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Category: Press

New Residents Enjoy Welcome Breakfast

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Interconnection is what Cedar Sinai Park is all about, and a number of new connections were formed at Rose Schnitzer Manor’s welcome breakfast last week.

“Where did you live in Connecticut?” asked Resident Welcome Committee Chair Harriet, of new resident Ann. “Where?! Hamden?! You’re kidding, I lived there!” The ladies proceeded to share common shops they frequented and laugh over the potential of paths crossing.

Forrest and Sandy were celebrating their one-month anniversary at Rose Schnitzer Manor during the welcome breakfast. “We like it here,” said Forrest. “We came because the cost was more reasonable than other places we toured. Now that we’re here, we like the food, and the people are very nice.”

Ann, who had been with Cedar Sinai Park for seven weeks at the time of this writing, said she came to Rose Schnitzer Manor because her son lives in Portland. “People take me places and I’m so grateful,” she said. “The food is good. I am a nutritionist so I appreciate the food.”

Added Norma, “The food is wonderful, and the people here have been friendly and the service is great. I’ve been very happy during my one month here; people have been very kind.”

The new resident welcome breakfast is also an opportunity for people to connect with Rose Schnitzer Manor leaders to ask questions, said Erin Hickox Acker, Resident Transitions and Experience Director. Invitations are sent to new residents, and the welcome committee distributes the invitations.

“We want people to feel comfortable as they become acclimated to Rose Schnitzer Manor, and to have access to leadership so they can find talk about any needs that have come up in their first few weeks,” said Erin. “We also want residents to come out of their rooms and get to know one another in a fun way, and the welcome breakfast is one good way to make that happen.

For more information about Rose Schnitzer Manor, or a tour, please call Erin, (503) 535-4004, or email,




Sinai In-Home Care Offers Former Stay-at-Home Dad Flexibility

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

There comes a time when many stay-at-home parents decide to re-enter the workforce, and it was that moment in 2019 that brought Michael Gettel-Gilmartin to Sinai In-Home Care.

“A friend of mine had worked here, and she said it would be a great place for me,” said Michael, who recently celebrated his fourth anniversary with Sinai In-Home Care. “The kids were grown and didn’t need me as much, and it seemed like a good time to return to work.

“I think I found my vocation at my late age of almost 60!”

Michael was a volunteer caregiver for three years during university in Exeter, England, where he grew up. “It was a sweet connection with seniors in our community,” he said. “We’d have a cup of tea and chat.”

After graduating with a bachelor of arts in English literature, Michael moved to Japan where he met wife, Marie, an Oregon native. The couple have three boys, and Michael managed the children’s schedules and activities for 20 years.

Michael initially began with one client at Sinai In-Home Care, and now works about 30 hours a week. Currently, he has four clients, all male, ranging in age from 78 to 99. Typical tasks include driving, reading, helping with the computer, dressing, writing cards, going to the store, and helping to organize appointments.

“I just love it,” he said. “I love hearing their stories and I love being able to help them. One of my clients is a World War II veteran and self-made businessman, and he is just a hoot. I just loved him the minute I met him.”

Michael often provides respite care for his clients’ families who do the bulk of in-home care, but sometimes need a break.

“Everybody loves Michael,” said Heather Hess, Sinai In-Home Care interim director. “All of Michael’s clients would love more time with him because he is a man with a heart of gold. He is so dedicated to his clients. Even when he’s away on vacation, he will send emails asking how things are going with his senior friends.”

Added Michael: “It would be a nice thing if I were able to encourage people to try caregiving. I like listening to stories, helping people, and meeting others, so I would 100% recommend this job.

“I like working here. Everyone is very supportive and there’s good training and support.”

For more information about Sinai In-Home Care, call (503) 542-0088.




Meet the Torahs at Cedar Sinai Park

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Cedar Sinai Park owns three Torahs that are used for a variety of Jewish services and holidays, and resident Bar/Bat Mitzvahs.

“We exist because of Torah,” said Board Member Eddy Shuldman, who is chairperson of the Religious and Spiritual Life Committee. “The Torah teaches us about honoring our parents, valuing our elders, and about choosing life!”

Eddy said all three Torahs have been with Cedar Sinai Park for a very long time. “I can’t begin to estimate the length of time we have had these Torahs,” said Eddy. “But the Torahs are all estimated to range in age from 50 to 120 years. We do know that the Nudelman family generously donated a Torah in memory of Alysmae Nudelman in 1997.”


Two of Cedar Sinai Park’s Torahs are typically housed in the Cogan Chapel ark in the Robison Jewish Health Center/Harold Schnitzer Center for Living, and one is generally in the Zidell Hall ark. We also currently have one Torah in the Zidell ark, which is on loan from Congregation Shaarie Torah.

Just prior to the onset of Covid, all three campus Torahs were inspected by a sofer (scribe) for the first time in their history with Cedar Sinai Park, a gift from Marcy Tonkin. Two of the Torahs are currently in Florida undergoing the necessary repairs.

The remaining Torah on campus is our smallest, a 16” medium weight scroll, written in a Nice Bet Yoseph script approximately 100 years ago in Germany. There are 42 lines per column. The scroll is called a “vuv” scroll, which means that almost every column starts with the letter “vuv.”

“Vacationing” in Florida, said Eddy, is our other “vuv,” a 21-inch, heavyweight Torah scroll written in a Good Bet Yoseph Sephard script approximately 50 to 60 years ago in Israel.

The other Torah under repair is a 16.25” lightweight Torah scroll written in a Good Bet Yoseph script approximately 120 years ago in Germany.

Eddy said that prior to Covid, Cedar Sinai Park participated in B’yachad, pairing Rose Schnitzer Manor residents with Portland Jewish Academy seventh and eighth grade students.

B’yachad means ‘together’ in Hebrew. One of B’yachad’s last activities was cleaning the scrolls before sending them off to Florida, one of the most “memorable activities,” said Eddy.

“These Torahs are treasured and have been lovingly used for Shabbat and holiday services for decades,” she said. “They are considered a part of our Cedar Sinai Park family!




New Logo for Cedar Sinai Park Highlights Inclusivity

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Cedar Sinai Park has re-branded itself with a new logo that represents the inclusivity the organization seeks.

“Looking at our new logo, no matter your religion, culture, or ethnicity, you can feel a sense of belonging,” said Board Chair Steve Rallison. “Appealing to the larger community, without forgetting our Jewish roots,  is a direction Cedar Sinai Park  has been headed for a while.  The new logo is indicative of the organization’s inclusive, forward-moving direction.”

Chief Executive Officer Kimberly Fuson said the new logo was a year in the making. “There were many discussions with residents and staff and the community and board about what makes Cedar Sinai Park unique, and how we carry our foundational Jewish values of  love, honor, and respect  into the next century,” she said. “We believe the design selected hits all of those notes.”

Fuson said the design was intentionally inclusive with the Star of David in the middle, representing Judaism and the “heart” of Cedar Sinai Park’s history and longevity, but additional elements were added to represent interconnection with others, including a cross, curving toward the heart, a flame, for the energy and positivity in the community, and leaves as a symbol of new growth and opportunity.

“Our new logo weaves inclusivity into the tapestry of life at Cedar Sinai Park; this logo is an expression of Kulanu,  of all of us together ; of residents, families, staff, volunteers and trustees learning and growing in support of our mission at Cedar Sinai Park residents,” said Fuson.

Currently, about 75 percent of elders who access Cedar Sinai Park’s services are Jewish; the other 25 percent are a mix of other cultures, ethnicities, and religious and spiritual affiliations.

“We know that in order to flourish as an organization, we need to serve the broader community,” said Fuson. “Many of our non-Jewish elders are referred by their Jewish friends, and we always want them to have a place at our table and feel welcomed, while at the same time honoring the foundational Jewish values upon we have been known for the past 102 years.

“We are an organization that embraces diversity and our logo represents that inclusivity,” said Fuson. “By virtue of our Jewish heritage, we are a people who deeply understand oppression. Many of our staff sought to work at Cedar Sinai Park because we embrace the unique richness of each individual. Often, we find that people of other cultures understand that about our community and want to work and live and connect with us because they feel safe expressing their whole person.

Fuson said the new logo expresses the idea of person-centered care, where the entire community supports each other regardless of where they are in their aging journey.

“At Cedar Sinai Park, our culture of community supports first knowing each person with whom we work, live and volunteer. We all care for each other. As one of our trustees said, “our logo feels like being embraced in a warm blanket of love.”

Linfield Student Nurses Receive Hands-on Clinical Training at Cedar Sinai Park

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Nursing students from Linfield College are at Cedar Sinai Park for eight-week clinical rotations, as part of their bachelor of nursing program. Almost two dozen students have been helping at Robison Jewish Health Center/Harold Schnitzer Center for Living with tasks such as interviewing patients, changing wound dressings, feeding meals, transferring our beloved friends, and administering insulin.

Groups of students began rotations here in August, and the last group will finish in early December. Several shared their observations, as their rotation was winding down.

“We’ve all pictured what nursing homes would be like, yet coming here was completely different,” said nursing student Makenzie. “It’s clean here and it doesn’t smell, and the residents are well taken care of. It’s a very friendly environment. The nurses are very empathetic towards the residents and are willing to spend the time to get on their level and talk with them.

“It’s really cool because the residents have tons of activities to do. This is way more than just somewhere for them to exist. It’s a full experience, which is really nice.”

Makenzie added that Cedar Sinai Park has “everything needed to provide efficient care” and help its nurses succeed, and that the rotation offers nursing students the chance to see different health professionals in action. Several of the students pursuing nursing degrees already are certified nursing assistants and have worked in other elder living facilities.

“It’s nice to see the whole process of how the different roles work,” said nursing student Tiffany. “Doing rotations, you kind of worry, because we’ve all heard horror stories of nurses that don’t want to work with students because they’re rushed due to Covid and don’t have time for students, but everyone here is great.”

Linfield Adjunct Professor Florence Omekara, Ph.D., R.N., I.B.C.L.C., agreed the clinical experiences at Robison Jewish Health Center/Harold Schnitzer Center for Living have been positive and effective.

“We are all very appreciative of the learning experiences and support here at this facility,” said Omekara, “and the students are excited to use the skills for their future nursing practice as they go out into the workforce.”


Jeremy Schwartzberg: A Foodie Comes to Oregon

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

You might say Jeremy Schwartzberg grew up in food.

“Our family owned a food business,” said the senior chef at Rose Schnitzer Manor (pictured at right, with longtime cook Martin). “I grew up in the Catskills and Borsch Belt. All the hotels around us were kosher and we sold them all food. I’ve never walked in the front door of a kitchen; I was always in the back door.”

Jeremy is a lifelong New Yorker and talks like one, rapid-fire, short, and direct sentences. He’s lived in a number of states: Georgia, Nevada, and Florida, among others.

Four years ago, his best friend who’d moved to Portland suggested Jeremy try Oregon. Jeremy took a job at an insurance company, but before he could start working, he was asked to interview at Cedar Sinai Park.

“The executive chef and I met in the Lubliner private dining room, and Lubliner is my mother’s maiden name,” he said. “After the interview, I called my brother and asked, ‘Is this a sign?’ Mom had just died. He said I should take the chef job. So, I started working here and I’ve been here ever since.”

Jeremy attended the State University of New York (SUNY) Oneonta for a bachelor of arts in business administration and economics, and then went on to SUNY Sullivan County Community College for a culinary degree.

Fortunately, for Cedar Sinai Park, cooking kosher comes naturally to Jeremy. He does a great job explaining to new employees how kosher works and the need for separate dairy and meat kitchens, along with which animals can be consumed and when and how kitchen items can be shared and how to determine whether a product is kosher certified.

“I actually grew up non-kosher,” he said. “I ate bacon at home. But we didn’t have milk on our table at dinner at home, and we never served meat and dairy together.”

Jeremy said he orders all of Rose Schnitzer Manor’s kosher food from Seattle, and the kosher meats are from South America.

“I didn’t know they had rabbis slaughtering and blessing our food, but all our meat comes from Paraguay,” he said, chuckling.

“Kosher is a better quality of meat,” said Jeremy. “The cuts are better. The animals are humanely slaughtered to remove all of the fat and nerves and as much blood as possible, so there’s really not too much bacteria left, and it’s good quality. It feels a little healthier and richer.”

What is the most popular meal? “Anything with chicken or meat,” he said. “Friday night Shabbats here are the best.

“We serve tons of fish. Fish must have fins and scales, so no shellfish. We often serve salmon, or sole, red snapper, or halibut.”

A typical day has Jeremy putting away the produce that’s been delivered, and he has to place all the food orders by 10 a.m.

“US Foods, Sysco, Pacific Seafood, Alpenrose,” he recited. “I order produce every day. The two big boys, I get twice a week. I do my affordable kosher order for the upcoming week. It’s a week in advance. Then, on Wednesdays, I usually put away all the food and I usually prep all day or cook or whatever needs to be done. I do all the catering. I prep and cook on Sundays and Thursday.”

The kitchen is a very busy place, and the dining rooms are a main attraction for residents’ not just for food, but socially. So, Jeremy often pulls six-day weeks, with holidays like Passover even more time consuming, he said.

In his spare time, Jeremy plays golf. “My grandparents lived on a golf course in Florida, but I never golfed a day in my life until I moved out here. And now I play three days a week.

“This place is great. I like working here. I’m a mentor. I help everybody here; that’s who I am. It’s very family-oriented, and I feel like I’m hanging out with my grandparents.


PCC Students Benefiting from Cedar Sinai Park Partnership

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

When Portland Community College (PCC) student Richana McManus was looking for an internship in gerontology, Cedar Sinai Park was her first choice.

“I heard Nancy [Heckler] speaking about Cedar Sinai Park’s Adult Day Services program and I was almost salivating,” said McManus, who describes herself as a middle-aged woman looking for a career to suit her skills. “I knew from day one that I wanted to work with people who have Alzheimer’s and dementia and I was in a deep search for an internship opportunity, so the information came from the right person at the right time.”

Richana is one of four PCC interns who volunteered in Adult Day Services this spring for their professional gerontology certificates. PCC students in the gerontology program are required to volunteer in a gerontology setting for at least 130 hours to graduate, said McManus.

The PCC and Cedar Sinai Park partnership began in 2011, said Heckler, who directs Adult Day Services.

“We have a long history of partnering with PCC students in the gerontology program,” said Nancy. “The four interns this spring were a great group. The partnership is a win-win endeavor for all of us.

“Our union with PCC is one of theoretical and practical knowledge. We need each other to grow, to learn, and to experience the complex and diverse ways of living together as we age.”

PCC Gerontology Instructor Michael Faber said Cedar Sinai Park is typically the internship of choice for many of his gerontology students. “We just love having our students there,” said Faber. “They get such a high-quality experience, and we know it’s a high-quality facility, and that the organization recognizes person-centered care, which is how we teach our students.

“It’s important to have the kind of education and training that a Cedar Sinai Park internship provides,” he said. “And working with staff like Nancy, in particular, who understands the mission of our program is incredible. Each intern is worked with individually, and is helped to discover and grow in their career development. Our students really get what they need. The internships are great, and we love them.”

McManus will be job hunting after winter term and said she greatly enjoyed the Cedar Sinai Park experience.

“I like the philosophy of staff in working with the group members who come here,” said McManus. “I like the attention to detail that they pay to what is comfortable for each individual, and the group as a whole. Every person who comes to the Adult Day Services program is known.

“We still ask them if they want coffee, even though we know the answers to those questions. It’s giving the group members an opportunity to interact and have agency. I really love that because every aspect of the program is designed for success for the people who participate,” she said.

“It’s very prevalent that people will write off a person with dementia. They think there’s ‘nobody home.’ And that isn’t the case at all. That’s what brought me to this work because someone’s `home’ in every heart.

“I have learned so much from being here.”

Barbie Enkelis: Retiring to Her Second Home

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

It is safe to say, Barbie Enkelis, 71, has never forgotten a birthday.

“Your birthday is May 14. Her birthday is December 16 and hers is January 9. Kathy’s is April 15. And Kimberly’s birthday is in June, the 24th,” she says, rapid-fire while visiting the executive offices of Cedar Sinai Park.*

For more than 28 years, Barbie has commemorated the birthdays of employees as the nonprofit’s Simcha Coordinator. She also remembers the room numbers in which people have lived, stayed, or worked. And she memorizes license plates, so when a car is parked illegally, Barbie is the one to find.

“I like numbers. I don’t know how I remember. My mom used to say she wishes I would remember other things like to go home on time,” said Barbie, with a laugh.

“Barbie is an institution,” said Community Life Director Jennifer Felberg. “She practically lives here. We love Barbie and we have to share her with her own family, so we tell her to go home.”

Given that Barbie’s home has been Robison since she was an infant, “it’s going to be very hard to walk away,” said Barbie. “I know it will be a tear jerker.”

Cedar Sinai Park is definitely a family affair for Barbie. Her mom and dad, Velma Zelda (Cissi) and Milt Carl, used to bring her to the Robison Home to visit her grandparents, Gussie and Nate Carl. Home lore has it that residents would rock little Barbie when she visited.

“She was a good girl,” said Harold Schnitzer Center for Living resident Joeen Rodinsky, whose family was friends with Barbie’s family. “Her family were lovely people.”

As Barbie grew up, her dad joined the Robison Home board (president in 1982 and 1983), with friends Henry Blauer and Leonard Barde, and Milt was instrumental in the fundraising for the construction of Rose Schnitzer Manor for independent and assisted living. Barbie’s sister, Pam, and her brother-in-law Stan Rotenberg were also deeply involved. Stan was president in 1987 and 1988.

“And then my dad talked me into working here,” said Barbie, whose first day was in 1993.

As an employee, Barbie regularly walks the hallways named for her father and his friends. “Everywhere I go, I see my dad,” she said.

Some of the residents now living at Cedar Sinai Park are either related to Barbie or knew her family members. “A few are like my parents—they still tell me what to do,” she said, laughing again.

Indeed, Barbie just wheeled one relative to an activity at Harold Schnitzer Center for Living, and another resident who she often escorts to the Goodman Living Room for recreation was Barbie’s southeast Portland neighbor growing up and attended high school with her.

“We have a joke going where he asks me what’s for dinner and I say that I’m cooking,” said Barbie. “Our family was never in our kitchen because we didn’t eat at home, so we both laugh at that one.

“Today would have been his dad’s birthday, too.”

Cissi stayed in the Home after surgery in 2010. Husband Mike’s aunt and uncle, Lois and Marvin Enkelis, were briefly at the Home in 2006 and 2009, respectively, and Mike’s grandmother, Rose Shnitka, was in memory care in the early 1980s. Son, Gary, volunteered at Robison and Rose Schnitzer Manor. Milt’s sister, Eva Walleston, lived at Rose Schnitzer in 2012. Stan’s mother, Vivian, lived in memory care in the late 1990s, and his father, Lou, was at Rose Schnitzer Manor in early 2000. And current chief executive officer Kimberly Fuson is Barbie’s cousin.

“Barbie, is there anyone you don’t know in the Jewish community?” she’s asked.

“No, there isn’t,” Joeen answers for Barbie. “And if she doesn’t know them, she knows someone who knows them. She remembers everyone.”

Over the years, Barbie has worked in Life Enrichment (previously activities) and as a receptionist. But her favorite activity remains Bingo, a game she never played as a child, never played at home with Mike or Gary, and only picked up in her forties as a Cedar Sinai Park employee.

“I love Bingo,” said Barbie, who often sports a Bingo mask and had the B-I-N-G-O song as a cell phone ringtone. “I’m going to miss it, especially when I know a Bingo Day is coming.”

Longtime volunteer Charles Jagger has known Barbie for more than 20 years. “I would think that we will have Barbie go on outings, and she will probably be volunteering when the residents visit restaurants. I have a feeling she will be back occasionally.”

Barbie asks about going to Washington Square.  “There isn’t enough time for us to have you go out to Washington Square!” said Charles.

“They said they would only take me one way,” said Barbie, with another chuckle. “I like to shop and they won’t let me go with them because I’ll be there all day.”

Barbie’s plan is to retire August 25. “That’s the anniversary of my dad’s death,” she said.

During Covid, Barbie worked from home, but would walk to the Home to peek in the windows to see what was happening because she was “going crazy” not being here.

“Every community needs someone like Barbie,” said Kimberly. “She is our heart and soul.”

In her new free time, Barbie says Mike wants to travel, perhaps a cruise. She intends to go shopping more. But she’ll be close by, for whatever happens. She wants to volunteer as a Bingo caller.

“I have three homes on this street,” said Barbie. “My home is number one, the Harold Schnitzer Center for Living/Robison Jewish Health Center is number two. And Rose Schnitzer Manor is number three.

“It’s time to go to home number one now.”

*Birth dates have been changed for privacy. But trust us, Barbie knew all of the exact dates by heart.

Annette Gerard: Selling it Like it is

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

Need some candy or a card? Forgot to buy laundry detergent? Or would you like Judaica for a Jewish holiday?

Rose Schnitzer Manor’s Stop N’ Shop has you covered.

“We have a tremendous number of items for sale, including jewelry,” said Annette Gerard, 96, who has managed the Stop N’ Shop with the help of volunteers for the past five years, and volunteered at the store for seven years prior. “We have a few connections who donate items or give us stuff at cost, and we have a good amount of stock now.”

No one can quite remember when the Stop N’ Shop officially opened. But Facilities Manager Tammy Heard believes the store began around 20 years ago. The space used to house a coffee bar for residents.

Today, the Stop N’ Shop is open four days a week (Monday through Thursday) from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Each day, different volunteers help residents and their families ring up their purchases.

“It’s hard to know what might sell on any given day,” said Annette. “Sometimes, people will come in and see candy in the front of the display that reminds them of their childhood. It can be weeks before I sell laundry detergent and then three people will come in on the same day and clear out the shelf.”

Monday volunteer Margaret Gotesman (pictured at left with Annette) is the store buyer. “She comes in on Monday, looks around, takes inventory, and sees what we need,” said Annette. “She knows what sells and then goes out to shop.  The following Monday, she brings in new items, puts on a price, and then it’s out for sale.”

Two volunteers–Barbara Rudolph (Tuesdays) and Marilyn Soulas (Wednesdays)— had mothers’ living at Rose Schnitzer Manor and volunteered to help Annette even after their family members passed. Elaine Salburg is a friend of Marilyn and Margaret and tackles Thursdays. Annette fills in on the days her volunteers have timing conflicts. All monies raised go to the Cedar Sinai Park Foundation.

“The four volunteers are wonderful,” said Annette. “We wouldn’t be open without them.”

Annette and her husband, Melvin, lived in Queens, New York, for 60 years. Melvin was an engineer and started a business designing equipment in 1965. The pair worked out of the family home, and Annette became the bookkeeper and secretary.

When Melvin died, Annette moved to Oregon after a few years and selected Rose Schnitzer Manor because she has four grandchildren and five great grandchildren in Portland.

“I like it here,” said Annette. “They take good care of us. They really do. The staff is wonderful. And the residents are very nice. And there’s a lot of activities.”

The walls in Annette’s apartment are filled with art creations: pictures in 3-dimension and others with intricately glued watch parts. Yarn lays on the sofa, waiting for Annette to turn it into a hat or scarf (Annette has donated nearly 4600 hats and scarves to charity, including Ukraine support groups).

“I make a hat every day while I watch television,” said Annette.

With her 97th birthday coming up in a few months, Annette has been training her heir apparent to coordinate the Stop N’ Shop books. There’s no firm date on when the transition is official, but store procedures have been drafted and systems already passed on.

“Somebody needs to do the bookkeeping,” said Annette. “I like the socializing with the customers. So, I’ll be here until I’m not needed any more.”

Jeanine Semon: Creativity Still Flowing at 92

Written by: Sydney Clevenger

When Jeanine Semon’s husband, Ed, used to leave for work every morning around 7:30 a.m., he would advise her to stay off the phone until after noon.

“That’s all he’d say,” said Jeanine, with a chuckle. “He knew my high-energy painting time was nine in the morning. And then after 12:30, he knew I’d painted. And he was right.”

Ed Semon recently passed (April 25, 2022), but even while grieving, Jeanine can still feel his quiet support in her artistic endeavors.

“I’ve been painting for more than 65 years,” said Jeanine. “In all that time, Ed never had an opinion, a preference about my work, neither criticism nor compliments. All he did was go along with what I wanted and he was always there to help with the children or cooking or whatever I needed, whether it was driving the car to New Mexico and West Virginia to show and teach, or to art museums and galleries in Chicago and Madison. He was a wonderful man.”

Jeanine Gassman grew up in Portage, Wisconsin. She attended University of Wisconsin in Madison for a year, then transferred to Parsons School of Design in New York to study costume design.

Disappointed in her New York choice, Jeanine decided to leave Parsons and New York and return to Milwaukee, taking art classes at the two arts schools available.

“They were mediocre classes,” said Jeanine. “So, I left and got a job working at the Red Cross.” It was during that time that Jeanine met Ed Semon. They married and had two boys, Bruce and Jesse. Later, Betsy would follow.

One day when she was 26, Jeanine took her sons—so small they occupied the same buggy—to the Milwaukee Jewish Community Center. There was an art show on view.

“I didn’t know there was an art exhibit,” said Jeanine. “I looked at the paintings, and was electrified. I went out to the desk and asked where the art had come from, and they said that there was an art class on Wednesday nights at seven. I said, ‘That sounds perfect.’

“The following Wednesday, I was in that class, and from there I never stopped painting.”

In the beginning, Jeanine concentrated on Wisconsin landscapes. She grew to love the native American philosophy of nature and its respect for creatures and trees. She made jewelry and learned stain glass. She began to have galleries of her own, and she taught art classes in Menomonee Falls, Wisc., Flagstaff, Arizona, and Rome, Italy.

“I was always meeting people that connected me,” said Jeanine. “I’m a person that opens the door when it’s offered.”

Jeanine describes her work as “healing art,” images that “give joy, comfort, and make you feel good.” She said a friend undergoing chemotherapy set up Jeanine’s dolphin prints in her treatment room for comfort. The hospital in Menomenee Falls where she and Ed raised their family has Jeanine’s paintings on their walls.

When Betsy was in school all day, Jeanine returned to the University of Wisconsin part time taking two classes each semester. She graduated with a bachelor of fine arts at age 48. That was in 1978.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said. “It didn’t make any difference to me that it was taking a while. I was in no hurry.”

Jeanine’s art was a constant by then as Ed taught school and wrote books. Many a winter the couple rented space in Oregon to visit Betsy who had taken a job at KEX Radio in Portland. During one of their stays, Ed suffered a stroke, and the pair moved to an assisted living facility.

Several years ago, Jeanine and Ed moved to Rose Schnitzer Manor at Cedar Sinai Park.

“There are a lot of good, interesting people here, and wonderful activities,” said Jeanine. “I am a people person, and that’s why I live here.”

In May, Jeanine’s work was displayed outside the Manor’s May Café, and she is considering teaching a class to residents. She is writing her third book about art. There are several large canvasses in her apartment upon which she has sketched emerging scenes, some in colors she has never tried before. She is hoping to exhibit her work soon at the Hillsdale library, since her first exhibit was in her hometown library and she loves books.

“This one is a series on creation,” said Jeanine, unrolling a set of five prints. “It is interesting because I discovered something psychologically about myself. Every one of these paintings has an exit. There’s a place to go out. There is freedom.

“These guys are coming out of the water and they’re floating and they can get out; there’s always an escape, a place to move beyond. These characters started as horses and as they migrated to the sides of the frame, becoming a different sort of water-sky creature.

“They represent passages and freedom to me. You know, you can’t keep animals alive and healthy by putting them in a protected place; they need to be able to mix their genes freely to survive.”

Jeanine is on a brief painting hiatus while she mourns Ed. But she wants people to know that ideas don’t have an age limit.

“I think people ought to know that when you’re 92, creativity is still coming,” she said. “When Ed was sleeping, I had so many ideas in the evening. I think it’s healthy to see that older people can achieve.”

For information on Jeanine’s books, go to or



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