Schools supporter gets day named after him

By Hadas Ragolsky Special to the Daily Planet
Monday September 10, 2001

Mayor Shirley Dean will announce today that the city is dedicating the day, Sept. 10, to Ted Rosenkranz, an 80-year-old terminally ill resident who has long supported the Berkeley public schools. 

The honor, which the mayor rushed through at the end of last week, will be celebrated quietly with Dean personally delivering a certificate to Rosenkranz who has been at the Elmwood Longterm Care Facility for the last three weeks. 

“I always admired his dedication and support of the Berkeley schools,” Dean said on Friday. 

Rosenkranz, a Berkeley native who worked as a merchant marine, was too ill for an interview. But documents from his foundation and interviews with friends, show that he first turned his attention to the Berkeley schools in 1978 when he survived malignant melanoma. 

“As I grow older and am forced to accept the infirmities which come with age, I also experience a sense of gratitude and appreciation that there are still values that enrich my life and help to sustain me when things are not going too well.” wrote Rosenkranz in a biography attached to the papers that established his foundation, In Dulci Jubilo, which means is Latin for “sweet joy.” 

Since then, Rosenkranz has donated more than $300,000 to Berkeley’s schools. During the last school year, In Dulci Jublio awarded more than $16,000 in 43 mini-grants aimed at encouraging Berkeley’s children to read and spell, to sow vegetables, to plant trees, to create dolls and music or to study science and art. 

“Setting up an organization that might help stimulate a child’s curiosity and enthusiasm for learning and also encourage a sense that each of us has obligations that extend beyond ourselves, was an attempt on my part to repay what I consider a debt I owe to some of those who helped nurture me,” Rosenkranz wrote in the biography. 

Rosenkranz, an alumni of Washington, LeConte, Willard, St. Mary’s High and Berkeley High, may have ventured far with the Merchant Marine, but always considered Berkeley his home. During the depression, Rosenkranz sold newspapers with his younger brother Hiram.  

“We sold the San Francisco Chronicle in the morning and the Tribune and Gazette at the evenings,” his brother recalled. “In the old days they used to say; don’t work, don’t eat.” 

He continued to live on Fulton Street one door away from his parent’s house, and over the years purchased four houses the same block. “He worked hard all his life but he took care of what he accomplished,” said Hiram Rosenkranz, his younger brother. 

Pat Cody, a neighbor, said that the Rosenkranz family was the second on the street. 

“He is one of the silent benefactors that the average man probably doesn’t know but he contributes a lot to the Berkeley community,” she said. 

When he wasn’t working, Rosenkranz gardened. He grew lemons, apples, cactus flowers, squash, artichokes and many other vegetables.  

“He used to do garden-parties for the neighbors and tenants,” recalled Lydia Lass, one of Rosenkranz’s tenants. 

Every year Rosenkranz used to give the neighbors jars of blueberries for Christmas, pumpkins for Halloween, flowers and vegetables. His neighbors now visit Rosenkranz in his hospital bed where he has been since last month when he was diagnosed with two brain tumors and one in his right arm. 

Rosenkranz, who was a member of Berkeley High’s class of 1939, wrote a few years ago in his biography, “I have always had admiration for the teaching profession. Some of the persons who have helped me most to lead a meaningful and productive life have been teachers.” 

And teachers have responded enthusiastically to his support. 

“It’s incredible that you have a foundation that lets teachers dream what they want their classes to look like,” said Leah Rossman, a kindergarten teacher at LeConte school. Last year Rossman used a $400 mini-grant she received from In Dulci Jubilo to buy several books with large print so she could read together with all of her students. 

Timiza Wagner and Shahara Goffrey from Berkeley Alternative High School used $500 grant for personal development project for 9th grade girls, which focus on problem solving through creating soft sculptures.  

“Putting the layers of cloth on the doll was like pulling away the layers to me,” wrote Katie Myers, Wagner’s student, in a thank-you letter send to the foundation. 

The board members of In Dulci Jubilo become Rosenkranz friends. Henry Nelson, a retired physics teacher from Berkeley High school, explained: “ I was intrigued to see that their was a man trying to do good to the community. He asked me whether I would like to join the board and I agreed.” 

Nelson and Rosenkranz eventually became close friends. 

“Ted is a man of contradictions,” said Herb Singer, retired psychologist from the Berkeley schools systems and former boardmember. “He was very generous with big amount of money and yet he tends to get really tight with small amount of money.” 

Singer recalled shopping for an art, poetry and essay contest that In Dulci Jubilo sponsors every year. Rosenkranz, he said, insisted on driving to Lafayette where they could find cheaper soft drinks and cookies. Although, Rosenkranz attended these contests he refused to share the spotlight with the winners and instead served refreshments. 

Rosenkranz held board meetings in one of his houses. After making decisions, he used to serve the board members dinner that he cooked.  

“It was special to finish meeting and than sit with a glass of wine and eat together,” said Mark Coplan, the president of In Dulci Jubilo. “We lost this piece of history when Ted wasn’t able to continue doing it.” 

Three years ago, Rosenkranz ensured In Dulci Jubilo would survive his own life by selling one of his houses and putting the money in a trust to pay for the organization’s administrative costs. 

The last major contest he launched while still well was a spelling bee contest for Berkeley children. Rosenkranz insisted that both public and private school kids compete. The winners of this year’s contest will be sent to the Chronicle contest in San Francisco. 

Donations and cards can be sent to ‘In Dulci Diablo, Inc, 1225 Allston Way, Berkeley CA 94702.