By David Michael Newstead.
Today marks the 30th Anniversary of the death of Abel Meeropol. Meeropol passed away at age 83 in a retirement home in Massachusetts, having spent the last years of his life struggling with Alzheimer’s. Professionally, the songwriter is best remembered for his works Strange Fruit and The House I Live In, which have been performed by artists like Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Frank Sinatra, Sam Cooke, Paul Robeson, and others. In his personal life, Abel and his wife Anne were famous for adopting the orphaned sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg after the couple was executed in 1953. Today, Abel’s legacy is rooted in having guided his adopted sons through the worst days of McCarthyism and in the enduring significance of the song Strange Fruit as America continues to grapple with violence and racism in our society. Abel Meeropol was born in New York City in 1903, the son of Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe. He is survived by his adopted sons, Robert and Michael Meeropol, four grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.