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Rose Tishman Silkiss

Rose Tishman Silkiss was born on January 13, 1924 in Manhattan to immigrants Bessie and Morris Tishman. Rose was the youngest daughter of four children, Abraham, Evelyn and Sydney. A product of the depression, she was a creative, curious, fearless young woman. Rose attended Washington Irving High School then City College. She received a scholarship in 1948 to study engineering at the Pratt Institute.  There she studied design and earned a Master’s degree in mathematics at a time when there were no positions available for female mathematicians. Consequently, she earned a teaching certification that enabled her to obtain a teaching position in Peekskill, New York.


At the end of the school year, Rose decided to travel to Los Angeles. She had been traveling from the Bronx to Peekskill on a weekly basis. She took a statistical analyst position in Los Angeles and stayed at the Hamburger House. During her trip, Rose sent 10 post cards to her family and friends. She had one extra stamped card and decided to send it to this nice guy, Manny Silkiss, whom she had met just before   leaving Peekskill. She did not have the address, but improvised.  The address was listed as Silkiss Peekskill NY. Amazingly, Manny received the card. And a romance was born.


Rose and Manny dated for two years. They married on July 11, 1952 at the Roosevelt Hotel in Manhattan. On their honeymoon, they traveled by car across Canada, to Montreal, Lake Louise, and Banff. Upon their return they settled in the Bronx. Manny took a position in Allentown, and eventually joined the metallurgical engineering firm Lucius Pitkin Inc. in New York as an attorney and Chief Metallurgical Engineer. He became CEO of the company.


Rose and Manny returned to Peekskill often to help run the bungalow colony where Sarah and Joseph Silkiss (Manny’s parents) lived.


Rose took a position as a remedial reading specialist in Yonkers. She was an early adopter of new methods learned through her studies at the Orton Society for teaching reading to students with learning disabilities. Rose often turned children’s lives around when they were smart but suffering from dyslexia, and failing in school.


Rose and Manny had two children, Susan and Rona. Susan became a successful television producer at CBC, and other television networks. Rona became a successful ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgeon.


When Susan started school, Rose volunteered to teach reading in Susan’s class. In lieu of a baby sitter, Rose took Rona to the class and sat her at the back of the room. At the end of the year, Rona had learned to read at age 3. Rose retired at 75 having been an active, successful, and much loved teacher for over 40 years.


In his recent book The Road to Character, TV Commentator and Author David Brooks noted that there are two types of virtues, one is resume virtues, and the other is eulogy virtues– related to who the person was as a human being. Both are important.


Rose was a fearless companion. Full of life, always ready for a new adventure, and at the head of the line. She was super intelligent, friendly, charming, a great conversationalist, an enthusiastic dancer, and brave. Rose had a great sense for people, and was a good judge of character.  She loved to laugh…. exuberantly. Rona often thought that this was the antidote to aging, at least for Rose.


Rose and Manny lived a life of their choosing. They loved their family, their parents, their children and their occupations.  They traveled throughout the world together, and enjoyed what life had to offer.


Rose was an unusually stoic person. She lived a full life in her later years despite an age acquired profound hearing loss, and remained committed to social interaction in spite of it. Rose endured the sickness and death of her 49 year old daughter Susan, and although it broke her heart, she did not let it break her spirit. Rose underwent cancer surgery recently. She demonstrated herculean resolve to leave the hospital early, and recovered in record time…. a tribute to her competitive spirit and resolve.


Rose was youthful in her appearance, often being mistaken for being 20 years younger. Her energy and zest for life was continually evident. She led a life with confidence and without fear.  She wanted to live fully, and at 93 she was determined to thrive – even as she made the decision to undergo an aortic valve replacement – knowing the risks. As she waited in the holding area of the hospital prior to the surgery, Rose said, “Let’s get on with it!”.  Rose died on July 28, 2017 with her family at her side.


Rose is survived by her loving husband Manny, her devoted daughter Rona, her loving son-in-law Neil, her nieces Rena and Debbie, and her nephews Robert, Jerry, Robert, Ronnie, and Alan.


Much of the energy, curiosity, and devoted work ethic that we see in Rona, we saw in Rose, and Rona no doubt modeled it from her.  In reflecting on this, we were reminded of a paragraph written by Mary Catherine Bateson, in a book, With A Daughter’s Eye”, that she wrote about her parents, Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson. This passage from Bateson still resonates:


“A parent dies and one gropes for a certain knowledge of the person who is gone. More and more, it has seemed to me that the idea of an individual, the idea that there is someone to be known, separate from the relationships, is simply an error. As a relationship is broken or a new one developed, there is a new person. So we create each other, bring each other into being by being part of the matrix in which the other exists. We grope for a sense of the whole person who has departed in order to believe that as whole persons we remain and continue, but torn out of the continuing gestation of our meetings one with another, whoever seems to remain is thrust into a new life.“


Some of this new life we are thrust into involves the new realities and logistics of life that Manny, Rona, and Neil are just now beginning to understand and grapple with. Rose was with Manny almost continuously during their 62 year marriage. They had a lovely and enviable loving relationship. Rose was fiercely committed to Manny’s well being, and took very good care of him.


Rose was amazingly youthful in her appearance, attitude, and life perspective. She was a strong, thoughtful, intelligent person interested in new ideas. She truly embodied life, and wanted to live fully and completely.  Rose supported Israel, the Israeli Red Cross, and breast cancer research. She supported her daughter Rona’s surgical career, and Rona’s commitment to the Pacific Vision Foundation.


We will greatly miss her love, companionship, energy, support and sense of humor.


In lieu of flowers, those who would like to make a donation, please do so at the Silkiss Family Research Fund at the Pacific Vision Foundation:

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Memorial Service
August 6, 2017
3:30 pm
Oakland: Chapel of the Chimes
4499 Piedmont Avenue Oakland, CA 94611
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