including investing in diverse areas like real estate, Burger King properties, and developing unique earthquake insurance programs for CA homeowners.

Don was an involved philanthropist. He took great pride in and spent a lot of time dedicated to building and growing the Peninsula Jewish Community Center in Foster City, CA. He was passionate about helping other organizations and families in need, including a family Don and Kathy “adopted” in Rwanda. They continue to help this family by providing them with basic necessities and the opportunity to attend university.

Don’s passions were spending time with his family and friends, enjoying golf at Lake Merced Golf and Country Club, and his weekly Gin night with the same group for over 35 years. He also loved spending time with his in-laws, Geede and Acky Roberts, including their special times boating on the Delta. He had a love of adventure exploring the world with Kathy. Together they traveled to all 7 continents and over 86 countries. Don was known for always having the biggest smile on his face especially when enjoying time with his family and friends. He was always a big jokester and often kept his friends on their toes. We know Don is sitting on a beach in paradise sipping his vodka and lime (shaken not stirred) waiting for his Gin game or tee time, watching over all of us with a smile on his face. Friends will always remember Don as being both a titan and a Mensch.

Don is survived by his loving wife of 51 years, Kathy, his adored children Tracy Stettner (Aaron) & Mike Parker (Finn), and his beloved grandchildren Alex & Jordan Stettner. He also leaves behind his brother Peter Williams (Lynne), his sister-in-law Judy Williams and many beloved nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents and brother, Robert Williams (z”l).