Renee Barbara Pines Luberoff, who grew up in the Great Depression, married a soldier during World War II, was a teacher in New York and New Jersey, raised a tight-knit family, and had an active retirement in New Jersey, California, New Zealand, and North Carolina, died on March 30, 2019 in Chapel Hill, North Carolina at the age of 93. She was mentally robust, strong-willed, and astute her entire life. She lived cheerfully, contentedly, and unpretentiously, thoroughly without judgement of other people.
Born in New York City on October 18, 1925, Renee was the oldest of three daughters. After moving several times during her childhood, her extended family settled in an apartment in the Bronx that not only housed her parents and sisters but also her grandparents and an aunt. A strong student and talented pianist, she attended Hunter College High School and Hunter College. She also gave piano lessons in her family’s apartment, sold war bonds at the Roxy Theater in Times Square, and was a USO junior hostess at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan.
In August 1944, she married Benjamin Luberoff, a soldier from Philadelphia whom she had met at a New Year’s Eve party seven months earlier. After his return from Europe at the end of World War II, Ben and Renee lived with her family in the Bronx while both finished college. Renee graduated from Hunter College in 1946, went on to get her Master’s in Education, and completed all the coursework for a PhD, from the City College of New York. She worked as an elementary school teacher in New York City until the birth of her son Neil in 1952. She had two more children: Nancy (1953) and David (1957). Renee, Ben, and their growing family lived in the Bronx; Queens; Stamford, CT; and Monsey, NY before moving in 1963 to Summit, NJ where Renee lived until 2002.
In 1964, after David started elementary school, Renee returned to teaching at Summit’s Jefferson School, where she taught until her retirement in 1985 at the age of 60. In 2002, a year after her husband Ben died, she moved to Fearrington Village near Chapel Hill where she and Ben had bought a house in 1997. In 2012, she moved to Carolina Meadows, where she lived independently until her death.
Renee was a lively storyteller with a legendary memory for family history as well as an encyclopedic knowledge of back routes to locations around the country, including a host of good roadside diners. She was an inveterate bargain hunter who loved going to garage sales and finding discounted items in stores. In addition, she was a voracious reader who loved to travel, and who also happily spent many summers at her beloved cottage on Lake Owassa in northwest New Jersey as well as winters in both California and New Zealand where she lived near her daughter Nancy’s family.
In retirement, Renee took up needlepoint and took courses on a host of subjects. She was an active volunteer throughout her retirement, serving as a court-appointed child advocate in California, New Jersey, and North Carolina; as a volunteer docent at UNC’s Ackland Art Museum; as a teacher with the Arthritis Foundation; and as a board member at the Chapel Hill Kehillah Synagogue. In addition, she was an active member of Fearrington Cares, the Bulls and Bears Investment Club, Fearrington’s “Barbara” club, and the planning committee for Carolina Meadows University.
Renee was especially devoted to her seven grandchildren and nurtured in them a love of chocolate and ice cream. She also was overjoyed to meet her two great-grandchildren, both born within the past eight months.
Though her mind remained sharp until her death, as she become physically frail, she curtailed her many activities. Thanks to extraordinary care provided by aides from Aegis Home Care as well as by Dr. James Kurz, she was able to remain in her unit at Carolina Meadows, where she continued to take pleasure in simple joys, such as sitting and reading outside in the sun, drinking milkshakes, and enjoying visits and meals with her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
Renee is survived by her daughter Nancy Luberoff (Chapel Hill, NC) and her husband Bruce Boehm; by her son David Luberoff (Lexington, MA) and his wife Jody Tannenbaum; by her daughter-in-law Robin (Sunderland, MA), who was married to Renee’s late son Neil; and by her sister Eileen Vein (Plainview, NY). She also is survived by her seven grandchildren—Elana Boehm and her husband Charles Upton; Tova Boehm and her husband Carlos Carpinteyro; Jacob Boehm; Anna Luberoff; Becca Luberoff; Jesse Luberoff; and Eli Luberoff—and by her two great-grandchildren, Elijah Upton and Dahlia Boehm, as well as six nieces and nephews. She was pre-deceased by her husband, Ben (2001), her son, Neil (1987), and her sister Millie (1997).
Funeral services were held in Carrboro, NC on Sunday, March 31, 2019. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in her memory to the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, the Ben Luberoff Memorial Library at the Chapel Hill Kehillah, or to a charity of your choice.