Geraldine Davis Rifkin, a 50-year resident of Davis, passed away peacefully on Dec. 8 with her three children at her side. She was 93 years old. Gerry was buried Dec. 11 at the Davis Cemetery, with Rabbi Greg Wolfe officiating. She received full military honors.
Gerry was born on March 4, 1922 in Los Angeles. Soon after her birth, her family moved to San Francisco, where she, her older sister, Rose, and her younger brother, Fred, were raised.
Her mother, Bertha Weber Davis, a Romanian immigrant, had to work full-time, because Gerry's father, Benjamin Davis, a Polish immigrant and U.S. Army veteran, had lingering injuries suffered in WWI.
As a result, Gerry's parents placed their three small children in Homewood Terrace, a Jewish orphanage, in San Francisco. The kids often stayed at their parents' home on weekends. In many respects Gerry had a privileged and highly cultured childhood at Homewood, which was funded privately by the San Francisco Jewish community.
Gerry was a good athlete and exceptionally bright. As a teen she won a prestigious tennis tournament for girls across San Francisco. She did well in school and graduated from Balboa High School one year early in 1939. At age 17, she moved back home with her parents and began taking classes at San Francisco State.
She then enrolled in a registered nursing program at Mt. Zion Hospital in San Francisco. In 1942, Gerry became an R.N.
Following her siblings, Gerry volunteered for service in World War II. She was enlisted as a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army in 1944. She spent the War at Fort Lewis, Washington, where she nursed newborn babies. She was there until her honorable discharge as a 1st Lieut. in 1946.
Gerry returned to San Francisco after WWII and worked as a public health nurse. Using the GI Bill, she later attended UC Berkeley and earned her bachelor's degree in nursing in 1951.
She met Stuart David Rifkin in San Francisco and they were married on Feb. 22, 1953. Due to fertility issues, Gerry and Stu adopted their newborn son, Barry, in 1956, and then their newborn daughter, Carol, in 1958.
Surprisingly, Gerry became pregnant at age 41 and gave birth to their second son, Richard, two days before she turned 42 in 1964.
The Rifkins moved to Davis in 1965, where Stuart worked as the general manager of Davis Lumber and Hardware. As a couple, Gerry and Stu made a lot of friends in Davis, including couples they knew through bridge, Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce. Sadly, Stuart suffered a fatal heart attack at age 52 in 1971.
After her husband's death, Gerry transitioned from a housewife to her family's sole provider. She first worked as an R.N. at two convalescent hospitals in Davis and then took a job with Yolo County, where she worked in Broderick as a public health nurse until she retired at age 69. At her retirement, as happened throughout her life, her colleagues described Gerry as the nicest and sweetest nurse they had ever met. She was born to care for others.
Gerry enjoyed reading, solving puzzles, playing cards, especially contract bridge, and keeping up with her friends and family. She was diligent in sending birthday cards and holiday greetings to everyone, including distant relatives.
In her retirement, Gerry kept busy. She loved to go on long walks. She participated in Jazzercise three days every week. She followed politics. And she volunteered with Senior Peer Counseling, where she befriended and counseled elderly Yolo County residents who were homebound or lonely.
When her memory began to fade due to dementia, she lived with her son, Rich, who took on the responsibility of being her primary caregiver for the rest of her life, as Alzheimer's progressed.
According to Rich, Gerry's last 10 years were still meaningful. She enjoyed their daily walks with his dog, Truman. She smiled at everyone who passed, and they smiled back at her friendly face. She lit up in the presence of children and enjoyed flowers in bloom. Gerry loved a good cup of coffee with lots of milk and a little sugar, and even after Alzheimer's took away her words, she still liked to laugh.
Every week, Rich took her to her hairdresser, where she was lovingly treated by the ladies of Creative Hair.
Gerry had many wonderful friends in Davis. She was particularly lucky to have the nicest neighbors anyone could ask for, including John and Cathy Keller and Walt and Ina Green.
In addition to her three children, Gerry is survived by her daughter-in-law, Magaly, two grandchildren, Melody and Justin, six great-grandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. All of her family loved Gerry dearly, and knew her as the kindest and sweetest person in the world.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests a donation be made in Gerry's name to the Alzheimer's Association.