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Services Sunday for Long-time Santa Monica Activist Rose Kaufman Who Died at Age 105

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By Jorge Casuso

February 5, 2019 -- Services for community activist Rose Kaufman, who became a champion for seniors in the city that was her home for six decades, will be held at the Santa Monica Synagogue on Sunday.

Kaufman, a longtime leader of the League of Women Voters of Santa Monica (LWVSM) who was known for her dedication and sense of humor, died peacefully at home on January 21, her family said on Monday. She was 105.

“Rose was the definition of a public servant who fully embraced her civic responsibilities," said Assemblymember Richard Bloom.

"Her presence and determination were larger than life and through her tenacity and fearlessness, she always made sure her voice was heard.

"Rose will be fondly remembered by all the lives she touched, both at the LWVSM and throughout the Santa Monica community.”

Kaufman became involved in local politics after moving to Santa Monica in 1960 and joining the local chapter of the League of Women Voters, an organization she had participated in when she lived Toledo, Ohio.
Rose Kaufman
Rose Kaufman at her 100th birthday
party (Courtesy League of Women

And she would remain involved -- serving on a number of City Boards and Commissions and lobbying the City Council on issues she championed -- for the rest of her life.

"I saw her at a League of Women Voters meeting this year and her mind and memory were amazing," said former mayor Judy Abdo.

"She certainly contributed amazing energy to the community of Santa Monica even at 105 years old."

Said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis, “Rose Kaufman was an energetic advocate for discounted transportation for seniors and other worthwhile causes," said Santa Monica Mayor Gleam Davis.

"She never was bashful about letting you know what she thought, but she always was cheerful about it.”

Kaufman's interests ranged from crime prevention to enhanced healthcare benefits for Medicare recipients, from at-large Council seats to senior housing and traffic safety.

But the issue she was best known for championing was the distribution of free taxi vouchers to seniors during City budget season.

Rose Kaufman and Richard Bloom
Rose Kaufman and Assemblymember Richard Bloom, then mayor, at “Rose Kaufman Day in
Santa Monica” (Lookout staff photo)

Kauffman memorably used the ceremony proclaiming August 19, 2007 “Rose Kaufman Day in Santa Monica” to lobby then-mayor Richard Bloom on the issue ("Rose Kaufman Blooms in Santa Monica," August 23, 2007)

.“Richard Bloom, don’t hide," she told him. "You know something, our new city manager (Lamont Ewell) said he would work on it. And I don’t think he ever did.

"Now that I am so duly honored, I am going to say to him ‘taxi coupons for seniors.’ This is a rich community and we can do it. Before I die Richard.”

“I’ll check on it," Bloom responded. "We’ve got plenty of time.”

Bloom was right. Kauffman would stay involved -- although less intensely -- for another eleven years.

Born Rachel Leah Rootkin in 1914, Kaufman was one of six children born to Lithuanian immigrants in Philadelphia. In 1942, she married Philip Kaufman, whose mother also had emigrated from Lithuania.

After the couple moved to Santa Monica, Kaufman served twice as president of the local League of Women Voters (1964-1965 and 1982-1983) and for years continued serving as an unofficial consultant, historian and conscience of the league.

"She was one of my mentors," said Barbara Inatsugu, former president of the local League. "When I first joined in 1992, she was one of tthe old timers who had a lot of experience.

"I just really, really appreciated her," Inatsugu said. "She was just such an amazing woman. She was a special lady!"

Kaufman also served on the City's Citizens Task Force on Development (1981), the Commission on Older Americans (1985, 1988 and 1992, Emeritus member in 1996 and 1998) and the Fourth Street Housing Committee (1997).

In addition, Kaufman chaired the Santa Monica Emeritus College Executive Committee.

During "Rose Kaufman Day," the League of Women Voters of California presented their former president with the first proclamation of its kind in the state.

“I think you are all honoring me just because I survived, but I appreciate it," Kauffman joked when she accepted the award.

"I am really very touched. To say I am overwhelmed is an understatement. I am super-whelmed. All I can say is that League people are special people.”

The memorial service will be held at the Santa Monica Synagogue, 1448 18th Street, Sunday at 1:30 p.m..

After the service, her children Judith Hartman, Ira, and Louise Kaufman, and her grandchildren, David and Molly Hartman, will be receiving guests at the Home of Roger and Judith Hartman 634 10th Street, Santa Monica.

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