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Barbara Rochelle Katz GrossFebruary 7, 1936 ~ December 30, 2017 (age 81)
BARBARA KATZ GROSS, loving mother of three and grandmother of three, peacefully passed from this world on December 30, 2017. She was 81. Barbara is survived by 2 of her 3 children, Michael and Susan, (daughter Jamie passed in 2009), daughter-in-law Michelle Toth, her grandchildren Gabriela, Gina, and Phoenix, as well as her brother Paul Katz and his wife Denise. (Sister Arlene Katz passed in 2009). In addition, her nephew and nieces, as well as other relatives and many friends mourn her loss.
Most knew her simply as “Barbie.” An engaging social fixture, she made friends and community in every place she lived. She was known for her warmth, curiosity and wry sense of humor. And, as anyone who ever met her knows, Barbie was not one to mince words or be shy about expressing her opinion. Add to that her winning personality and unwavering integrity, and you’ve got the makings of a truly remarkable person. And being sparkly and the life of the party didn’t hurt. She was one of a kind; a force of nature.
Born in Cleveland, Ohio to Irving Katz and Hannah Green, she
moved to Los Angeles where Barbara was very popular at Hamilton high school, as she became president of the first Jewish sorority. On an outing at the beach in the mid ‘50s, she met her future husband, Norman Gross, who was throwing dice on the boardwalk. They soon got married and had a son, Michael. Susan came soon thereafter, and Jamie 10 years later.
Barbie was very creative; she nurtured her children and encouraged them to learn, explore, and follow their dreams. Barbie enthusiastically supported and helped enable those dreams, making sure all three went to college, and succeeded with creative careers.
She constantly exposed them to new things, sharing her love of movies and plays, unusual foods, and even a road trip to Europe. There are many wonderful memories of trips to the family cabin in Big Bear, vacations with friends’ families to Highland Springs…having a dedicated craft room in the house, as well as a rumpus room with a jukebox, pinball machine, and of course the mandatory after school poker games.
Barbie also followed her own dreams; often taking classes, trying new artistic pursuits, and flourishing as an interior designer. She was very generous, always opening her home to friends and family for hanging out or in times of need.
Barbara eventually relocated to Seattle where she began a new adventure. Being the social whirlwind that she was, Barbie could always be found organizing social gatherings, participating in crafting groups, and donating her time to volunteering. She fell in love with Vashon Island and became involved in the Havurah, volunteered at Vashon Community Care senior center, and was always excited to spend time with her granddaughters.
Barbie then moved to Alameda, California to be near her daughter Jamie and her new family. After Jamie’s sudden passing (2009), “Grandma Barbie” was very close with Michelle and granddaughter Phoenix. She eventually returned to the Puget Sound, where she enjoyed her friends at both Vashon Community Care and Kline Galland.
Barbara relished life and all it had to offer. She loved her family, friends, and touched many with her enthusiastic passions and joy de vivre. She will be sorely missed, may her memory be a blessing.
A celebration of Barbie’s life will be held on Saturday, February 10th, 2018 from 2:00 to 5:00 at Havurat Ee Shalom, 15401 Westside Highway SW, Vashon Island, Washington 98070.
Donations in her name can be made to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, a charity she generously supported.