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Jun. 10—WILKES-BARRE — When Steven Roth deliver the eulogy at his father's funeral service, he will remember him as a"mensch."
Mensch is a Yiddish word for a person of integrity and honor. It also means the person is "someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character."
Steven's father, Eugene Roth, Esq. 85, of Wilkes-Barre, passed away on Wednesday, June 9, at home.
"I witnessed his character throughout my life and have always marveled at his ability to see the best in everyone in all of his interactions," Steven said. "I love my dad and I will forever have a hole in my heart over his passing. I have lost my dad, my friend, my mentor, my law partner. He was all these things to me and I am going to miss him every day."
Born in Wilkes-Barre, Mr. Roth was the son of the late Max and Rae Klein Roth. He was a 1953 graduate of GAR High School, a 1957 graduate of Wilkes University and a 1960 graduate with honors from the Dickinson School of Law in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.
He was a Partner in the law firm of Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald, LLP for more than 60 years and maintained a longstanding and successful practice in the firm's business and finance department to public and private companies.
He was a 61-year member of the Luzerne County, Pennsylvania and American Bar Associations.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by his son, Lawrence; granddaughter, Emma Roth; brother, Phillip Roth who died while serving his country in World War II; brother, Marvin Roth and sister, Sandra Warshal.
Eugene is survived by his loving wife, Constance Debra Smulyan Roth; daughter, Joan Roth Kleinman and her husband, Keith of Dallas; son, Steven Roth and his wife, Susan of Shavertown; son, Jeffery Roth and his wife, Kathy of Kingston. He is also survived by grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
Roth grew up on Wells Street, in the heights section of Wilkes-Barre in the late 1930's and 1940's and he often talked about his childhood and the life he led as a child.
"I believe that the values he learned as a young boy and the influences in his life helped to shape the generous and loving person I would come to know as my dad," Steven said.
After graduation from Wilkes, Roth had his sights set on attending law school at the Dickenson Law School in Carlisle. He graduated from the Dickenson Law School, passed the bar and was hired as an associate at Rosenn, Jenkins & Greenwald in 1960. He would later become a Partner in the firm and a well-respected business lawyer representing public and private companies attending to all of their legal needs.
"My parents were kids when they got married — she was 19 and he was 22," Steven said. "They had a 64-year long love affair, were best friends and did everything together. My dad loved to spend his summers at Harvey's Lake, sitting on the porch, reading legal briefs and watching his family on the dock while my mom would be sure that a family dinner was always there for her children and grandchildren."
Former Wilkes University President Christopher Breiseth said Roth was his best friend at Wilkes as a trustee and president.
"We had the closest relationship I've had over 17 years," Breiseth said. "I consider him a brother."
Breiseth described Roth as a man with a very gentle personality, but a spine of steel about things he cared about
"And he cared about Wilkes," Breiseth said. m"And Gene was devoted to his family — his wife, kids, parents."
Breiseth said he and Roth made many fundraising trips together and Roth always liked to talk about his family, always with great respect and love.
"He was committed to Wilkes-Barre," Breiseth said. "Everything I was part of in Wilkes-Barre beyond the university, involved Gene as a quiet adviser and a knowledgeable attorney,"
"I don't know anyone who did not respect him," Breiseth said. "Whenever I had a problem that was really challenging, I went to Gene. And I don't think I ever saw him really angry. I'm sure he may have, but he never showed it. He always found a way to calm the waters."
Attorney Murray Ufberg was a law partner with Roth for more than 50 years and a close personal friend.
"Gene was a man of enormous integrity," Ufberg said. "He was extremely loyal to his principles and to the people with whom he dealt and who depended on him He was a wonderful lawyer, a dedicated practitioner and a very bright individual who was able to translate that into great benefits to his clients.
"And he so loved his family."
Ufberg said there wasn't a day when he and Roth didn't communicate with each other about issues at the law firm, family issues, and the world as each saw it.
"He became a staple in a very important part of my life," Ufberg said. "Gene was an extraordinary servant of the people of Wyoming Valley.
"I will miss him. The people he knew will miss him. His passing is an enormously tragic loss and leaves a void in our community."
Andrew J. Sordoni said he and Roth were friends for nearly 60 years.
"He was my counselor in every way," Sordoni said. "He was an extraordinary lawyer and a generous philanthropic person who cared about his community and country. Gene was a patriotic American and a devout Jew. He exuded all of the best characteristics of both.
"His obituary only touches the surface of the many lives he touched and served for the better."
Roth family statement
"Our father was a kind and thoughtful person who was always available to give us advise, make us feel loved and supported. He was a kind and generous person who supported many community organizations and causes.
He loved our mother Connie and their 64-year marriage was a true love affair. He was very proud of and loved his four children and his grandchildren. He loved them all and they loved him as well.
On behalf of the staff, paralegals, attorneys and partners of my firm:
"We are saddened by the loss of our friend, partner and colleague. Gene Roth was a talented business lawyer known throughout the State for his integrity and honesty and respected for his legal and business acumen as a practitioner.
Gene practiced law for more than 60 years and served our firm's clients with the highest degree of care and consideration. Gene will be missed for his sense of humor and his years of dedication to all of us."