Roberta Grower, a patron of the arts who was once the subject of a Citibank marketing poster on the Long Island Rail Road, died March 4 at age 84.
Grower was born Roberta Gluck on June 19, 1934 and grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens, along with her brother, Stanley. She was the daughter of Jacob “Jack” Gluck, a mechanic and defense factory worker during World War II, and Ida Bell Lichtman, a sales clerk and civil servant.
She attended Queens College, and although she didn’t graduate was drawn to the arts, particularly acting and music. It was in those circles that she met her future husband, Edgar Grower, a Broadway actor and saxophonist and clarinetist. He would later become a partner in a TV commercial production studio.
The couple had three children, and lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan for a few years before moving to Manhasset, where she lived for several decades.
She acted in small productions, her son, Paul Grower, 54, of Briarcliff Manor, said.
“She ran in some beatnik circles and knew jazz musicians,” her daughter Julie Grower, 60, of Nashville, said. “She was a real patron of the arts, both art and music.”
Her mother worked for about 20 years at Citibank, first in the public relations department and later as a branch manager in Rockville Centre.
It was at that company that Roberta, “a beautiful woman,” Julie Grower said, was asked to pose for a photo to market Citibank on the LIRR.
She recalls commuting for work, seeing the poster and exclaiming, “That’s my Mom!”
The family has tried to track down the poster but has been unsuccessful so far.
Roberta Grower also liked politics, and volunteered for George McGovern’s presidential campaign, stuffing envelopes, posting flyers and canvassing, Julie Grower said.
Her mother mentioned taking her young daughter to an anti-Vietnam War march, something she must’ve been too young to remember, she said.
Years after her husband of 35 years died, Grower sold her Manhasset house and moved to Port Washington with her longtime companion, Allen Lynch.
Lynch, 87, spoke lovingly of the woman whom he never married, after having two previous wives.
“Of the three women in my life, Roberta was the easiest to get along with,” he said with a chuckle.
He said their progressive political stances brought them together, as did their love of reading.
“She was a crossword puzzle devotee, not quite so me,” he said.
After she retired from Citibank, she worked part time at Brooklyn Museum in its collections department, feeding her love for the arts.
“I remember her warmth toward people, her inquisitiveness about people. She was always very interested in others and what they were doing,” Julie Grower said. “Always asked people a lot of questions about themselves, she made them feel like they were interesting and worth knowing about.”
Paul Grower said he remembers their house being filled with family members, including a time his mother took in a cousin who needed help.
“She was the matriarch with all of our cousins and relatives, the place where we all congregated,” he said.
She doted on her three grandchildren, Michael, 26, of Queens, and Ryan, 8, and Marc, 5, of Briarcliff Manor.
“She adored them,” Lynch said.
Roberta Grower is also survived by her daughter Beth Grower, 56, of Elmont.
A memorial service was held on March 10 at Roslyn Heights Funeral Home.