Geri Rothman-Serot, whose long career in public service included serving as the “Second Lady” of Missouri, an accomplished member of the St. Louis County Council, and the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 1992, died July 2, 2019. She was 75 and a three-time survivor of breast cancer. Her son, Daniel Rothman, said she died of bone cancer.
A St. Louis native, Ms. Rothman-Serot lived in Sarasota, Fla. for the past several years.
Rothman-Serot was admired for her friendly approach to politics and took pride in her ability to work with Republicans as well as fellow Democrats. When her first husband, Kenneth Rothman, who died April 26, became the first person of the Jewish faith to serve as Missouri House Speaker and later as the first Jewish Missouri Lieutenant Governor, Ms. Rothman-Serot organized the spouses of state lawmakers to lobby for a new museum in the state Capitol. She also led the effort to raise funds for the “Hall of Famous Missourians,” which continues to exist in the Capitol building. Mr. Rothman and Ms. Rothman-Serot later divorced.
After being elected in 1990 to the St. Louis County Council, Ms. Rothman-Serot advocated for incinerator regulations that banned medical waste from being burned in the St. Louis area. That law, which Ms. Rothman-Serot’s family describes as “one of her proudest accomplishments” has been copied in other cities around the country. She also spearheaded strong hate crimes ordinances with the support of the St. Louis County Human Relations Commission and her fellow members of the County Council.
In 1992, she was the Democratic nominee in an unsuccessful bid to defeat Republican Sen. Christopher “Kit” Bond. The following year she dropped out of a race to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. John Danforth.
Geraldine Rothman-Serot was born Feb. 15, 1944, the daughter of Erwin Jaffe and Genevieve Blumberg Jaffe. She was a graduate of Ladue Horton Watkins High School.
She received the Globe-Democrat Woman of Achievement Award and the Distinguished Alumni Award from Ladue Horton Watkins High School, among many other honors.
While living in Florida, Ms. Rothman-Serot served on many boards and committees to educate men and women to eliminate their fear of cancer and understand that people with the disease can live long and productive lives. She served on the Lakeland Regional Medical Center’s Foundation’s Women in Philanthropy Board as well as the First Annual Polk County Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure.
In addition to her many general organizations, Ms. Rothman-Serot was a member of United Hebrew Congregation, the National Council of Jewish Women-St. Louis, Hadassah and numerous other Jewish organizations and causes.
In his eulogy at a graveside serivce July 5 at Chesed Shel Emeth Cemetery in Chesterfield, Rabbi Howard Kaplansky, emeritus of United Hebrew, said Ms. Rothman-Serot “was one of the most remarkable, most intelligent, most interesting, most elegant, most impressive, and at the same time, most welcoming people” he has known.
“Geri was an inspiration to so many people, including me,” Kaplansky said. “Geri acted on her beliefs and stood up for what she thought was ‘right.’ She worked for the benefit and sake of others. Whether it was through her political or her volunteer activities, Geri improved the lives of others.”
Among the survivors are her husband, Dr. Don Serot, an orthopedic surgeon, eight children and 16 grandchildren.
Contributions can be sent to STAND UP TO CANCER, https://standuptocancer.org/take-action.