In Memoriam: Phyllis Koshland Friedman

July 8, 2019

With the passing of Phyllis Koshland Friedman on July 2, 2019, Berkeley Social Welfare lost one of its most steadfast supporters.

Phyllis earned her BA in Social Welfare in 1944 — one of the first to graduate from our program — and came back in mid-life to earn her MSW here in 1971. She worked primarily with Russian émigrés and single teen mothers.

Her obituary describes the dynamic woman she was and how her worldview aligned with our profession: "She read widely, thought deeply, and cared about the larger community and world. She was a feminist dedicated to social and economic justice, civil liberties, and a caring and humane society with equal opportunity for all."

Dean Edleson remarks that he and his wife would visit Phyllis at her home in Hillsborough and have spirited discussions about social work and the world. "Phyllis was a remarkable woman who lived a life dedicated to improving the world. My wife and I so enjoyed meeting her for lunch and talking about social work that ranged from services to children to support for older members of our community. Her life was our inspiration," stated Edleson.

A donor for more than 50 years, she was exceptionally generous in her support of the School as well as other programs at Cal. She was a descendant of Levi Straus who endowed the first 28 student scholarships at Cal in 1897 and many buildings and schools on campus carry the Koshland, Haas and Goldman family names. Family members have served significant roles at Berkeley including her brother, Daniel Koshland Jr., and her sister-in-law, Marian Koshland, who were esteemed faculty members at Berkeley; her niece, Catherine Koshland, currently serves as Cal's Vice Chancellor for Undergraduate Education. Her sister, Francis "Sissy" Gebale is also an alumna of our School.

A celebration of her life will be held at 11:00 a.m. on what would have been her 96th birthday, August 27, 2019, at Temple Emanu-El.