Executive Director's Report: Goodbye

This is my last report as Executive Director of the Rosenberg Fund for Children. When our next newsletter is published in September, Jenn Meeropol, my daughter, will be filling this ­position.

Turning over the helm of the organization that I founded, that fulfilled a life-long quest, leaves me with a complex flood of feelings. I am extremely lucky that Jenn wishes to follow in my footsteps, and that I have such a competent, committed and appropriate successor. I know also that the RFC requires fresher leadership if it is to reach out to younger people and fulfill its mission of helping a new generation of children of targeted activists and targeted activist youth. My strongest emotion is to be grateful to all whose love, work and support for over 60 years have made this possible.

I survived my childhood nightmare with the devotion and guidance of Anne and Abel Meeropol, the comforting presence of my older brother, and the aid, at critical moments, of a courageous and supportive community. This support left me with a positive attitude towards people that enabled me to become a happy husband and father. But it also left me with a desire to make something positive come out of the horrible events of my early years. The standard adult professions I tried, college teacher and then lawyer, could not fulfill this need.

I was 42 years old, adrift and unhappy in my work life, when I awoke in the middle of the night with the idea to build a foundation in my parents’ name that would help children experiencing what I lived through. It would transform the destruction that was visited upon my family into a positive force that would benefit a new generation of families the way the community of support rallied to aid my brother and me after our parents were killed. I still think of the RFC as my constructive revenge.

Suddenly my vague sense that I wanted to do something different had found its focus. But that did not guarantee that it would become a reality. First my wife, Elli, had to convince me that I could do this, and then my friend Dan Scharlin had to suggest the outline of a business plan, and finally dozens of financial backers had to take a leap of faith and pledge substantial multi-year support. In the fall of 1990, with the help of the RFC’s fledgling Board of Directors and performers Pete Seeger, Richie Havens, Country Joe MacDonald and Jane Sapp we gathered almost 2,000 local supporters. The following year we launched a national initiative that reached thousands more.

So many people have helped along the way—I can’t begin to give the credit you all deserve. And, although I will not be leading the RFC after September 1st, I will remain on the Board of Directors and continue to be involved. But instead of being in the office, I will spend more time visiting my grandchildren, and will concentrate on a new writing project about climate change and politics that I have already begun.

My parents wrote in their last letter to my brother and me that they died secure in knowledge that others would carry on after them. I’m confident that Jenn, the RFC Board and staff, and all of you will continue to carry this project forward to support activists and their children.


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Comments

Robert, I wish you all the best. You have done well in directing RFC, and I hope and trust your daughter will do likewise.

I wish you well. My mother went to your parents' funeral and they were always a presence in our home. By starting this foundation you have given others the opportunity to settle in some way our own childhood issues related to political work. It's satisfying to help other kids we relate to and get our own "revenge." My mother is now 96 and can no longer see well enough to read but has kept all her books about your parents. Thanks and enjoy your grandchildren. The struggle continues.

I was a child and I remember the looks on parents' faces and I didn't know why, but I knew something awful had happened. I'll never forget that day. It was about the Rosenbergs.

Congratulations on your handing over your work to your daughter.

Sir,
there are no words that can express the feelings about the experience you and your brother had to endure as children.
As a mother, I cannot even think of what you went through without feeling an immense sadness.
I have often wondered why life puts us through this and, if there is a Creator (as I believe there is) what is the sense of all of this.
It is wonderful that you were able to take your painful experience and transform it and use it to help others who might be going through the same situation.
I wish you all the best for your future and thank you for everything you have done to help others.

Best Regards,

Patrizia

When I found out about the Rosenberg Fund for Children I almost cried to see something positive come out of the horrible experiences that we went through during that time. Thank you for your vision and fortitude to see it through and help so many others.

You, my friend, are a hero. In the true definition of the word, you took risks for something you believed in and made it happen, made it damn good!!
No question, it will be carried on. I am so proud to know you and consider you a friend.

When I was fairly young I asked my dad what the meaning of life was. Without hesitation he said it is to make the world a little better because you were in it. Well done, Robbie, well done.

Burt Cohen

Dear Robert, Thank you so much for everything you have done to not only help so many children and young adults with your foundation, but in keeping the memory of your parents life and death ringing through out history and into the future. Enjoy your retirement.......

Your creation of the Rosenberg Fund for Children was an inspired, visionary act that not only made something positive out of the personal tragedy of your childhood, but also built something constructive as a response to the national nightmare of the red scare of the McCarthy era. Bravo to you, and to your daughter for carrying it on. Seeing the desire to foster a better world being passed on from your parents' generation to ours and to our children's provides a foundation for hope that, despite all the pain and violence that human beings are capable of, the light of a kinder and more compassionate world can continue to shine.

Thank you Robert for seeing/creating this important piece for the world. I remember clearly the day in my childhood that my mother told me about your parents. What a brilliant employment for their memory!

Thank you Robert, for turning lead into gold.

Robert et al:

We were spending the summer in NYC. My father was researching the history of the Progressive Party (Gideon's Army is the title of the 3 volume history).

It was the first memorable public day of my life, the day your parents were so unjustly executed by the United States. Those of my generation (I am 69) will never forget the day Kennedy was assassinated, and maybe the day Martin Luther King was likewise, and, of course 9/11/01. But, for me, the most memorable (infamous) day for me was the day your parents were killed.

I will never forget the headlines nor the sadness and outrage of my parents.

I can only imagine what it was like for you and your brother.

Your parents would have been so proud of you both, and now their granddaughter. I have been a very modest contributor to your cause, but I shall do better!!

I trust news of your work will be noted in the regular newsletters.

Priscilla Ruth MacDougall

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