Claire Matzger Lilienthal
From 1910 through 1978, Madison School was considered one of the finest elementary schools in San Francisco. One of its many well-known alumni was Claire Matzger Lilienthal. She was born of German emigrant parents, Emil and Marie Blumlein, on March 5, 1909.
Young Claire attended Madison from 1914 to 1922 and then San Francisco's Girl's High School, where she gained a life-long appreciation for clear English and precise grammar. She earned her Bachelor's degree and Masters degree in Philosophy from the University of California in Berkeley. She studied at the University of Geneva in Switzerland. Claire was fluent in French and German and was an excellent classical pianist. In 1931, she married San Francisco's first allergy specialist, Edward Matzger, M.D., with whom she raised three children.
Because of her proven effectiveness in civil affairs, Mayor George Christopher appointed Claire Matzger to the Board of Education in September 1957. She served as its President in 1961, and again from 1967 through 1972. She was devoted to maintaining the quality of public education in an era of declining budgets.
In 1964, after Dr. Matzger's death, Claire Matzger married Ernest Lilienthal.
Throughout her adult life, Claire Lilienthal was a leader of many civic and charitable organizations, including the League of Women Voters, the California Academy of Sciences, the Jewish Welfare Federation and the California Constitutional Revision Commission.
Claire Lilienthal died on May 8, 1981. Writing of her career, the San Francisco Examiner stated that "... she was an architect of thoughtful change when the national wave of fighting for Black rights and the lifting of social consciousness crashed down upon the City's old ways. Patiently negotiating with Board colleagues ... Claire Lilienthal drafted a prescription for racial integration, which was adopted by the Board of Education in 1969."
In June of 1981, the Board of Education voted unanimously to rename Madison School in her honor. In doing so, the Board stated: "Claire Matzger Lilienthal served this city and the San Francisco Unified School District for fifteen years with dedication and wisdom. She was committed to public schools and equal educational opportunities for all children.
In September 1981, the Claire Lienthal School opened as a traditional academic school, with emphasis on citizenship, leadership, and enrichment activities. The combination of alert and excited students, fine teaching, and thoughtful parental and community involvement has created a public institution of learning and achievement which truly reflects the standards of excellence associated with the name, Claire Matzger Lilienthal.