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Georgette Levis

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Georgette Levis Obituary
Georgette Levis

1944 -- 2014 MANCHESTER Georgette Levis, who owned and ran The Wilburton Inn in Manchester Village, for 27 years with her husband, Dr. Albert Levis, died on Feb. 6, 2014, from complications of cancer. Georgette was the inspiration for the character 'Gorgeous', in her sister Wendy Wasserstein's play, The Sisters Rosensweig. Madeline Khan received the Tony Award in 1993 for her portrayal of the role. She and her sisters were portrayed in the book Sisters. Georgette, born in Brooklyn on Aug. 31, 1944, is the last of the talented progeny of Lola and Morris Wasserstein. The clan included playwright Wendy Wasserstein, banker Bruce Wasserstein, business executive Sandra Meyer and Abner Wasserstein, an advocate for the disabled. Like her sister Wendy, Georgette was known for her quick wit, generous smile and her popularity. Georgette's humor was captured in her laugh-out-loud newsletters that chronicled the celebrations and challenges of running an inn. Georgette and Albert moved to Manchester in 1972, to a gentleman's farm, which they named Earth Sky Time, inspired by the Greek Creation stories. Georgette enjoyed the vintage apple orchard and was proud of her flower gardens. They filled the house with friends and visitors, and Georgette, a former dancer, celebrated creativity. She choreographed living room cabaret performances and, with the children, composed songs and original musical revues featuring her children. Inspired by this start, her daughters Tajlei and Melissa went on to be professional lyricists and songwriters of off-Broadway musicals. Georgette and Albert purchased the Wilburton Inn from RKO in 1987. Georgette became the innkeeper as Albert had just published two books, Conflict Analysis, the Formal Theory of Behavior, and Conflict Analysis Training, all while being a full time psychiatrist in New Haven, Conn. The first week in business with a full house of guests, over Columbus Day weekend, a storm knocked out power for a week. Albert recalled, "We had freezers full of food, which we chilled in the snow. The gas stove worked, so we kept the restaurant open and served dinner by candle light." As Albert focused on creating art exhibits at the Museum of the Creative Process on the grounds of the Wilburton Inn, Georgette forged ahead, decorating and upgrading the 40 rooms, and turning the mansion, with panoramic mountain views, into a year-round wedding and vacation destination. She researched and wrote the history of the property, which was built as a country home, from a Chicago railroad baron before becoming a school for European refugees during WWII, a glamorous private club in the 1950s, and an executive retreat before becoming the Levis' inn more than a quarter of a century ago. The Wilburton Inn is a member of Historic Hotels of America. Georgette used the Wilburton as a canvas for culinary and cultural events; organic farm buffets on the terrace, Italian opera brunches, Marie Antoinette French feasts, concerts by daughter Melissa, who lead's NYC's popular children's band, Moey's Music Party and interactive murder mysteries written by her daughter Tajlei. Though Georgette frequently joked how her four ivy-league children ended up in such non-traditional careers; Oliver, an organic farmer and baker; Melissa, a singer-songwriter; Tajlei, a playwright and lyricist, and Max, a scholar of religion and psychology, Georgette took great pride in the accomplishments of her four children. Georgette allowed her son, Oliver, to turn the family home into Earth Sky Time Farm and Bakery, reasoning that the imposition of tractors on the lawn was balanced out by the fresh croissants. Continuing the family tradition of hospitality, Earth Sky Time Farm is famous for its artisanal bread, and musical shabbat celebrations. Recently, the Wilburton hosted a celebration of Georgette featuring a staged reading of Melissa's autobiographical musical Inn Trouble. Georgette was a pillar of Manchester's business and cultural community. She served on the board of the Chamber of Commerce for over 20 years. She was also on the board of The Israel Congregation of Manchester and sponsored an original play reading series at the Dorset Theatre Festival. Over 250 friends, relatives, employees, and guests of the Wilburton Inn attended her memorial service at the Wilburton Inn. Her funeral procession through Dellwood Cemetery was led by a marching klezmer band and a horse-drawn carriage. She is survived by her husband, Dr. Albert Levis; her children, Tajlei, Melissa, Oliver and Max Levis; her grandchildren, Theo Canter, Noam Canter, Monty Singer, Guv Levis, Talula Levis and Eden Levis, and by her nieces and nephews, Jenifer Brooks, Samantha Schlumberger, Pam, Ben, Scoop, Jack, Dash and Lucy Jane Wasserstein.
Published in The Manchester Journal from Feb. 14 to Mar. 7, 2014
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