Florence Appel Roth, philanthropist and widow of entrepreneur Bernard B. Roth, passed away of natural causes on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at her home in Beverly Hills. She was 93.
Florence Roth was an instrumental partner to her husband of 74 years as he built his company, World Oil Corp., from a single gas station in South Los Angeles into one of California’s largest privately held enterprises. As a young married couple, Florence and Bernard explored Los Angeles together evaluating sites for new gas stations following World Oil’s founding in 1938. Florence continued to provide invaluable counsel and support to her husband until he passed away last year at the age of 95.
Today, World Oil and its affiliates operate gasoline stations throughout California, and have diversified their operations to include road and roofing asphalt production, trucking, marine terminal operations and real estate development. The company is perhaps best known for pioneering the “self serve” gasoline station. World Oil also anticipated the rise of “green” technology – decades before the popularity and success of most sustainable businesses, World Oil acquired a fledgling petroleum recycling company and transformed it into the largest petroleum recycling business in the Western U.S.
Florence Appel was born on May 28, 1919, in Montreal, Canada, the eldest of three children. Her family moved to Los Angeles when she was 3, and at 17 she married Bernard Roth, who was then working as an usher at the Paramount Theater in East Los Angeles.
Giving back to the Los Angeles community was extremely important to Florence and Bernard Roth. Together, they created the Florence and Bernard B. Roth Family Foundation, and have actively supported leading civic institutions such as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Music Center, Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Jewish Federation, among others. The Foundation also played a lead role in the development of summer camps in Malibu and a West L.A. K-6 elementary school campus affiliated with Wilshire Boulevard Temple.
A loving and devoted mother, Florence Roth is survived by three children: Richard of New York, Steven of Beverly Hills, and Robert of Newport Beach. She is also survived by six grandchildren and six great grandchildren.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages that donations be made to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Funeral services will be held at Wilshire Boulevard Temple Irmas Campus (11661 W. Olympic Boulevard, 90064) at 11:30am on Friday August 3, 2012.