Sheldon Rootenberg

Sheldon F. Rootenberg

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Obituary of Sheldon F. Rootenberg

Sheldon F. Rootenberg of Moraga, California passed away on April 9, 2023 in Denver, Colorado. Shel was born in Chicago to Abe and Flora Rootenberg on October 19, 1937. He went to Fairfax High School in Los Angeles and graduated in 1955. He went on to earn a Master of Arts in Anthropology from UCLA and documented indigenous culture for a previously unexplored portion of the island of Margarita. He worked in the field of Human Resources, pursued several entrepreneurial ventures and enjoyed a second career as a paralegal.


Shel loved listening to a wide range of music, from classical to pop and rock to jazz, and he also enjoyed singing in the car. He was a connoisseur of Formula One and antique cars and planes and the proud owner of a yellow 1929 Ford Speedster. He appreciated graphic design and architecture, collaborating with a noted architect to design the family home, where he also was dedicated to cultivating native plants. (Occasionally, a few acorns would hibernate in the refrigerator to improve their chances of germination in the spring.)


Shel’s sense of humor was inspired by Soupy Sales and Laurel and Hardy. His childhood friends knew him as a practical joker, while grownups probably didn’t quite appreciate the ketchup in the payphone coin return slot, or confirming for a young caller that the pharmacy did have Prince Albert in a can – only to be told, “Well, let him out!” As an adult, he loved to tease children and grownups alike, introducing himself to a society columnist as “Israel Katz,” or making reservations under the name “Spyder.”


Shel was passionate about the role of health and nutrition in longevity. He focused on extensive research to instill in his family an appreciation for the latest science in diet and supplements. He also enjoyed a good affogato or toasted almond ice cream after dinner.


His family remembers Shel for his encouragement of their artistic inclinations and his photographic talents, the bed frames and bookcases he built, and his colorful fashion sense. He gave sound financial and career advice, and his children inherited his determination and persistence. The family cats appreciated a lap to perch on while Shel read the newspaper, and while he appeared to tolerate them, he loved them dearly.


Shel is survived by his wife, Gerie, his sister-in-law, Brenda, and his children Robin (Randall) and Scott. He is preceded in death by his father, Abe; his mother, Flora; and his brother, Leon.


Memorial donations may be made to the Michael J. Fox Foundation. The family wishes to extend their gratitude to Jerry Miller, Shel’s beloved friend since childhood.