Rowena Galerston

Rowena Mae Ungerman Iola Galerston, born Sept. 27, 1933 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, passed away at her home in Dallas on Dec. 12, 2023, at the age of 90.

Preceded in death by parents, Irvine E. and Hannah Ungerman, brother Maynard Ungerman, her first husband, David T. Iola, and granddaughter Erin Iola.

Left to mourn are her husband of 52 years, David M. Galerston; children Cheryl Lipshutz (Jim Lerdal), Mark Iola (Sarah Clark), Billy Galerston (Robyn), Randy Iola (Darci) and Rebecca Jedel (Marc); grandchildren, Drew Lipshutz (Randi), Scott Lipshutz (Rachel), Lisa Tobolowsky (Zach), Sam Iola (Jessica), Miles Iola, Kyle Galerston (Octavia) Maddie Galerston, Arielle Spector (Eric), David Iola, Jessica Migues (Derek) and Eric Jedel; and great-grandchildren, Evan and Jenna Lipshutz,  Blair and Rory Lipshutz, Elliott Iola and Isla Tobolowsky.

Rowena graduated from Central High School in Tulsa in 1951.  She attended the University of Texas, but left to wed David Iola. Widowed at age 32 with three young children, she moved to Houston, where she reconnected with Dave Galerston, a fraternity brother of David Iola at the University of Oklahoma. They married in 1971 and formed a blended family with five children, embarking on numerous adventures with the kids packed into the back of a station wagon or cruising the waters of Texas and Oklahoma in a boat.

In addition to working and raising her family, Rowena remained involved in the Jewish community in each city as they moved around Texas. From Houston to Midland to Dallas, she was active in the sisterhood of the various congregations. While in Tulsa, she also served as Southwest President of the Women’s League for Conservative Judaism. After leaving Tulsa in the early 2000s, Rowena and Dave, split their time between homes in Houston, where they could easily visit their grandchildren, and Naples, FL where they expanded their list of lifetime friends.  They returned to Dallas in March 2021.

Rowena loved to travel. She and Dave took each of their twelve (12) grandchildren on a weeklong Bar or Bat Mitzvah vacation, all of them overseas. From Japan to Tanzania, from Paris to St Petersburg, a fantastic time was had by all. Upon arrival at the departure airport, each child was presented with a journal to record their daily experiences. Shortly after returning home, Rowena would present them with a photo album as a memento of their time together.

As a couple, Rowena and Dave traveled the world. New Zealand, Australia, Egypt, Israel, and Jordan, to name a few. They lived in Argentina while Dave worked as a consultant, visiting many nearby South American countries.

The consummate gambler, cruises with Dave were her favorite opportunity to engage in her most-loved past time. Oftentimes, on a whim, Ro and Hannah would pack their bags and jet off to Vegas for some slot machine time. 

To a person, Rowena was described as a force to be reckoned with, as larger than life and as a woman with a huge heart. She lived her life with gusto to the very end.

Graveside services will be held Friday, Dec. 15, at 2 p.m. at Rose Hill Cemetery, 4161 E. Admiral Place, Tulsa, officiated by Rabbi Marc Boone Fitzerman of Congregation B’nai Emunah, Tulsa. 

A shiva will be held Sunday, Dec. 17, at 11a.m. at The Legacy at Midtown Park, 8240 Manderville Lane, Dallas, led by Rabbi Stefan Weinberg of Congregation Anshai Torah, Plano. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to The Legacy Senior Communities Foundation in Rowena’s memory.  All donations will be directed to The Legacy at Midtown Park’s Grateful Hearts fund.  Donations can be made at or mailed to 8260 Manderville Lane, Suite 300, Dallas, TX 75231

May her memory be a blessing.

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