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Dallas local politician Rose Renfroe, 81, buried as a Jew

The former city councilwoman born to Jewish parents had married a Catholic man but continued to regard herself as Jewish, unbeknown to many.

Rose Renfroe
Rose Renfroe. Credit: LinkedIn.

During her years in the Dallas Democratic Party political scene, few people apparently knew that Rose Renfroe was Jewish.

The 81-year-old was buried in a Jewish cemetery as part of a Jewish ceremony on June 30. Hannah Lebovits of the Dallas Chevra Kadisha (Jewish “burial society”) said Renfroe “was forgotten as a Jew for the majority of her life,” according to an article in The Forward.

Renfroe, a graduate of Dallas Baptist College, had risen to local prominence beginning in 1975 when she defeated an incumbent Dallas City Council member on an anti-busing platform.

She ran for the Dallas County Commission in 2002 and 2006, using the name “Rosita Renfroe,” which some political observers suspected was to appeal to Latino voters who might regard her as Catholic, her husband’s faith. She said “Rosita” was the name her husband called her.

“The election of Rose Renfroe, then, cannot be discarded as an isolated uprising, despite what the Oak Cliff establishment would have us believe,” read a July 1, 1975 profile of Renfroe in Dallas-based D Magazine. “She, or at least the political and social sensibility she represents, is here to stay. Rose Renfroe would be the first to tell you that, although she’d say it somewhat sheepishly. She does not like to be fussed over.”

While originally planned to be buried next to her husband in a non-Jewish cemetery, Renfroe’s Jewish daughter, 64-year-old Rena Renfroe, said that her mother had wanted a Jewish burial in a Jewish cemetery, which she successfully organized at Tiferet Israel-Agudas Achim Cemetery in Dallas. 

According to The Forward, the younger Renfroe said that her mother always sought “to do something to help people” and that “no matter the religion, no matter the color, no matter what, my mom had an open door policy to anybody and everybody.”

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