February 13, 1947 – June 25, 2022
Fresno, California – Roberta “Robbi” Barash Alexander born February 13, 1947 in Brooklyn, New York to Meyer and Sylvia Barash whom she lost before the age of 21. Roberta’s youth was filled with exciting adventures including appearances as a dancer on the Murray the Kay Sock Hop, volunteering for the televised Jerry Lewis Telethon, travels to Turkey, Greece, and Israel.
Roberta finished her nursing degrees in New York and Texas where she met her beloved husband Dr. Gerard Alexander. She said the best part of her life began when she met the Texan with the cowboy boots who she thought at first was from another planet. They traveled throughout the United States on a government health study and spent a year on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota where she taught kindergarten at a Bureau of Indian Affairs school. She moved to Fresno with her husband in 1973 in order for him to begin his maxillofacial surgery training.
Roberta was the author of “In and Around Fresno” and hosted the KVPR radio show “In and Around Fresno” with Roberta Barash Alexander. She co-authored “Peace and Conflict Resolution” and along with her daughter Michelle, authored “Peaceful Thoughts”. She freelanced for a variety of newspapers and volunteered for numerous organizations. She joked about sometimes being paid in vegetable and fruits depending on how good or bad the article was, determined if they were ripe or rotten. She was a member of Temple Beth Israel, Hadassah and Sisterhood.
She began her business, Peace Works, Educational in 1987 and with the help and dedication of Rosa Ramos the company grew into a world-wide source for educational materials selling these materials to over 130 countries as well as becoming the go to resource for much of Fresno Unified and Fresno County Schools.
Her deep passion for travel enabled her to visit many countries around the world. She lived in France and Switzerland over many summers. Her self-deprecating humor that her spoken French was abysmal but she could write it out if need be. Her favorite vacation spot was in St. Lucia, West Indies where she would spend a month with her family and friends who became family.
Volunteering was an activity that brought much joy. One of which was reading to school children and seeing their faces light up when they recognized a story or anticipated what was coming next. Her deep commitment to improving the world for children was demonstrated by her continued donations to schools in Fresno as well as in developing nations. She felt strongly that the better educated the children were, the better for the world. Most of her donations were made anonymously, as she never wanted the kudos.
Roberta was the “go to” person when you needed something done, she could often get airlines, stores, religious groups, corporations and even school boards to come to her way of thinking. Always a calming presence in times of crisis, her friends relied on her ability to get the job done. She was the epitome of the word “connector.” She was known as strong-willed, though she liked the word tenacious” as a better description. You always knew where you stood with Roberta, yet she was always fair, taking the time to look at all sides of an issue, evaluating the information , and then making her own decision. Her mantra was, “You have to be who you are at your core without apologies or pretenses.” Beyond generous, kind and yes tenacious was who she was. Roberta often said that she’d love to be a good joke teller though she never mastered that skill. However she laughed and laughed at a good joke, risqué or not. She was a fantastic cook, (love to cook, hate clean you’d often hear her say), an incredible entertainer with amazing table settings and mouthwatering spreads of food, an avid reader, an awesome boggle player and an amazing mother, wife, grandmother and friend.
She leaves behind many lifelong friends, her cherished husband of over 50 years, Gerald, son Gregg and wife Felicia of Pacific Palisades, California, daughter Michelle Kolev and husband Kostadin of Stamford, CT along with the joys of her life her grandchildren Gavin Alexander, Gabriella, Audrey and Alex Kolev. Brother Howard Barash of New York and brother Stuart Barash of New Orleans. Her Aunt Phyllis Esterow of Ft. Lee New Jersey and Del Rey Beach, Fl who became a surrogate parent to her when her own parents died. To them she will always be indebted.
Remembrances may be sent to the Southern Poverty Law Center, Temple Beth Israel, or a charity of your choice.
Published by Fresno Bee on Jun. 29, 2022.
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