Gabriela "Gaby" Rosenberg, an interior designer who survived World War II as a Jew in Europe, died of cancer Nov. 16 at Gilchrist Hospice Care. She was 71 and lived in Pikesville.
She was born Gabriela Goldmann in Katowice, Poland, in 1939, shortly before the German army invaded the country.
"Her mother, grandmother, aunt and cousin saw what was on the horizon. With their blonde hair, blue eyes and German background, they were able to obtain false papers as German Catholics," Cantor Nancy Ginsberg said in a eulogy.
Family members said her family spent the duration of the war outside the Warsaw ghetto. Her father, however, was separated. He initially escaped a German concentration camp and was captured by the Russians, who sent him to Siberia. They were reunited after the war.
They moved to a village outside Munich, Germany, and lived in a displaced-persons camp. They debated staying in Germany or moving to Israel, but her mother had a sister living in Baltimore who would sponsor them. The family sailed on the General S.D. Sturgis and arrived in Baltimore in January 1951.
She lived with her family on Callow Avenue in Reservoir Hill. She was then 11 years old and quickly learned English.
"She was good at languages because she started life speaking Polish, then German, then English," said her brother, Peter Goldmann of Pikesville. "She always knew what to do. She could look at a situation, figure it out and deal with it."
She lost only one year in her academic progression and graduated from Forest Park High School in 1958. Although she won a scholarship to the Maryland Institute College of Art, she wanted to become a fashion designer and went to work.
At age 20, Mrs. Rosenberg became an assistant lingerie buyer at the old May Co. on Howard Street. She later had a side business, Inventory Control Inc., visiting other stores to stock and count inventories. She also made coverings for wastepaper baskets and tissue boxes.
Family members said that on Yom Kippur 1955 she met her future husband, Paul Rosenberg, who was standing on the steps of Chizuk Amuno Congregation on Eutaw Place. They dated for several years and on New Year's Eve 1958, he proposed marriage to her at the Towne Theater on Fayette Street.
While her children were young, she began arranging silk flowers for local decorators.
"All her customers kept asking her for decorating advice," her brother said. "It came to the point where she went out on her own and became a decorator. Her customers came first. It had to done right. She could be brutally honest."
Her brother said her clients relied upon her aesthetic judgments. "She was honest and she could sell. Her taste was understated and contemporary," he said.
Mrs. Rosenberg did not like to fly and preferred to travel on trips by auto and cruise ship.
Services were Nov. 19 at Sol Levinson and Bros.
In addition to her brother, survivors include her husband of 52 years, Paul M. Rosenberg, a retired U.S. magistrate judge for Maryland; a son, Howard Rosenberg of Pikesville; a daughter, Michelle Ressin of Baltimore; and three grandchildren.