Rose Century Soglin spent almost four decades raising her five children, all Highland Park High School grads. Then, at 59, the former Indian Trail Elementary School librarian, started a 20-year career managing the children’s book section of an independent bookstore in Santa Barbara, Calif.
Rose, who was called “a gentle, enthusiastic bundle of information” in a Santa Barbara newspaper profile, died Monday (Feb. 17) in Palo Alto, Calif., of complications from dementia. She was 90.
A service will be held in the Chicago area in the spring. The date and location will be announced later.
Rose was born Dec. 26, 1923, in Chicago to Jewish immigrants from Warsaw, Poland. She was the youngest of Chaim and Esther Century’s three children. Raising Rose, her brother, Sol, and her sister, Frieda, during the Depression, their parents taught them to seek fairness, justice and education for all.
Rose met Albert Soglin at a political meeting in Chicago in 1942. They married four months later. During World War II, Al joined the Army and was stationed at several bases around the United States. Rose accompanied him during a stint in Palo Alto, where she learned drafting skills. When she and Al returned to Chicago, she worked as a draftswoman until the end of the war and then was a laboratory assistant at the former Michael Reese Hospital.
Rose’s child-rearing years began when son Paul (named after the singer Paul Robeson) was born in 1945, followed by Debbie. By the early 1960s, when the family moved from Hyde Park to Highland Park, Ari and the youngest, twins Becky and Jonathan, had joined the brood.
A fierce believer in equitable public education, Rose had children enrolled in public school for more than 30 consecutive years. Among her words of advice to her children and, later, grandchildren: “Be good. And if you can’t be good, be careful.”
Rose and Al took their children (depending on the decade) to the Indiana Dunes, Pete Seeger concerts, marches against the H-Bomb and marches for civil rights. Their homes were filled with books, people, and the aroma of crescent cookies and marble cake.
In her 40s, Rose studied library science and got a part-time job at the Indian Trail school library, where Ari, Becky and Jonathan attended in the '60s and '70s. In Highland Park, Rose was a regular every Saturday at Sunset Foods and often was seen walking with her children to the Highland Park Public Library, the shops downtown and the Park Avenue beach.
Rose’s first husband, Albert, then a community college math professor in Chicago, died in 1976. With three children still at home, Rose at 52 learned to drive and got a new job to support her family.
Six years later, she married her former brother-in-law Martin Steinberg, a widower whose first wife, Betty, was Albert’s sister. Rose moved from the Park Avenue home in Highland Park where she and Al had lived for 22 years to Marty's home in California. For the next 22 years, she and Marty, a University of California-Santa Barbara chemist, enjoyed a household filled friends, children and grandchildren.
One day, Rose stopped by Chaucer’s Bookstore, which was teeming with books waiting to be shelved. She introduced herself to the owner, who said, “Put your purse down, and get to work!” Rose became the store’s children’s book buyer.
“I enjoy buying books, getting a preview and making my private criticism,” she told the Santa Barbara Independent in 1999. “But my favorite part is sharing a good book with a child.”
Rose, who had never before traveled out of the United States, went to Russia, Europe and China with Marty. Even as their cognition failed with age, their love remained. Marty, who had Parkinson’s disease, died in 2007. Reminiscing about her two husbands with her daughter Debbie, who was so often at her side, Rose quipped, “Are there any other men left in the family for me to marry?”
Rose is survived by her son Paul Soglin and his wife, Sara Soglin, of Madison, Wisc.; daughter Deborah Soglin and her husband, Dan Appelman, of Menlo Park, Calif., son Ari Soglin and his partner, Suzanne Portnoy, of Albany, Calif., daughter Becky Soglin and her husband, Rusty Hansen, of Iowa City, Iowa; son Jonathan Soglin and his wife, Eve Pearlman, of Alameda, Calif.; stepdaughter and niece Susan Fantl Spivack and her husband, Jay Spivack, of Cobleskill, N.Y.; stepson and nephew Richard Steinberg and his wife, Lisa Belluzzi, of Goleta, Calif., stepson and nephew Steven Steinberg of Santa Barbara, Calif.; and daughter-in-law Rae Lynn Fiscalini of Benicia, Calif.
Rose also is survived by grandchildren and step-grandchildren: Jesse (Beth Mitchell) and Zachary Appelman; Rachael, Alexandra and Natasha Soglin; Dashiell and Tatiana Soglin; Talia and Oliver Soglin; Jeremy (Faye Halpern) Fantl and Sarah (David LaRosa) Spivack; and Will Steinberg. She also is survived by two step-great-grandchildren and many beloved nieces and nephews.
In addition to being preceded in death by her parents and husbands, Rose was preceded in death by her siblings, brothers- and sisters-in-law, a niece and many dear friends.
The family welcomes memorial gifts to your local library or the ACLU.