Rose Rotman marks special birthday

Rose Rotman marks special birthday

BY VICTORIA SIEGEL, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Rose Rotman is never home.

When she’s not occupied with her big family coming to visit, she’s enjoying the many activities offered at Delmar Gardens West.

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“I used to do a whole lot more,” Rotman said, “but not anymore.” Considering she just celebrated her 100th birthday, any self-critique of her reduced schedule is somewhat humorous.

Rotman indulges her creative side during weekly craft activities and never misses bingo, parties, or the music and entertainment productions. She attends the weekly Friday Shabbat services and in general keeps pretty busy.

“She comes to most of the activities and is very active, especially for someone her age,” Mary Roemerman, assistant activity director of Delmar Gardens West, said. “And she is very much a lovely lady. She is always dressed in nice clothes and always with lipstick and make-up and her hair done.”

Roemerman reports that everyone likes Rotman and she’s never heard her say a cross word or mean word to anyone or about anyone.

Even though her official birthday was Dec. 9, her family came in from all over the country to throw her a big party on Sunday, Dec. 24. Rotman’s daughter, Millicent “Mimi” Graff, hosted a luncheon for her, her six grandchildren, and 14 great-grandchildren, demonstrating her family’s affection for their matriarch.

“She is a very warm, loving, kind person who loves people,” Barbie Kandel Shapiro, Rotman’s oldest grandchild, said. “She especially loves her grandchildren.”

Shapiro says that this admiration goes up and down the intergenerational ladder.

“The kids love having Nanny around because she helps them understand life a little more. They learn that it’s not just you in this world, that there are elders you need to look up to and respect.” Shapiro reports that the great-grandchildren love hearing Rotman’s stories, and even the grandchildren are surprised to hear stories they haven’t heard before.

Of her longevity, Rotman attributes her tenure to keeping a healthy life and staying busy. She worked at her husband’s store, Ben’s Hardware on South Broadway, every day and did everything from bookwork to waiting on customers.

“Everyone called me Mrs. Ben,” she chuckled. “Never Mrs. Rotman.” She also enjoyed swimming, ordinary exercise, ballroom dancing and playing piano, mostly classical music.

In addition to her daughter Mimi, she and Ben had another daughter, Sybil Kandel, who passed away in 1999. Shapiro is the one who gave her the nickname “Nanny.”

“She couldn’t say ‘grandma’ so when she began calling me ‘Nanny.’ The name stuck,” Rotman explained.

She used to be active at the J for many years including the Tuesday Women’s Club and the Thursday Friendship Club. Rotman learned to do acrylic painting at the J and continued painting for many years up until 10 years ago. She even received an award for a painting at an art show when she lived at the Covenant House.

“I really admire her strength and her will to live,” Shapiro said. “She’s not giving up on life; she still enjoys life and people.”

As Rotman looks back on all the achievements and milestones she has witnessed during her 100 years on this planet, she says she was most amazed by humans landing on the moon.

“When they flew up toward the moon, I thought that’s just something you never see. That’s God’s country. I think it’s wonderful … talk about nerve and intelligence.” She also most admired Golda Meir, former prime minister of Israel.

“She fought for Israel and did so much.” Rotman thinks all these changes since her horse-and-buggy days, especially for women, are good things. “You need a women’s opinion. Women are very strong and are able to carry a heavy load.”

It is apparent Rotman is living proof of this sentiment.