Jack Neworth / Special to the Daily Press
Jerry Rosenblum, who lived in Santa Monica for nearly 60 years and was one of the city’s most beloved citizens, was a remarkably goal oriented person. This began when he was 12 and his father had died suddenly of a heart attack, this at the height of the Great Depression. With his family facing eviction, Jerry set a goal to get enough part time jobs to help support his mother and younger brother.
Seventy-six years later, at 88, Jerry set another goal, that being to write his memoir though he had no writing experience. So it was, five days a week he walked to the library with pen and pad and wrote eight hours a day . In a year he had completed a first draft and, never giving up, ten years later, with my help which was my honor, his book, “An Angel On My Shoulder,” was published and available at Amazon.
On his 90th birthday, Jerry set another goal, to live to be 100. Sure enough, on January 8th, he celebrated becoming a centenarian. Having reached that monumental goal, Jerry was delighted to be honored by Al Roker on “The Today Show.” But, as the saying goes, time waits for no man. So it was on Friday, the 21st, Jerry passed away leaving in mourning his friends and family. But fittingly, they’re also celebrating Jerry’s amazing life.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, in 1922, Jerry came to learn during the depression that it was a mistake to feel sorry for himself because he could see how many others had it even worse. He also realized it was far better to be grateful for what he had, than dwelling on what he didn’t. And in the Navy during W.W. II, he also learned about courage and sacrifice as he was stationed at Pearl Harbor not long after the Japanese attack.
Because of his family’s dire economic circumstances, Jerry developed a strong work ethic that would ultimately sustain his successful 50-year sales and store manager career in the men’s clothing business. (There he also became a meticulously dapper dresser and, as a salesman, utilized his wonderful lifelong sense of humor.)
From the age of 12 until 70, when Jerry retired, he was unemployed for a total of two weeks! So, on his 95th birthday, when friends asked what life was like compared to his nearly six decades of hard work, Jerry responded, “Every day feels like a vacation.”
Due to his many passions and intellectual curiosity, Jerry was never bored. Among his interests were reading, writing and adult education. This explained Jerry’s love of Santa Monica’s Emeritus College where, without fail, he took courses every semester in Current Events, Film Appreciation, and Music/Voice Training. Because of his infectious enthusiasm, Jerry was among the most beloved and admired students.
After he retired, singing in senior contests and entertaining others became Jerry’s most gratifying passion. But so was seeing the world via cruise ships. Once aboard, fearlessly Jerry entered more amateur singing contests. Despite being in his late 70’s, he frequently won and, in so doing, befriended many of his shipmates. Even in his 90’s, Jerry still had dozens of songs memorized. Also he wrote and recorded campaign songs for Hillary Clinton and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, both of whom he was thrilled to meet in person. The photos of Jerry and AOC are simply heartwarming.
In addition to constantly learning, what seemingly kept Jerry full of zest was his relationships with young people. He met Katie Miller, who would become his best friend, when she was 23 and volunteering at Jerry’s senior living apartment house. Jerry loved to say of Katie, “She’s added years to my life and life to my years.”
Katie not only planned Jerry’s last six birthday parties, she created and then managed his Instagram account. Amazingly, Jerry would amass 26,500 followers and seemingly became the Internet’s unofficial adopted grandfather to Millennial and Gen Z generations.
In the last year of his life, though ever humble, Jerry enjoyed tributes paid to him. In April, 2021, Emeritus College scheduled a program hosted by Dr. Scott Silverman, Dean, Non Credit and External Programs. During the ceremony, Jerry’s fellow students and professors expressed their appreciation for his being such a positive and inspiring force. And on his 100th birthday, at his bedside, Council member Phil Brock presented Jerry with a Commendation from the Santa Monica City Council.
It’s said you can judge the character of a person by the quality of his or her friends. Jerry’s legion of admirers, far too many to mention, are a group so diverse in age and background, but whose common ground is integrity, empathy and their love for Jerry Rosenblum who will forever be in their hearts. May he R.I.P.
To hear Jerry be interviewed Google: Emeritus College a Tribute to Jerry. Jack is at: email@example.com