Dr. Wilma Sylvia (Friedman) Rosen, beloved psychiatrist and artist, died peacefully on July 7. Wilma was the first woman psychiatrist at Butler Hospital and served there more than 40 years. She also provided therapy to artists at RISD’s Office of Counseling.
Her life story was an inspiration to many she counseled and mentored as a clinical professor at Brown Medical School. One of her former residents, Patricia Recupero, became one of her dearest friends.
Encouraged by her feisty mother Minnie and gentle father Philip, her hard work as a young girl won her scholarships and awards that led to a degree at the Philadelphia Museum School of Art. Regretting the lonely life of an artist she discovered a fascination with psychiatry and completed her medical degree at Temple Medical School at a time when quotas restricted admission of Jewish women. That combined love and fascination with helping people find their identities and reflecting the beauty of the individual was expressed through her compassion for adolescents and artists, helping patients find second chances, and her thoughtful portraits.
She was deeply honored to be an artist member of the Providence Art Club where she spent many happy years as she slowly and reluctantly retired from Butler and RISD and rediscovered her own identity. And as her heart made her too frail to continue her art, her life had meaning through the warmth and kindness she shared with friends and staff throughout the Providence area and ultimately at Tockwotton.
She is survived by her two daughters, Allyson Rosen and Liz Grinspoon, her grandchildren, Susanna Aufrichtig, Jacob Lehrer, and Emma and Zach Grinspoon. She is also survived by her sister, June Chernetz, and her children Gwyn, Lynn, George, and his wife Deborah Keller. Wilma’s art is featured on http://wilmarosenart.blogspot.com/. A celebration of her life will be held on Sept. 29 at the Providence Art Club.