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Elvira David Obituary

Elvira (Ellie/Elvi) David (75) passed away September 14, 2006. Born in Jasina, Czechoslovakia, on September 22, 1930. Survived the Holocaust, including Auschwitz. Lived from 1954-1988 in the Chicago area and the past 18 years in Los Angeles. Beloved wife of Fred David. Loving mother and mother-in-law of Debbie David and Daniel Ben-Zvi of Los Angeles, Mark David and Debbie Ellerin of Brookline, MA, and Karen David of Los Angeles. Cherished grandmother of Michael, Rebecca, Sarah, Joey, and Amy. Devoted sister and sister-in-law to Hedy and Karl Reisman of Los Angeles. Services were held at Hillside Memorial Park on Sunday, September 17, 2006. Shiva (Memorial Week) at the David home through Friday, September 22, with afternoon/evening Minyan (services) daily through Thursday at 6:30 p.m. Donations in her memory may be made to Vanderbilt Shy-Drager Research Fund, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, AA-3228 Medical Center North, Nashville, TN 37232-2195.

Eulogy for Elvira David delivered by her youngest daughter, Karen, at her funeral September 17, 2006:

Everyone has been expressing so beautifully to try to capture the essence of who my mother was. I have already received so many comforting expressions of love for my mom and appreciation of her genuine qualities of love and warmth. So many have shared what an inspiration my mom was to them, drawing strength, as I have, from her incredible courage and strength in the way she lived her life – in her ability to look at the positive side of things, whether the way she was able to move on with her life after the Holocaust and or the way she faced her progressive and debilitating disease.

Although she endured unfathomable physical and emotional challenges, she faced these with dignity, with incredible courage and grace, as well as strength of mind, body and spirit.

I just want to speak briefly about some of what makes my mom so special to me. I think that for those of us who knew her – her closest family and friends – we certainly feel that we were blessed to have had her for as long as we did. And from what I keep hearing, the same goes even for those who only knew or met her briefly and immediately experienced her warmth, her smiling, sparkling eyes, and her genuine interest in you, usually expressed in her engaging with you in a “let-me-get-to-know-everything-about-you” conversation, and in more recent years, in her ability to look you in the eyes and seemingly, drink you in – so genuine was her interest in knowing about you and caring about you. She also had a gift for making people in her presence feel special. Those of us who knew her well remember her for her warmth, her good nature, her positive energy, her intelligence and common sense, her zest for life, how she loved to laugh and her great sense of humor – which included her ability to laugh at herself as well as at life’s and ups and downs.

We also remember and were always amazed by my mom’s incredible energy. She always loved to entertain and have people in her home and welcomed out-of-town guests frequently.

She was known by out-of-town family and friends for being a great hostess and a great cook and for her whirlwind tours of Chicago. And no matter who the guest was - how young or old - she always out-ran and exhausted her guests because she simply could just keep going and she was so excited to pack in as much of showing off the great sights or cultural attractions of Chicago as she could, before returning home where her guests usually would collapse and she would move on to preparing a nice dinner upon the conclusion of the tour.

Even in her later years, though she could no longer do it all herself, it was still important for her to host people in her home. She made sure to teach Mayra, her dedicated caregiver, and incredible cook, all of her favorite recipes as well as the traditional Jewish and holiday recipes and preparations, so that she could still continue to have the immense pleasure she derived from entertaining and hosting holiday dinners in her home with her family.

In addition to putting so much energy and love into raising us (my sister, brother and me), I think my mom could fairly well be considered one of the early supermoms, being that she also worked – nearly full-time with my father in his veterinary practice, finding ways to do as much as possible of the bookwork from home so she could be around more for us, whether to be involved with us in some of our extracurricular activities or just to be home to warm our hands and make us hot chocolate when we came home from school on a cold, wintry Chicago day. She was a great listener and was always there to give me her attention and encouragement and made me feel that she trusted and respected me, yet if needed, she could always offer sound advice. AND, I was always so proud of how smart she was, as remarked by so many. She could even help us with our chemistry homework, having been a chemist herself. She had so many other interests as well which she managed to pursue. She was an early adopter of technology getting her first PC in the early ‘80’s, and becoming proficient in MS-DOS. She also found time to pursue some of her other varied interests including art and going to museums, gardening and photography, getting a real estate license, taking classes in nutrition AND keeping up on and always learning more about investing and participating in investment clubs. It was ALSO always important for her to give back to the community as well, and she taught us, through her own example, the importance of tzedakah and tikkun olam. She had a love for Israel and Yiddishkeit which she inspired in all of us and she used to enjoy volunteering for ORT and Hadassah or helping sell Israel Bonds during Israel’s times of crisis.

One of the most special gifts my mom gave me was an appreciation of the preciousness of family - this she also did through example. She was always so close with her sister, Aunt Hedy, that Debbie, Mark and I, too, learned to love and respect and hold each other near. I loved our frequent visits to Aunt Hedy and Uncle Karl and considered Myra and Anne more as sisters than cousins. For my mom, having lost so much family – including her parents and little sister – at so young an age, every family member mattered deeply, and she placed a high priority on staying connected – both with her own relatives as well as my father’s. And she would share stories with us of the family we would never know because they were killed in the Holocaust, such as her parents, her grandparents, her little sister, among so many, thereby keeping their memories alive. My mom instilled in us a great appreciation and love for family. Those bonds are now helping to hold me up now as I mourn your loss.

As I sat down to pull my thoughts together on what I wanted to share about what made my mom such a special person, I realized that one theme kept coming up – the idea of gratitude.

My experience of my mom is that she always lived her life in gratitude and tried to focus on the positive. She did not speak too often of her experience in the Shoah, but when she did, she chose to share the more positive stories, such as stories of the nurturing and help she and her sister received, particularly from other women, as well as stories of luck or miracles by which she had been saved. Her appreciation was apparent.

Through the course of her long-term illness, she remained grateful for what she still had or could still do, no matter how much she had lost or how much of what she had previously been able to do had been diminished. She moved through her illness and the progression of it with dignity, strength, courage and grace, always doing her utmost to fight and do as much as she could to enjoy life. My mom taught us, by example, that we can bounce back, as she did so many times. She also gave us a template for how to face adversity with grace and humor!

I am grateful for the lessons she taught me, the great template for how to walk through life and keep things in perspective and for the inspiration she has brought to me and so many others.

Even though in later years my mom could not express herself with words, her eyes said it all! She still maintained that sparkle and warmth that I am sure was the first thing that my Dad fell in love with when he met her.
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Published online on 9/15/2006.

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To read the eulogy for Elvira David delivered by her youngest daughter, Karen, at her funeral September 17, 2006, please click here: Eulogy for Elvira David
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