Bess Rovner, 95, of Oxford Circle, a volunteer, ace campaigner, and the mother of former Pennsylvania State Sen. Robert A. Rovner, died Jan. 4 of organ failure at Paul's Run in Bustleton, where she had lived for 18 months.
Mrs. Rovner never drove a car. Instead, she did her errands on foot, and the steady exercise may have accounted for her long life, her son said. "Walking was good, to give her good health in later years," he said.
Born Bess Grossman in Philadelphia, she graduated in 1940 from Simon Gratz High School. She married Edward H. Rovner in May 1942. The couple started a family at a young age relative to their peers, her son said.
The Rovners settled in a home on Sylvester Street in Northeast Philadelphia. They also divided their time between homes in Atlantic City and Hallandale, Fla.
Mrs. Rovner was a full-time mother, devoting her life to her family, her son said. But she found time to work the election polls and give out campaign literature at shopping centers when her son ran as a Republican for the Sixth Senatorial District seat. He served in the state Senate from 1970 to 1974.
Mrs. Rovner was a natural campaigner, her son said. "She liked people, would talk to them, and liked to learn about them. To this day, people will say to me, 'I met your mom when she was campaigning for you.' "
James R. Melinson, a retired Superior Court judge and former federal magistrate, knew Mrs. Rovner. According to her son, he liked to say: "If ever there was a need in central casting for a campaign worker, that would be Bess Rovner."
For 30 years, she was an active member of the ORT, a Jewish organization of retired teachers that sponsors educational programs throughout the world.
She also participated in events at the family's synagogue, Beth Emeth Congregation at 6652 Bustleton Ave. in Northeast Philadelphia. The synagogue has since merged with another congregation in the Greater Northeast section of the city.
Mrs. Rovner's husband was a labor leader. The couple loved to go on cruises and took 50 of them during their 67 years together. They also sought out performances featuring Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr., Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, Frankie Valli, and Paul Anka. "They loved good entertainment," her son said.
Mrs. Rovner's husband died in 2009. A brother and two sisters also died earlier.
In addition to her son, she is survived by children Bonnie Landis-Abrams and Howard P. Rovner, five grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.
Services were Jan. 9, with interment in Shalom Memorial Park, Huntingdon Valley.