On Sunday, Rosalind Nyman Joel, Billy Joel’s mother died at the age of 92. Billy posted this on his website for his fans. The obituary reads:
Rosalind Nyman Joel was born on February 15, 1922 in Brooklyn, New York, to Philip and Rebecca Nyman, who had emigrated from England. In a 1942 student musical production at City College of New York, she met Howard Joel, a German immigrant whose family had escaped Nazi Germany, in 1939. World War II would interrupt their courtship, but after Howard’s service in the U.S. Army, he returned and they married in 1946. Their son William Martin Joel was born in May of 1949. Later, the family adopted Judy, daughter of Rosalind’s late sister Muriel.
Rosalind and Howard Joel divorced in 1957, and as a single mother, she did clerical work for various businesses near the family home in Hicksville, Long Island.
In addition to an active social life, she supported various charitable endeavors. Progressing from her strong support in assuring his musical education, the son who would reach world renown as singer-songwriter Billy Joel used his grounding in classical music to help create one of pop music’s most enduring bodies of work.
His poignant song, “Rosalinda’s Eyes,” from the 1978 album, 52nd Street, is a tribute to her, derived from the family history.
Rosalind Nyman Joel passed away July 13, 2014 at the age of 92.
She is survived by son Billy Joel, and her daughter Judy Molinari; her sister, Bertha Miller; and her two granddaughters, Alexa Ray Joel, and Rebecca Molinari Gehrkin.
In lieu of flowers the family requests a donation to The Little Shelter in her name.
The Little Shelter
33 Warner Road
Huntington, NY 11743
In addition to what Billy had posted on his website, his ex-wife Christie Brinkley wrote a tribute to her former mother-in-law which reads as this:
“At sad times we look for ways to find the good to lift our spirits, so I have only to imagine what Rosalinda’s Eyes have seen to find cause to celebrate a life well lived! Just in this year alone she saw her son, Billy Joel receive the Kennedy Center Honor, the highest cultural honor possible, from the President of the United States no less, and Rosalind greatly appreciated the Arts! She also saw her son get a regular gig at Madison Square Garden (where he already holds a record) and where Roz is welcomed on a first name basis! And her eyes sparkled with pride and joy as the former Gilbert and Sullivan chorus girl, watched her granddaughter Alexa perform at the famed Cafe Carlyle surrounded by a large group of her friends enjoying themselves. I know as a mom myself that when you see your kids happy healthy and enjoying their passions you feel content and happy. Rosalinda’s Eyes will live on not only in the song inspired by her, but in Billy, and Alexa… and Nanny Roz herself would find that worth celebrating. @alexarayjoel #cherishedgrandmother #restinpeace.”
Our thoughts and prayers go out to Billy and his family.
In honor of his late mother, listen to his song called “Rosalinda’s Eyes”