Elli Herberg was a trailblazer and led an amazing life. Born October 4, 1931, in Santa Barbara, California, she passed away peacefully Wednesday, July 28, 2021, in San Diego, California, after a courageous battle with dementia and Parkinson’s disease, but oh, what a ride she had before the disease overtook her.
She was the younger of two children of Margaret and Clair Rudolph and was precocious from the outset. She grew up in Lompoc and Santa Barbara for the first 16 years of her life, spiced with Old Town Fiesta Days and frequent camping trips to her beloved Yosemite National Park. She was an academic star at her school and entered Stanford University as a freshman a year ahead of her peers. There she met the love of her life, Rollie Herberg, a grad student at Stanford Business School. After being elected to Phi Beta Kappa Society and graduating, Elli married Rollie in Santa Barbara in 1952 and they began their loving journey through life together for the next 57 years. Along the way, they packed amazing adventures and memories into their lives. They hiked to the top of Yosemite’s Half Dome and traveled extensively to 6 of the world’s 7 continents.
Due to Rollie’s profession as a land developer, they lived in resort locations from San Diego to Aspen to Hawaii, eventually returning to San Diego. And everywhere they lived, they remodeled—never quite completing the remodel until right before they moved to the next location. Rollie was the construction guru, but Elli was the interior designer and together they had exquisite taste. Their homes were like art galleries, built to showcase their extensive collection of artworks. Elli and Rollie were a very social couple and gathered large circles of friends wherever they went. Everywhere they lived, Elli was very involved in her community as a leader in volunteer organizations while raising their three children David, Katie, and Jim. But it was after they were empty-nesters, that Elli fulfilled her lifelong dream at the urging of her son, David—she took the LSAT, passed it with flying colors, prepared several trays of frozen lasagna for Rollie and the cat, and went to Boalt Hall Law School at UC Berkeley to get her juris doctorate degree. She practiced real estate law at Ashford and Wriston in Honolulu for 16 years before joining Rollie in retirement.
Even after Rollie’s passing in 2015, Elli remained active in her community attending senior events all over San Diego county and was beloved by many. Although we mourn the loss of her presence in our daily lives, we can be joyous in celebration of her release from her painful, earthly bounds to rejoin Rollie bathed in the light and love of God.