Joanna Semel Rose

November 22, 1930November 13, 2021

Joanna Semel Rose, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, friend, collector, patron of the arts, and philanthropist, passed away peacefully on November 13, 2021, at her home in Manhattan. For many decades the Chairman of the Board of Partisan Review magazine, she became known to a broader public in 2011 through Infinite Variety, an exhibition of red and white early American patchwork quilts from her collection.

Notable for her remarkable intellect, wit, charm and interest in others, over half a century her renowned salons brought together an international group of artists, writers, educators and diplomats. Valedictorian at Lawrence High School and Bryn Mawr College, from which she graduated summa cum laude, she pursued graduate work at St. Hilda's College at Oxford University and served as assistant to Joseph L. Mankiewicz and as a producer at the Theatre Guild.

Elected to membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2012, she was an Honorary Fellow of St. Hilda's College, Oxford University and an Associate Fellow of Berkeley College, Yale University. She served on the boards of the New York Council for the Humanities, the New York Institute for the Humanities, the Harlem Educational Activities Fund, the advisory board of the CUNY Graduate Center for the Humanities, and the national advisory board of the W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute.

She was a founding board member of Poets & Writers, the National Dance Institute, The Paper Bag Players, the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, Long Island, and The American Friends of St Hilda's. She commissioned numerous creative projects, including major works of modern Judaica that she donated to the Morgan Library. She was never happier than when she was learning.

Joanna S. Rose is survived by a vast extended family including her husband, her four children, and eleven grandchildren. Funeral and interment will be private. A memorial service will be held at a later date for her many friends and family. No flowers, please,

The funeral service for Joanna will be private but, available to view using the following link on Tuesday; November 16, 2021 at 9:00. The link will be live five minutes prior to service:

For those unable to visit in person, the family will be sitting for shiva online at 3:00 pm on Friday and noon on Sunday, Zoom Meeting ID: 831 4351 0349 and Passcode: 690734


  • Funeral Service

    Tuesday, November 16, 2021

  • Private Funeral Service

    Tuesday, November 16, 2021



Joanna Semel Rose

have a memory or condolence to add?

Margaret Stern

December 4, 2021

An ineffably beloved and inspirational human being. My saddest condolences to Emily and Dan and the family.

Tony Stimac

November 25, 2021

My wife Marilyn and I have known Joanna Rose for the past 45 years. Reluctant to compete with the many eloquent messages attesting to this magnificent woman and her endless accomplishments, I would like to share a few anecdotes which speak for themselves.
In 1976, I was engaged to produce the Bicentennial summer season at Guild Hall’s John Drew Theatre in East Hampton. Our apprentices worked 18 hours a day, building and painting sets or making and finding props by day, then serving as stagehands on the shows in the evening. They did this every day of the summer with not a single day off. On a changeover weekend, they had to stay up all night to strike one set and put up the next and then, with only short naps in the aisles of the theatre, work the tech the next day.
That summer, my wife Marilyn and I were invited to many elegant and sometimes elaborate soirees as long as we brought our leading actors and actresses. It was always made clear that the hoi polloi, were not invited. Alas, the young people doing the countless hours of work were never to experience a summer cocktail party in East Hampton.
As the summer progressed one of our apprentices stood out. Her name was Emily Rose. She was so good at finding and making props we made her our official prop mistress. Near the end of the season, I got a call from her mother, Joanna. She wanted to throw a party but for a change only the apprentices would be invited. When we arrived, there was a huge clambake being prepared and waiters in livery were serving soft drinks. It took place alongside their pool and these young aspiring thespians were being treated like stars. They were stunned and in shock as were Marilyn and I. They spent the day frolicking in the pool in between gorging themselves on an absolute feast. It was one of the most beautiful and heartwarming days of the summer. I was deeply touched by Joanna’s thoughtful consideration, and we began a friendship, which has endured to this day.

Toby Miller

November 23, 2021

My parents were family friends. I was fortunate enough to be cared for, educated, and appreciated by Joanna Rose. I benefited enormously from her wit, intellect, charm, generosity, and thoughtfulness. My thoughts are with all her loved ones at this time. Best regards, Toby

Abby Levin

November 22, 2021

I am Joannna's youngest first cousin on the Mindlin side.
I have many fond memories of Joanna, too many to speak of.... From the time I was a little girl Joanna and Dan extended their home for big family holiday parites for the entire family.
We got all dressed up, and spent each holiday year getting closer with our extended family. My mom continued the tradition and then Joanna and her family came to Jersey to celebrate. Joanna modeled closeness and compassion in a way that was both subtle and gracious. She was so happy and (relieved) that I finally got married that she gave me a wonderful engagement party.( I will never forget that gorgeous Marilyn Monroe negligee she bought me for my wedding night). Joanna made me and everyone else feel like we were the only ones in the room, with a genuine interest in all events and activities. I will miss Joanna every day and am so glad that Emily and I are as close as we are, as she is my mini-Joanna.

With Love,
Abby Weinberg-Levin

Joanna Mira

November 19, 2021

Our hearts go out to the Rose Family. It was truly an honor and blessing to have known Joanna Rose. My mother (Maria E. Villa-Mira) had worked for Mrs. Rose in East Hampton several years ago and to this day can greatly recall her love and friendship towards all of her employees. Mrs. Rose’s relationship with my family only grew from the minute I was born which led to my mother naming me Joanna in honor of her. Every time I got the chance to visit without fail she would always ask what book I was reading at the time. There was never a visit where I would leave without having learned something new about the world. As much as she loved hearing about my own life I always personally enjoyed whenever she would share with me stories about her own adventures and experiences. Without a doubt her love story with Mr. Rose is one of my favorites of all time and I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to hear it from her during one of my visits.
Mrs. Rose was there cheering me on at my high school graduation, and was consistently my number one fan when it came to any triumph (even the little things). I still remember calling her when I got into NYU and how she loudly proclaimed “I'M SO PROUD OF YOU” through the phone. She was truly a remarkable human being who’s kindness, generosity and affection were limitless for anyone who knew her. Everyday it is an honor to carry and have her name. Although I am deeply saddened and heartbroken, I know you are now resting and a guardian angel for so many of us whose lives you touched and changed forever. I will always hold a special place in my heart for you Joanna S. Rose and I am forever grateful for the memories that continue to live with me.

Nancy Weinberg Winston

November 18, 2021

I first met my cousin Joanna when I was a four month old infant at our family summer camp in 1945 and mom brought me down to bunk 19 to show me off to the 15 year old campers, of whom Joanna was everyone's favorite.
I don't remember, because I was just a baby, but I swear I fell in love with her in that instant and have idolized and adored her all my life ever since.
Our mothers were two of five exceptionally close and devoted sisters and Joanna was similarly close and devoted to us, her thirteen cousins.
When she and Dan married in 1956 they had 26 first cousins between them!
Every marriage, every birth, every career success was cause for celebration and our family reunions in Easthampton were epic, reflecting her generosity and love of family.
Joanna was endlessly curious, interested in everyone who was lucky enough to cross her path and engaged in life more than anyone I have ever known.
I will miss her and cherish her memory forever.
With deepest condolences and love to Dan, David, Joe, Emily, Gideon, and Dan Semel and their families.

Fabrizzio D'Ortignacq

November 17, 2021

She was a angel of God, who had an interest in everyone, a helping hand to someone in need without expectations.
The most difficult part of my life Is to start a new chapter of my life, knowing she's no longer going to be near me.
I thank God for giving me the honor to know an amazing person like Mrs Joanna S Rose.
She will live in my heart for ever.

Elizabeth Schiff

November 16, 2021

Over 56 years ago, I arrived at Brearley for the first day of first grade. I was nervous and scared because I was unescorted and I didn’t know where the first grade classrooms were nor who my teacher was to be. I didn’t know how to read, but I was far too embarrassed to ask anyone for help, so I just hung out near the elevators, staring at the class lists and praying for a miracle as the lobby emptied out and students made their way to their classrooms. (Perhaps if I stared long enough at the lists, I would somehow magically be able to decipher the letters?) Luckily my miracle arrived in the form of Joanna. She recognized my nervousness through my nonchalance, marched up to me and asked me where my mother was. (Home.) Joanna immediately took me under her wing, found out what class I was in, escorted me there, introduced me to Miss Mochrie, and didn’t leave until I was settled in. That was the first of many hundreds of favors Joanna did for me over the course of my lifetime. I am very, very grateful to her.

durell godfrey

November 15, 2021

i will never forget the red and white quilt show at the armory. it was her amazing gift to new yorkers. i considered it a magical experience, and something i referred to as QUILT CHURCH. i am grateful for her generosity of spirit and her extraordinary vision.

durell godfrey, east hampton, ny

Rachel Dickstein

November 15, 2021

I cannot think of anyone who had a deeper impact on my work as a theatre artist than Joanna. We met over 20 years ago as she had been close with my father Morris through many years at Partisan Review. She came to see a workshop of a production I directed in 2002 when the company was barely a year old. She loved what we did. From there forward, she became one of the most loyal and generous supporters of Ripe Time, my theatre company. She and Dan hosted a benefit for our company in 2009 in their beautiful apartment - what became a glorious intellectual salon discussing Antigone and the psychology of girlhood. I remember her insisting on providing a full and spectacular dinner to everyone who came, just one small example of her amazing generosity. Her continued support in the last decade made an immeasurable difference to our small non- profit. I was always so impressed that someone whose philanthropy extended to major NYC cultural organizations would continue to support our small endeavor. But that is who Joanna was. Brilliant, kind, generous and an intellectual powerhouse. I cannot imagine a world without her. With great love and strength to Dan and her whole beloved family.