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Rose Mellman Daitsman

Rose Daitsman, a pioneering educator and human rights activist, passed away last week in Milwaukee. Described as a “force of nature,” Ms. Daitsman’s indefatigable energy and strong sense of justice and equity led her to advocate for, and create, social change in an array of fields throughout her long and accomplished life.

Arriving in Milwaukee in 1972 with a background in Engineering (BE, Cooper Union, 1949) and Education (MA, Xavier University, 1966), Ms. Daitsman earned a position at the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee. She quickly realized the dearth of minority students in the school and set out to change it. University administrators soon approved a pre-college program, the Gateway to Engineering, Science, and Technology, which recruited minority students from high schools in Milwaukee to learn about the field in weekend and summer programs. As a result of the program, the College experienced a 20% increase in minority admissions. She led the program until her retirement from the university in the 1990s.

A committed anti war activist, Ms. Daitsman protested against the possible use of nuclear weapons in the Korean Conflict. Later, during the Vietnam War, she was selected to serve on a citizens’ delegation to the Paris Peace Talks in an effort to jump start the stalled negotiations between the United States and North Vietnam. Throughout her life, she continued to work with the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom on the many causes that organization has championed.

Ms. Daitsman was a founding member of the Society of Women Engineers, an international organization that today celebrates its seventieth year and has over 40,000 members, and she worked through the 1950s in private industry. She took an early interest in pollution control and proposed air quality regulations as early as 1960. She was an active member of the American Society for Engineering Education and would travel to annual conferences sharing her knowledge and expertise with colleagues from around the country.

Over the course of her long life, she has received many awards and honors, including the Frank P. Zeidler Public Service Award by the City of Milwaukee in 2016 and West End Mother of the Year in 1966 for her community work with children in the inner city of Cincinnati.

Among her many activities in Milwaukee, in 2006 Ms. Daitsman founded the Greater Milwaukee Human Rights Campaign, a coalition of 10 organizations which produced a report on the severe racial discrimination in Milwaukee that was subsequently submitted to the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination. This work contributed to the resurrection of Milwaukee’ Equal Rights Commission in 2009.

Ms. Daitsman is survived by her daughter Judith, sons William and Andrew, and grandchildren Linda, Jeffrey, and Samuel. A memorial service will be held in Milwaukee in October. Donations in her memory can be addressed to Doctors Without Borders, the Daitsman Scholarship Fund of the Wisconsin Labor History Society, or Circle Pines Center in Delton, MI.

A celebration of life will be held for Ms. Daitsman on Saturday, November 9, at the Chapel of the Zelazo Center, Peck School of the Arts at UWM, 2419 E. Kenwood Blvd., Milwaukee. The memorial ceremony will begin at 1:30 PM, with friends recalling her remarkable life of activism and musical selections from folk musician Lil’ Rev and the Raging Grannies.

Goodman-Bensman Whitefish Bay Funeral Home
4750 North Santa Monica Boulevard (414) 964-3111

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  1. Renee LaDuke 11/07/2019 11:06 am

    I remember Rose from her involvement with the Society of Woman Engineers. I was glad to have her acquaintance in my life journey. A wonderful soul.

  2. Kathleen Hume 11/08/2019 10:17 am

    I worked with Rose during the 1970’s and was inspired by her. I went on to law school and received my JD at age 45. According to Mrs Daitsman nothing was impossible if you wanted it enough.

    She truly was a force of nature with a gentle voice.

    Kathleen Hume,Esq.

  3. Agnes V. Williams 11/08/2019 11:39 am

    Our family is sad to hear the news of Mrs. Daitsman’s transition. Mrs. Daitsman mentored and encouraged our daughter, Dr. Aronica V. Williams, from the time Aronica entered her UWM pre-college engineering program until she completed Medical School.

  4. Frank E. Campenni 11/09/2019 2:09 am

    I first knew her as my friend Andy’s mother. Then as a pleasant and always on the go neighbor. And finally as a fellow UWM employee, full of energy and good thoughts and always a delight to run into and compare notes, personal and political. Such as her there should be more of, and while her time here was full, she will be missed as gone too soon. But like her, carry on, carry on.


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