On April 4, 2023, Lillian Rubenstein died peacefully at the age of 100 years and 8 months in her own home with her three children by her side. She passed away following a very brief period of declining health with a large, smiling picture of her late husband Bob immediately next to her.
Lillian was born on July 15, 1922 in Philadelphia. She was the only child of Ukrainian immigrants, Abe and Anna Cohen and was raised as an only child by her mother after her father passed away when she was only three months old.
In the late 1920’s, Anna and Lillian came to California at the beginning of the Great Depression, ultimately finding their way to Stockton where Lillian was raised and schooled. Lillian graduated from Stockton High while she was still 16. In the defining moment of her life, Lillian went to a youth gathering in Petaluma in May of 1939 and there, by chance, met a shy, blond haired, blue-eyed eighteen-year-old boy from Oakland by the name of Bob Rubenstein. She was as immediately and powerfully attracted to Bob as he was to her. They almost immediately began a 2 1/2-year long-distance courtship between Stockton and Oakland that culminated on December 14, 1941 when the young couple was married.
That day was the beginning of an idyllic, extraordinary almost fairytale relationship that ended only in 2018 when, after 76 1/2 years of a perfect, loving marriage, Bob passed away. Those many years were filled with as much joy, pleasure, happiness, fulfillment and love as any two people could possibly have enjoyed. During that time, the couple had three children, built the home in Piedmont in 1950 that that they together, and Lillian after Bob’s death, continuously occupied until Lillian’s passing and generally created and enjoyed a thoroughly wonderful life for themselves. They were fortunate enough to enjoy good health and life treated them very well. During their many years together, they created a large and loving family, formed countless extraordinarily close and enduring friendships and enjoyed many, many exciting, varied and wonderful life experiences together.
Bob and Lillian complemented each other perfectly with Lillian’s active, outgoing, energetic and strong-willed personality contrasting perfectly with Bob’s shy, more laid-back, easy-going, gentlemanly manner. As a couple, they were well known for always holding hands (even into their 90’s) whenever they were within reach of each other and for their frequent travels to every corner of the world. During those worldwide travels, they demonstrated a great capacity for constantly meeting, forming and maintaining lasting friendships with an incredible variety of interesting and diverse people of the highest caliber. Fittingly, their final trip was to Hawaii where they were able to celebrate their 75th wedding anniversary with immediate family and enjoy an amazing outdoor dinner on a gorgeous golf course overlooking the ocean watching the sun set in the western horizon followed almost immediately by the rise of a glorious full moon in the east.
Lillian was the family matriarch who organized and hosted all family events for many years. She had great style, grace and dignity, was well-known for being an outstanding cook and immaculate homemaker and possessed a strong sense of right and wrong. Lillian was determined to ensure that her children had all of the opportunities she never had as a child and, in that regard, she succeeded spectacularly. She was well-respected by both family and peers and was a person whose approval was sought by others.
She was extremely accomplished and there was almost no challenge that she could not meet and overcome. She enjoyed her gardening and was frequently recognized for the gorgeous and colorful display of tulips that graced the front of the family home every spring. She loved sports as both a spectator and participant. She was a devoted fan of the Oakland A’s and Golden State Warriors and, as recently as last month, took a keen interest in the trials and tribulations of the Warriors. As a participant, she was particularly known for both her skill and competitiveness as a tennis player. Well into her 100th year, she remained an accomplished mahjong player who thoroughly enjoyed the company of the wonderful ladies with whom she played.
Lillian and Bob were members of Temple Sinai continuously since 1956 and Claremont County Club for over 25 years. In her younger years, she was an active member of her socially conscious sorority, Theta Delta Xi and, in later years, she devoted substantial time and energy to The Cancer League and Hoe and Hope community garden
Lillian enjoyed the happiest, fullest, and most fulfilling life one could ever hope to lead. She overcame the adversity of a difficult childhood and devoted her life to being the best, most dedicated and loving wife, mother and friend that she could possibly be. In that regard, she was a total success. She lived a full and wonderful life.
Lillian was predeceased by her ever-adoring husband Bob who passed away in 2018. She is survived by her three loving children, Ron (Erica), Craig (Terri) and Barbee and by her nine grandchildren, Jeff Rubenstein (Amie), Tracy Weis (Brett), Greg Rubenstein (Whitney), Lisa Sommer (Justin), Kim Radtke, Brian Rubenstein (Haleh), Morgan Nelson (Charlie), Mallory Johnston (John) and Tim Johnston (Courtney). She also leaves behind 15 precious great-grandchildren.
The family would like to particularly acknowledge and thank Dr. Dean Nickles for his extraordinary and attentive care and caregivers Dhel Sanchez and Bambi Lao for the warm and compassionate care they gave Lillian during her final days. The family will be forever grateful.
The family will host a gathering celebrating Lillian’s well-lived 100 plus years on April 25. Those interested in attending should send an email to Barbeerube@gmail.com.
Donations in Lillian’s name can be made to The Cancer League, 6114 La Salle Ave., PMB 534, Oakland, California, The American Jewish Distribution Committee with any donation designated for the emergency campaign for Ukrainian Jews or the charity of your choice.