faye cohen rosenblum faber, 1912-2010

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Me & Grandma at Jenny's Wedding

My grandmother passed away this morning. I was holding her hand when she took her last breath, and I had the chance on Friday afternoon to see her while she was still able to recognize and talk with me, and for both of those things I'm grateful.

Faye was an amazing, extraordinary woman. It's hard for me to put into words how much her influence and generosity enabled the success of the women (and men) in our family. I'll compile stories, and photos, to post over the next few weeks. But for now, I'll share this short biography that my mother wrote last fall for a well-reviewed exhibit of Faye's artwork that was held at the Jewish Home earlier this year:

Faye Faber was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, on October 20, 1912. The 7th of ten children born to Julia and Samuel Cohen, she was blessed with her father's good looks and her mother's sharp mind. There was little money--her father worked as a silk cutter in a garment factory--so everyone helped out by working at something, and the family was very close. Education was a high priority for the girls as well as the boys: Faye was sent to cheder where she learned to read the prayers and write Hebrew characters, which also came in handy for writing Yiddish, which the family spoke at home. When the Cohen children wanted to pass notes in school, Yiddish was the language of choice, because it could not be deciphered by the teacher.

Faye excelled in school, skipping grades so frequently that she graduated from Classical High School in Worcester at age 14. Latin and Literature were her favorite subjects, and she remembers doing her Latin homework right before class with Charles Olson, who later became a well-known poet. On days that admission to the Worcester Museum of Art was free, she and her sisters would spend hours there, enjoying the elegant atmosphere and wonderful paintings. This was the basis of her art education.

Faye received a full scholarship to Radcliffe, which she couldn't accept for lack of money for train transportation and textbooks. Instead, she worked, mainly as a clerk in a shoe store, thus contributing to the family income, and attended State Teacher's College in Worcester, from which she graduated with teaching certification. She went on to Clark University, from which she received an MA in History when she was 18. By the time she was 20 she was teaching at her alma mater.

In 1939, Faye married Harry Rosenblum, a young doctor from New York who had recently set up practice in Sturbridge, Massachusetts. They started a family: the children are Linda, Mark, and Deborah, all married now with children of their own, so that Faye is grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of five. Faye ran the household and the medical office, sat on the library board, and devoted herself to her children, sharing with them her love for literature and art. In 1956, Faye and Harry moved to Los Angeles, and for the first time Faye was able to take some art classes at night in the public high school. She painted, sculpted, and made jewelry. In 1979 they moved to a retirement village in Camarillo, California, where Faye continued her artistic hobbies when she could.

Harry Rosenblum died in 1985, and three years later, Faye married James Faber, a kind and brilliant self-educated man who had worked as a labor leader and businessman. When he became blind, she spent many hours reading to him - everything from Proust and poetry to newspapers and the New York Review of Books. After Jim died, Faye moved to Wolk Manor in Rochester, close to family, and then to the Jewish Home.

4 Comments

My condolences on the loss of your grandmother - I so admire artists; I hope you will post some of her work.

tons of love - Claire Covey Boone (Northport, AL)

My condolences to you on Faye's death. She sounds like an amazing woman. I wish I had known her. May her memory be a blessing to you and all who loved her.

I'm so sorry for your loss, Liz. Women like your grandmother made a whole other world possible for the generations that followed them.

Hello Liz. What a beautiful photo of you and your grandmother. It shows much love and admiration between the two of you. I know you have wonderful memories to cherish. --Tina

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This page contains a single entry published on June 14, 2010 8:26 PM.

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