East Bay Grandmother, A “Tiny Tornado”, Taken By COVID-19

"She was always moving. Never stopped for anyone or anything."

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Looking back on the life of Alice Coopersmith Furst, it's a wonder anyone ever got a clear photograph of her.

Furst was a woman in constant motion, right up until her later years living in a North Bay senior community.

"One of her friends there called her, 'The Tiny Tornado,'" said her son, Mark Coopersmith.

Coopersmith and his son, Matt, always marveled at the way the mother of three and grandmother of six attacked each and every day.

"She was always moving," Matt Coopersmith said. "She never stopped for anything or anyone."

That, it should be noted, included barriers.

As a physician's daughter growing up in New York City, Furst was part of the first class of girls to attend the Bronx High School of Science and among the first Jewish students to be admitted to Tufts University.

Furst spent her career as a speech therapist, often working with developmentally challenged students. Education, though, was more than just her profession.

"Education was very important to her and it's what she stressed to us as kids," Coopersmith said.

Coopersmith, a professor at UC Berkeley said nothing made his mother happier than hearing about the academic accomplishments of her children and grandchildren.

Just below that, was her love of music, travel, and cooking. Although Coopersmith said, Furst's enthusiasm could sometimes outpace her talents.

This is going to sound terrible, but she thought she was a better cook than she was," Coopersmith said with a laugh. "At the Passover seder, she would always bring out her matzo balls but they were so hard and rubbery but we all them because she was so proud of them."

Coopersmith says he takes comfort these days knowing his mother's battle with COVID-19 was brief and peaceful as well as the fact his daughter, one of those grandchildren whose education Furst championed, is now a microbial scientist working on the testing and treatment of infectious diseases.

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