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Roma Barnes


Mar. 15, 1930 - Dec. 16, 2020


Roma was born in Demblin, Poland to Benjamin and Chaya (Szajnzicht) Rosenman. She lost her parents and brother Sevek during a round-up of Jews in the town square on May 6, 1942. She survived the war in slave-labor camps. She was liberated by the Russians Jan. 16, 1945, in Czestochowa, Poland. Roma, together with her two cousins, made their way to Theresienstadt, Czechoslovakia, to join a group of 300 orphaned Jewish children who had survived the Holocaust and had been given permission to enter the U.K. They were flown in Lancaster bombers from Prague to Windermere, Scotland on August 15, 1945.


Roma lived in Manchester, where she received an education and vocational training as a governess and stenographer. The group of orphaned children became family to each other and formed the '45 Aid Society in the U.K., which continues to be a vibrant organization.


In London attending a popular dance hall, she met an American soldier, serving in the Air Force, Burt Barnes, who was smitten with her beauty and spunk. They married in 1953 in London. Burt agreed to Roma's one request, that their children be raised Jewish. Though the marriage ended after 20 years, Roma was able to look past the parental divide to ensure that the family union carried forward, as the mishpucha (family) was everything.


Roma was very proud to be a Jew and an American and she loved Israel. She was a member of Congregation Kol Shofar for over 45 years and made many lifelong friends at the shul, including taking care of children in her later years as a nanny for several Jewish families.


Roma will be remembered as a friendly, open, caring person, whose smile lit up the room. Above all else, Roma was a devoted mother and grandmother. She loved entertaining her grandchildren at her home in Tiburon, where she lived for 45 years. Her interests were gardening, cooking, walking, reading, sewing, and traveling. Her care of her youngest son, Mark, who had Down syndrome, taught all her children the importance of giving by example. For 44 years, she was involved in Cedars of Marin, the organization that also looked after Mark's well being until he passed in 2011.


After Roma's stroke in 2006 until 2020, her devoted caregiver Vivian became like another daughter to her, and a member of the whole family. As a result of advancing dementia, Roma moved to the Jewish Home in San Francisco in 2016, where she was loved and cared for with respect and dignity, and where she died.


Roma is survived by her children Ben Barnes, Helen Schwartz and Stephanie Barnes-Castro; and her grandchildren, Valeri Schwartz, Camille, Elena, and Rachael Castro, and Raquel Barnes. She is preceded in death by her beloved son Mark and her treasured grandson Thomas Barnes. She will be greatly missed by all who knew her.


Private graveside services were held at Mt. Tamalpais Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, please donate to the San Francisco Campus for Jewish Living, 302 Silver Ave., San Francisco, CA 94112; Congregation Kol Shofar, 215 Blackfield Drive, Tiburon, CA 94920; or a charity of your choice.

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