Early life and education
Born Gertrude Lamfrom to a German Jewish family in Augsburg, Germany, she was the daughter of Marie (née Epstein) and Paul Lamfrom. Her father owned the largest shirt factory in Germany until it was seized. Her mother was a nurse during World War I. In 1937, when she was 13, her family fled Nazi Germany and immigrated to Portland, Oregon, in the United States; her grandmother, who had remained in Germany, died in a concentration camp. When the family arrived, she did not speak English. In 1938, her father borrowed money from a relative and purchased the Rosenfeld Hat Company, changing its name to the Columbia Hat Company (after the river). She attended Grant High School in Portland, and later graduated with a B.A. in sociology from the University of Arizona.