Daughter Honors Parents with Sixty-Nine Roses Foundation

When Joyce Rosen-Friedman’s parents got married in 1941, her father gave her mother a single   rose. “Every single year after that, he added a rose,” Joyce says, recalling how after decades of marriage Sol Rosen’s anniversary offerings filled the family home in Highland Park, Ill., with vases of red roses. “They were so romantic,” she recalls, noting that to this day she has the dried petals from that first flower. 

After her parents died in 2010, Joyce inherited a charitable fund established by her parents as a way for her to continue the family tradition of philanthropy. Joyce, who lives in Newton, moved her assets from Chicago to Boston.


“My parents were extremely generous, and they donated to many different cultural organizations, Jewish, and political causes,” Joyce says, noting that she chose a Donor Advised Fund at the Boston Foundation because “it was a local organization where I could receive help identifying nonprofits to which I could donate. What I liked best was that I wasn’t going to be flailing around in a sea of immense possibilities.” She named the fund the Sixty-Nine Roses Charitable Foundation in honor of her parents’ 69-year marriage.

Sol Rosen started his working life painting signs in the Chicago grocery stores owned by his Polish-Jewish father, and, in 1933, began peddling fabrics for a New York-based supplier of materials for theatrical costumes and sets. In 1949, just as televisions were coming into widespread use, he and his brother started a business selling textiles to cover the speakers in TVs and phonographs. In the mid-1960s, with stereo technology booming, he founded the Solar Textiles Co., which manufactured the fabric that covered audio speakers. 

Living on the “inside”

“My father worked hard, was lucky, and became quite wealthy,” says Joyce, a musician, hospital clown and former acupuncturist. “He always gave us the message that once you have what you need, it’s essential to give, to be as generous as you can. He had no interest in accumulating wealth for its own sake, and he would often say that he and my mother lived on the inside, not the outside.”

True to that philosophy, Sol and Carolyn Rosen spent their married life sending money back to extended family in Russia, helping relatives to get an education, and funding a number of charitable organizations. “My mother grew up on the West Side of Chicago where all the Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe came to live, and there was a recreation center in the middle of the neighborhood that was extremely important in her childhood,” Joyce remembers. As Jews left the neighborhood, it become primarily African-American and remained poor. So the Rosens established a children’s library at that same Rec Center through an organization called Family Focus. After Carolyn’s mother had a stroke in 1958 and was successfully treated at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the Rosens, in gratitude, established the annual Sarah Baskin Award for Excellence in Research there.

In the 1970s, when Carolyn Rosen had a cancer scare, Joyce said her father “was so happy that she was alive and well he purchased a Moroccan Torah to give to my Jewish community, B’nai Or of Boston, in gratitude for the fact that his wife was okay.”

Honoring parents

When Joyce opened her Donor Advised Fund, she wanted to do something with the money that honored her parents. Because her mother was a great music lover, she has made grants to music-related causes, including supporting a music teacher at the West End Boys and Girls Club. In honor of her father, a vigorous man who suffered much pain and debility during his last six months of life, she investigated the possibility of funding the delivery of complementary and alternative medical services to homebound patients. But when that proved unfeasible, her donor services liaison, Dan Sherman, helped her look into the needs of organizations that served elders. “I love that he discovered a perfect fit at Hebrew Senior Life,” she says.

Joyce provided seed funding for the organization to establish its trademark wellness and empowerment program, Vitalize 360, at the only one of its five senior housing communities that didn’t have it. Thanks to the Sixty-Nine Roses Charitable Foundation, the Simon C. Fireman Community in Randolph was able to launch the program this year. By years’ end, it hopes almost half of the 170 residents will be participating.

“It really, to me, felt like such a beautiful match and I could tell that Joyce was so determined to give these dollars to a cause that she really thought would be meaningful to her parents,” said Aline Russotto, who created the Vitalize 360 program for Hebrew Senior Life. “We are so grateful for Joyce’s energy and passion. Her drive to make the world a better place is incredible and we are very thankful she selected the Fireman Community to receive her gift.”