The San Jose community lost a beloved activist on September 2, when Roz Dean joined other peace ancestors like her husband Al Traugott, her dear friend Joan Bazar and Joan’s husband Dave Wald.
Roz’s early years and her activism to save the San Jose Medical Center (downtown hospital) were documented in an excellent article in the Metro newspaper in 2005.
Other highlights of Roz’s human rights work include her travels to Nicaragua and Cuba and her active role in the Paul Robeson Committee helping to celebrate the centennial of his birth and promoting and supporting his legacy.
At the Peace & Justice Center, we are very grateful for her years serving as Secretary of The Collins Foundation (our fiscal sponsor) and her leadership in making the Center accessible, overseeing the installation of a wheelchair lift.
County Supervisor Cindy Chavez read this tribute to Roz at the September 28 meeting of the Board of Supervisors:
Roz was born in Chicago to Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. She first came to Los Angeles, California where her brother and wife were living, and then moved to SF at age 19 while her future husband joined the army. They later moved back to Chicago to be near her mother-in-law and had two sons, Michael and Clifton.
In Chicago, Roz was involved with the PTA both as a parent and a teacher. She taught junior high, got a master’s in reading, and helped students who were having reading problems. She was very involved with civil rights: from housing, redlining, education, and issues relating to police brutality, harassment, and racism.
On March 17, 1976, Roz married Al Traugott and became stepmother to Sue and David Traugott. Roz and Al moved to San Jose in 1978. They were married for 26 years and were inseparable until Al passed away in 2002.
In 1979 Roz applied for a position as a drill press operator at FMC because it was a well-paid union job. During this time period, more and more women were applying for nontraditional jobs in male-dominated fields with higher pay and union benefits. Although she was qualified for the job, FMC rejected her, and the job remained open for months afterward. Instead, she was hired as a janitor and became active in the union. One day she received a letter asking her to participate in a gender discrimination class action against FMC. She joined enthusiastically and encouraged other women to step forward. The lawsuit ended with a significant settlement.
Roz and Al were lifelong peace and social justice activists and were found at almost all progressive events- programs, picket lines, meetings and usually tabling with a wide array of literature, t-shirts, bumper stickers, and buttons. They really did it all.
They helped start and lead the Labor Committee on El Salvador and Central America for 20 years- to support people’s movements and liberation struggles, stop US intervention, and for global solidarity. This later expanded to include economic and social justice issues. For many years the group hosted the San Francisco Mime Troupe to raise money for different causes-
Roz was always on picket lines in support of numerous strikes and boycotts including PATCO (Air Traffic Controllers Union), Greyhound drivers, Farmworkers, and Teachers
She was always a great friend to anyone who needed a helping hand or an ear to hear their concerns and a mentor to many as they became activists.
Roz was known for her tireless leadership with the Save San Jose Medical Center Coalition and the Coalition for a Downtown Hospital and was constantly before the San José City Council and the Board of Supervisors urging that a full-service hospital remains in downtown.
When a County Health Clinic was built on the site instead, Bob Brownstein asked if he had her permission to inquire about naming the clinic after Roz. She actually got really upset and the reason was that she didn’t think the clinic was enough and putting her name on it would be offensive. That’s something I loved about her, she wanted what was best for the people most in need.
Roz was at the opening ceremonies of the new clinic several years ago and looked on the celebration with a little degree of satisfaction, but still emphasized to me and others the need for a full-service hospital downtown.