|Birth: ||Mar. 23, 1893, Austria|
|Death: ||Feb. 22, 2001|
Los Angeles County
The last survivor of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire in which 146 of her co-workers perished in 1911, died on Thursday, February 22, 2001 in her apartment in Beverly Hills, Calif., her daughter said. She was 107.
Rose Rosenfeld was born on March 23, 1893, in a small town north of Vienna. Her family ran a profitable business importing and exporting dried foods. After her father visited New York and fell in love with it, the family began spending more and more time in the United States, finally emigrating in 1909. They sailed on the Mauretania. With Mrs. Freedman's father devoting most of his time to Jewish studies, the business was run by her mother. An aunt who lived with the family once sharply criticized the young woman's housecleaning abilities. "You call this work?" she demanded. Mrs. Freedman's response was to go out the next day and take a job at the Triangle factory. Since her language skills were good she eventually spoke seven languages she was given the prestigious job of operating a large machine to attach buttons to the blouses. Her only close friend at the factory a forewoman, died in the fire. She attended college in New York, although family members are not sure where.
When she and her mother took a trip to their Austrian hometown to show Mrs. Freedman's grandparents that she was really alive, World War I had broken out, and the Russians had invaded Austria. Her grandfather had befriended a man who turned out to be a Russian spying against his own country for Austria. She told of hiding him by burying him in coal in the basement, then talking the pursuing Cossacks into leaving without a search. After returning to New York, she got a job with Cunard, the steamship line. In 1927, she married Harry Freedman an American she had first met at the American Club in Vienna. He owned a typewriter store in New York. They had three children. When the two youngest were stricken with polio, Mrs. Freedman asked when they would be able to walk. The doctor said, "Five years." She replied, "I have time." Mr. Freedman died at 59 leaving Mrs. Freedman no money or source of income. She got an accounting job at the Manhattan Life Insurance Company. Her youthful appearance enabled her to say she was 50, when she was actually 64 "Of course it was a lie, but they didn't know it was a lie," she said. She worked until she was 79.
In 1995, she moved to Los Angeles, where her son Robert and her daughter, Arlene March, live. There, she became such an avid fan of the Lakers that she became livid if someone phoned while a game was being shown on television. On her 100th birthday she was presented with a team jersey bearing the number 100. She exhibited paintings at the Beverly Hills Art Fair, and continued to paint almost until her death. She had her hair and nails done weekly, and shopped and cooked for herself. Mrs. Freedman was still attending Spanish language classes at 107. "To me, 106 is a number," she said in the documentary. "I lived that long, not only on account of my genes, but on account of my attitude. You've got to stand up for yourself. Am I right?" Other survivors are another son, Herbert, of Rye Brook, N.Y., eight grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. She was overjoyed at the great-granddaughter's birth, and always advised the child's mother, her granddaughter.
Created by: Patrick Michel
Record added: Jul 16, 2006
Find A Grave Memorial# 14958187
|Photos may be scaled.|
Click on image for full size.