Florence Rosenberg

Fri, 05/07/2021 - 8:30am

Florence Pène-Rosenberg died peacefully on May 7, 2021 at 1 a.m. in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, surrounded and supported by her three children. ` .

Born in August 1931 to French parents in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (then called Abyssinia), Florence first stood on French soil at the age of two. Her childhood, first in Paris and then Soissons in northern France, was a normal one, until the war.

Her mother Francoise, being Jewish, and her father Pierre Pène, getting very deeply involved with the Resistance, complicated things. Florence and her sister kept their sanity by swimming training and competition. In April 1944, Pierre was arrested, tortured and incarcerated by the Gestapo. When he escaped, the whole family was arrested. Francoise and Pierre’s sister Clotilde were the two kept in custody, the children (ages 18, 17, 12, 8 and 1) and the maid “liberated” from house arrest after a few days. Miraculously, they all survived the war.

In occupied West Germany after the war, living at Umkirch, they entertained the celebrities of the day. Meanwhile, Florence was pursuing a master’s degree in psychology, first in Strasbourg, then in Paris, where she did some research for Jean Piaget, who became a friend.

A Fulbright scholarship sent her to Columbia University for a year. There, she met Pete Rosenberg who became her husband. They raised their three children in Newton, Massachusetts. With other mothers, in her basement, Florence started Ecole Bilingue, which has now become the International School of Boston.

Florence undertook studies in library science at Simmons College and after graduation worked first at the French Library of Boston, then at Boston College. Florence and Pete divorced in 1975.

Florence then lived in Sugar Hill/Franconia, New Hampshire with Harry Levin, and traveled extensively with him, from 1981 to his death in 1998.

Florence moved to Boothbay Harbor in 2004 to be near her younger daughter Barbara Prose. She made new friends and enjoyed living on the peninsula. She worked for three summers at the House of Logan. She volunteered many summers at Friends of the Library used book store.

Surviving her are her three siblings, Annette Guillaut, Didier Pène and Olivier Pène, their mates and their descendants, in France; her three children, Kay Bourgine in Paris, Kabba Anand in Hawaii, and Barbara Prose in Oklahoma and their mates; her grandchildren, Ramoda Anand, Sophia Prose, Celeste Prose, Tristan Bourgine and Lucas Bourgine (who had lived with her for his last year of high school); her stepsons, Jonathan and Steven Levin, their wives and their children.

Florence will be buried in a shroud without a casket or any embalming, under an oak tree in a “green cemetery” in Limington, Maine.

Contributions may be made to the ACLU, the Boothbay Harbor Memorial Library, the Boothbay Region YMCA, and/or the Boothbay Region Land Trust.

Planting nasturtium seeds would also be a wonderful way to honor Florence.