Mother of US Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon dies at 91

AP News
Posted: Jun 20, 2011 8:16 PM
Mother of US Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon dies at 91

Edith R. Wyden, the mother of U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon, has died at age 91.

The senator said his mother, who fled Nazi Germany in 1936, died Sunday at a retirement community in Palo Alto, Calif.

Edith Wyden was born in Koenigsberg, Germany, to George and Else Rosenow. The Jewish family first went to Iraq after leaving Nazi Germany then emigrated to the United States in 1939.

In 1947, she married Peter Wyden, whose family also fled Nazi Germany. They divorced in 1959. Peter Wyden, an author and journalist, died in 1998.

Edith Wyden had a long career as an industrial economist, researcher and reference librarian. She published papers on economic and industrial development while working at Stanford Research Institute in Menlo Park, Calif.

"My mother was my role model," Sen. Wyden said.

Peter Wyden, who wrote books on the "Bay of Pigs" invasion of Cuba and the Berlin Wall, was known for the energy he put into researching his books. Sen. Wyden said while his mother was a quieter person than his father, she was just as good at research.

Edith Rosenow met Peter Wyden at a function for fellow Jews in New York City in 1944. Both joined the U.S. military. Peter served with the U.S. Army's Psychological Warfare Division, writing letters to Edith from a foxhole in France.

Edith was a member of the Women's Army Corps from April 1944 to May 1946, serving in England, France and Germany. While in Germany, she worked with a U.S. unit that was involved in planning the Allied occupation of the conquered country.

Sen. Wyden said his mother's memories of Nazi Germany had a lasting effect on her.

"She felt lucky, and her family were lucky, to get out," he said.

Wyden said his mother remembered hearing Germans dismiss Adolf Hitler as insignificant before he rose to power.

"She felt strongly about people not giving short shrift to obvious realities and problems," he said.

Edith Wyden earned a bachelor's degree in archaeology from the University of Rochester in 1941 and a Master's in Oriental Studies from Yale in 1943. She spoke fluent German, French and Spanish.

Wyden said his mother had a "quiet dignity" but was a "consummate achiever."

"She somehow managed to raise my brother Jeff," who suffered from schizophrenia for three decades, "worked full time and never missed one of my basketball games," he said.

She is survived by Sen. Wyden, by daughter-in-law Nancy Bass Wyden, and four grandchildren.

Jeff Wyden died in 2002. Four years earlier, his father published a book about Jeff Wyden's struggles with schizophrenia. The book brought renewed attention to the disease.