October 1, 1928 - January 24, 2023
A memorial service is planned in the springtime in Santa Cruz for Natalie Miriam Greenberg, who passed away in Santa Cruz at the age of 94.
Natalie was born in New York City to Isaac and Betty Lattimer Sherman. Ike’s parents were immigrants from Russia, while Betty’s family had been dairy farmers in the Catskills of the colony of New York since pre-Revolutionary times. A child of the depression, Natalie enjoyed the city, where she took the subway to Saturday movies for a nickel. Later she attended the shows of an up and coming singer, Frank Sinatra, at the Paramount theater. Natalie was a bright student who skipped two grades to graduate high school at age sixteen. She was poised, statuesque, and attractive and was eager to get a job and earn a salary. Her first job was with an exclusive furrier. One Saturday, when the store was closed, Natalie was called in to model sable coats for a very famous customer, Greta Garbo; her boss didn’t trust his regular models to be discreet but could count on Natalie for her beauty and maturity. Natalie met her future husband, Al Greenberg, at Orchard Beach in the Bronx. Al joined the Army Air Corps, and they were married in November, 1945. Natalie and Al had three children, Rosalind, born in 1947, Alan, born in 1949, and Lewis, born in 1955. They lived in Astoria, Queens, until they bought a two-family house in Freeport on Long Island, where Natalie raised the children while Al worked long hours on two separate jobs. They also had a slipcover store, Al having been a master slipcover cutter in the Bronx. Natalie prided herself on cooking multiple meals at different times for her family, as well as taking care of her dogs, Poochie and Benjy, gardening, and sewing. She always kept a few cooked chickens in her freezer so that she would quickly be able to feed friends and family who unexpectedly dropped in for a meal of roast chicken, refried spaghetti, salad, “good bread”, and Entemann’s crumb coffee cake. Natalie always considered herself fortunate to have these “very wonderful years raising my family”.
Besides her role as a wife and mother in the 1960s, Natalie worked for Fortunoff’s Department store and then as an administrator at a local bank; she was on track to becoming a vice president, had they not moved to southern California, where Al had a new job in the FAA. Natalie was very supportive and proud of the accomplishments of her children. Roz and Lewis were internal medicine physicians, and Alan, who played trumpet and was drum major in school, was music teacher and head of the Music Department at Goshen High School. When Rosalind and her husband Michael were interns and residents working night and day at UCLA Hospital in the late 1970s, Natalie practically raised their young daughter Anna as if she were her own, while at the same time holding down a full time job in the FAA and taking care of her mother, Betty, as well as her German Shepherd, Benjy, and a Courgie named Minnie. Natalie was very talented at art and crafts, and she loved making miniature rooms, such as a general store, music room, and a clothing boutique. Natalie and Al moved to Chicago for a few years for new jobs in the mid-1980’s. Natalie didn’t mind moving back to a cold climate and enjoyed her house there. Natalie subsequently started working for the US Forest Service in San Francisco after Al was promoted as FAA supervisor of maintenance for the SFO hub of United Airlines. Natalie and Al lived in Pacifica and San Francisco until they remodeled their house in Rio del Mar and retired there with their cat, Petey, in 1993. In summer of 1993 Natalie joined daughter Roz and granddaughter Anna for a tour of Italy and Southern France. According to Natalie, this was a great trip that brought back many happy memories of their zany adventures. Later that year, however, her beloved son Alan Greenberg died from cancer, and although Natalie maintained her spirit, she never completely recovered from that loss. It consoled her to know that she would be buried in the same cemetery next to Alan and Al.
In 2008 Natalie moved to an elegant condo in San Antonio to be near son Lewis and his growing family. She enjoyed driving around San Antonio, shopping, and attending San Antonio Spurs basketball games and concerts. Natalie made a trip to New York City along with Roz, Lewis, and daughter-in-law Laurie. She ate at Sardi’s, took a horse-drawn carriage ride around Central Park, went to Katz’s deli in the lower East Side, and took an epic ride on the Staten Island Ferry. In 2018 Lewis and Laurie organized a big celebration for Natalie’s 90th birthday at a ranch in the Hill Country of Texas, attended by 4 generations of the family.
Albert Greenberg died in 2019 after a stroke, and Natalie’s health deteriorated too. She moved back to Santa Cruz in July of 2022 and enjoyed visits from her grandchildren and great grandchildren, as well as her 94th birthday party, breakfast at IHOP, Thanksgiving dinner, and a Hanukkah party.
Natalie had a very direct way to confront adversity. Her adoring father Isaac had survived through the Great Depression and taught her toughness. Natalie displayed little tolerance for deception and phoniness. She also liked to talk and tell stories and laugh at life’s ironies. When asked for advice, she always gave her forthright opinion. Natalie put the needs of her children and her grandchildren ahead of her own. Natalie often counseled to “stop knocking yourself out-put your feet up when you can”, “appreciate what you have”, “call me the minute you get home”, “do what you want to do”, and “put on some lipstick”. She was a unique person and will be sorely missed by her family and her friends. In the words of one of her grandchildren, Natalie was “the most loving, generous, hilarious, beautiful(inside and out), kind-hearted, tolerant, candid, sensitive, curious, affectionate..the list goes on and on and could not possibly describe what a special person you are and how glad I am to have you in my life”!
Natalie left a note. She wrote: “I can now, as the last one to be buried with my husband and son, feel so blessed. Now that we have spent so much time grieving for Alan, we can hopefully find peace. We had wonderful lives for so many years and wish that my family and friends can realize the same blessing we had together and not feel sad” - Natalie
Natalie is survived by her daughter and son-in-law, Drs. Rosalind and Michael Shorenstein of La Selva Beach, CA, and her son and daughter-in-law Drs. Lewis and Laurie Greenberg of Houston, TX. She also leaves her beloved grandchildren Anna, Claire, Matthew, Daniel, Rebecca, and Brian and great-grandchildren Elisia, Dylan, Arielle, Isla, Olivia, Alan, June, and Caroline.
Natalie was preceded in death by her son, Alan Greenberg in 1993, her husband Al Greenberg in 2019, and her brother, Joe Sherman.
Natalie will be laid to rest at Home of Peace Cemetery in Santa Cruz beside her son and husband. Kind acts of charity in her memory may be made to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital or the Simon Wiesenthal Center.