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Shirley Goldberg Bookspan

It is with profound sadness to acknowledge the death of Shirley Esther Yentis Goldberg Bookspan formerly of Philadelphia, Pa, and currently of Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fl.

  • | 12:03 p.m. October 5, 2021
  • Siesta Key
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Shirley Goldberg Bookspan

It is with profound sadness to acknowledge the death of Shirley Esther Yentis Goldberg Bookspan formerly of Philadelphia, Pa, and currently of Siesta Key in Sarasota, Fl.

Shirley was born in South Philadelphia to Anna Serota and Samuel Yentis, both Jewish immigrants from the village of Katelyinka in Ukraine and Kiev, respectively. A first generation American, Shirley attended Overbrook High School and throughout the 1950’s she studied art history, contemporary art, and horticulture at the Barnes Foundation under the esteemed Ms. Violet De Mazia in Merion, Pa.

Throughout the 1960’s, she self produced children’s theater in Philadelphia through her company Phoenix Productions alongside her co-producer, Dallie Mohammed. Shirley always believed that inclusion and diversity were fundamental to community progress, and ensured that Phoenix Productions paved the way as the first integrated theatre company in the Philadelphia area. Families and children knew Shirley as The Storybook Lady, a title in which took great pride and joy. Later, Shirley produced an award nominated television special for PBS highlighting young prodigy musicians.

A passionate lover of music, arts and nature, she spent much of her time volunteering as a docent with the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center for Performing Arts, the Curtis Institute of Music, and the Rosenbach Museum in Philadelphia, as well as the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens--Historic Spanish Point in Sarasota, Fl. Shirley was a volunteer and member of the Sarasota Democratic Party and an avid reader who adored her book club and it’s members.

Shirley was loved by so many with whom she came in contact, touching the lives of a multitude of people. She imparted to her family a deep love of theater, art, nature, music, dance, animals and a spirited celebration of life in all its stages. A strong and passionate democrat and human rights advocate, she never hesitated making her views known and insisting injustice at every level of society must be fought. She taught her family to lead by her example, in her boldness, her glamour, her fierce spirit, independent nature and her courage to always be exceptionally herself.

Twice widowed, she was first married at 17 years of age to Albert L. (Boomie) Goldberg until his death in 1984, and later to Michael (Mickey) Bookspan, both of Philadelphia. She is survived by her two daughters, Barbara Goldberg Goldman (Michael F Goldman) and Robin Goldberg Coleman (Michael Coleman) both of Potomac, MD, five grandchildren Josh Coleman (Alissa Richin Coleman), Julianna Goldman Gottlieb (Michael J Gottlieb), Samantha Goldman, Kelen Coleman and Arielle Goldman, and four great-grandchildren Jacob, Austin, Abner, and Molly. In addition to her children, she was the beloved sister of the late Marlene Yentis Greenberg, and the aunt of two nieces, Dr. Suzan Greenberg (Milt Tarshish) and Ellen Greenberg, and one nephew, Dr. Michael Greenberg (Carol Greenberg), two grand-nieces Dr. Yael Tarshish and Anna Tarshish (Nathaniel Levy), three grand-nephews Nathaniel Tarshish, Gus Greenberg and Jessie Greenberg and one great-grand nephew Lipa.

She will be loved, deeply missed, forever remembered by, and remain in the hearts of her family members, and all who knew and were touched by both her inner and outward strength, magnetic presence and remarkable beauty. May her name and memory be a blessing for generations to come.

A funeral service will be held on Friday, October 8, 2021 at Judean Memorial Gardens in Olney, Md at noon. In honor of Shirley’s memory, the family has asked that donations be made in her name to the The Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in Sarasota, Fl ( and the Florida Democratic Party (


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