IF, AMONG ALL WHO have come to adopt Greater Washington as their "permanent" home town, there can be accorded a distinguished status of True Almost-Native Washingtonian, we would include Albert A. Rosenfield, who died Tuesday at the age of 71--and whose relationship with this community was one of old-fashioned, unabashed devotion. Businessman, public servant and tireless supporter of the D.C. public school system, Abe Rosenfield earned the affection and respect even of those who shared few if any of his partisan political views.
Certainly he did not fit any mold of most successful elected officeholders in the District, or even Ward 3, where this Republican businessman wound up winning election to the D.C. school board on which he had first served as an appointed member. Before that, Mr. Rosenfield--born in Argentina, brought to this country at an early age, founder of the Woodley Supermarket and later of Woodley Wine and Liquor-- was active with the neighborhood businessmen's association and Adas Israel Congregation.
Then, in the midst of the early chaotic days of the school board (as opposed to the later chaotic days), Mr. Rosenfield converted his neighborhood reputation for customer service into one of responsive constituent service and won a seat on the first board.
As a board member, Mr. Rosenfield worked hard to try to smooth over terrible splits between factions; was a strong advocate of the "Six Schools" project to boost dwindling enrollment in the six Northwest schools; boosted athletics as an antidote to dropping out and responded each year to more than 1,000 calls from parents, teachers, students, principals, residents and fellow board members.
To have maintained a sense of humor, a warm attachment to his community and the enthusiasm to hear people out and respond fairly was no small achievement through all those terribly turbulent years. But Abe Rosenfield did, which is why so many of us, his fellow Washingtonians, will remember him with fondness.