Historical records matching Rhoda Goldman
About Rhoda Goldman (Haas)
Rhoda Haas Goldman, a San Francisco civic leader whose causes ranged from saving rain forests to free opera in city parks, died Saturday in Honolulu after suffering a heart attack. She was 71. Mrs. Goldman, a great-grandniece of denim magnate Levi Strauss, was a native San Franciscan who quietly gave her time, energy and wealth to numerous cultural, environmental and health- related causes. Perhaps the greatest of her many philanthropic achievements was the establishment, with her husband, Richard, of the Goldman Environmental Prize, sometimes referred to as "the Nobel Prize for environmentalists." In addition to her work as a philanthropist and volunteer, for the past decade she served on the board of directors at Levi Strauss & Co. Her brother, Walter Haas Jr., who was president and board chairman of the apparel firm, died last September. Her surviving brother, Peter, is the former chief executive officer of the San Francisco-based company. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley in 1945 and taught nursery school for a year before marrying Richard Goldman in June 1946. "I was weaned on social consciousness," she told The Chronicle in 1975. "It was part of the dinner table conversation." By many accounts, she was a woman of great heart who cared little for public acclaim but deeply about others' comfort and well-being. "She loved the city, and she dedicated most of her life to serving it," said her husband. "
The youngest son of Rhoda Haas Goldman paid his environmentalist mother the highest compliment in San Francisco yesterday as he pulled his eulogy for her from his coat pocket. "Mom," said Douglas Goldman, holding the paper he was about to read, "it's recycled. So are the programs." One thousand mourners, some standing in the rear of Temple Emanu-El, laughed softly at the reference to Rhoda Goldman's overwhelming passion for the environment which was, her son said, matched only by her devotion to San Francisco, to its music and arts programs and to her family. Douglas Goldman and his two siblings eulogized their mother, who died Saturday of a heart attack in Honolulu at the age of 71, as a woman born of privilege who knew how to return the favor. "She always had white gloves on, but she was never afraid to get them dirty," Douglas Goldman said. "She passed on the obligation to give back to the community, to be serious about life but to never take yourself too seriously," said Susan Gelman. "She didn't just talk about San Francisco, she made it a gem, from her beloved symphony to her championing of steam cleaning the streets," said John Goldman. "She was the original recycler, collecting newspapers and bottles before it became fashionable. Among the mourners were many civic and cultural leaders, from the mayor on down and on up. To report their names, one family friend said, would probably be to embarrass the modest woman they came to honor, a woman who rarely chose to stand in the spotlight. Former rabbi Robert Kirschner recalled Mrs. Goldman's bat mitzvah -- a Jewish coming of age ceremony. The rite usually occurs on the celebrant's 13th birthday but Mrs. Goldman's took place five years ago, when she was 66. At the time, Mrs. Goldman was serving as president of the congregation. "Never before in the history of Temple Emanu-El has the president of the congregation become a bat mitzvah, but Rhoda was not just anyone," Kirschner said. "How diligent she was in her studies." Mrs. Goldman was praised for establishing, with her husband Richard, the Goldman Environmental Prize, sometimes called the Nobel Prize for environmentalists, and also for her work as chairwoman of the Stern Grove festival and on behalf of women with breast cancer. She was also a member of the board of the family pants business, Levi Strauss, but there was no mention from the pulpit of her business ties, only of her ties to her 11 grandchildren. One by one, the grandchildren and their parents laid single red roses on her flower-covered casket, then took seats beside Mrs. Goldman's husband of 49 years, Richard. During the ceremony, a string quartet played a dirge by Schubert, San Francisco Symphony conductor Michael Tilson Thomas played a soft pavane by Ravel on the piano and cantor Roslyn Barak sang Hebrew prayers. Rabbi Stephen Pearce said it would be "difficult for me to look at Row F next Rosh Hashana and see (Mrs. Goldman's) empty seat." The afternoon rain let up long enough for a shaft of sunlight to shine through the stained glass window on the flower-decked casket and allow the mourners to file from the synagogue and depart for a private burial service.