Rebecca Alpern Obituary
 
In Memory of

Rebecca Elsner Alpern

Obituary

ALPERN, REBECCA ELSNER Rebecca Elsner Alpern, long time Ann Arbor resident, died on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at the age of 87, after a nine year struggle with Alzheimer's. Her adopted motto was "Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone." She did just that. Her warmth and kindness touched all she met and none of her friends or relations will ever forget her welcoming smile. Rebecca was the youngest of eight children born to Bonnie and Daniel Bowen. She grew up on a farm near the small town of Sydney, Ohio. She remained a farm girl at heart her entire life. She took great joy in her vegetable garden...
ALPERN, REBECCA ELSNER Rebecca Elsner Alpern, long time Ann Arbor resident, died on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at the age of 87, after a nine year struggle with Alzheimer's. Her adopted motto was "Walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in everyone." She did just that. Her warmth and kindness touched all she met and none of her friends or relations will ever forget her welcoming smile. Rebecca was the youngest of eight children born to Bonnie and Daniel Bowen. She grew up on a farm near the small town of Sydney, Ohio. She remained a farm girl at heart her entire life. She took great joy in her vegetable garden and caring for her yard. She would much rather be out picking tomatoes, mowing the lawn or shoveling snow than vacuuming the living room; and it would have given her great happiness in her adult years to be able to own a pig (sadly, her property was not zoned for pigs). Rebecca was always a remarkable student; she went from wowing her one room schoolhouse in Sydney, to earning a Phi Beta Kappa Key at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. After completing her undergraduate studies, Rebecca went to work in Columbus, Ohio. There she joined a co-op, which was one of the few places at that time where interracial dining was allowed. It was while traveling in such freethinking circles that she met her future husband, Mathew Alpern. They began their married life in Forest Grove, Oregon where Mathew landed his first academic job. All too soon, Rebecca found herself caring for their two small children alone, while Mathew convalesced in a tuberculosis sanitarium for an entire year. Rebecca would never forget the kindness shown to her during that difficult time, but it might also have been the era that honed her famous "tough as nails" spirit. In the early 1950's, she followed Mathew to Ann Arbor, where he took a research position at the University of Michigan. In addition to raising four children and supporting her husband's demanding career as a research scientist, Rebecca had a full life with many interests. She continued her education and earned a Master's Degree in history from the University of Michigan. She worked as a caregiver and devoted her time to many causes and organizations, and was also an accomplished amateur writer, artist and photographer. She was politically active, writing letters to the editor of the Ann Arbor News and volunteering for Hadassah, the Washtenaw County Jewish News, and Miriam's Friends, as well as being a delegate to the 1972 State Democratic Convention. She was an avid reader, a member of the Faculty Women's Book Club and a leader of the Junior Great Books after school program at Tappan Jr. High. She clocked in many hours as the world's best homework helper when her children were in school, and continued to share her love of learning with her grandchildren. These grandchildren were her greatest joy, but she also loved the two "Cookie" dogs that were her devoted companions in her later years. Her wonderful wit and artistry were captured in the hand painted Valentine's she made for each of her grandchildren, with personalized rhymes penned from the perspective of Cookie I and his predecessor, Cookie II. Rebecca always said she was "Tough as nails!" but it was a toughness softened by her unfailing sense of humor and kind heart. She is survived by her sister, Louise Griffin; her sister-in-law Eunice Alpern; her children, Bowen Alpern (Carol Holmes), Ann Alpern (John Laird), Barbara Alpern and Aaron Alpern (Rebecca Covey); and her grandchildren, Lincoln Alpern, Julian Alpern, Emrigael Alpern, Guinevere Alpern, Emily Bilek (Eli Bilek), Jessica Laird (Phil Shiu), Valerie Laird, Gabriel McGuinness (Laura Marin), Rory McGuinness, Adam McGuinness, Quinn McGuinness, Holden Alpern and Micah Alpern; as well as Andrew McGuinness, Robin Mallison Alpern, and numerous nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. Her husband, Mathew Alpern, and six of her siblings predeceased her. Funeral services will be held at Beth Israel Synagogue at 4:00 on Thursday, February 13, with an informal remembrance gathering to follow at the home of Ann Alpern and John Laird. Rebecca was very generous and donated to many charities including The Diabetes Foundation, Southern Poverty Law Center, Retinitis Pigmentosa Foundation, UNICEF and Save the Children. She also donated time and money to several political campaigns and was overjoyed to see Barak Obama elected President. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Rebecca's name to the charity of one's choice.

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"Rebecca was my backyard girl friend who shared with me many moments of over the fence amity raising children and vegetables. Rebecca never ceased to amaze..." Lin Wong (Ann Arbor, MI)

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Ann Arbor News
ALPERN, REBECCA ELSNER Rebecca Elsner Alpern, long time Ann Arbor resident, died on Sunday, February 9, 2014 at the age of 87, after a nine year...

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