Elene Meyer Davis was born in Yoakum, Texas on the 7th of October 1924, and died on the 7th of June 2016, of complications due to congestive heart failure and the 2016 Presidential campaign.
Elene was Salutatorian of her class at Yoakum High School, schooled in life and politics at the knee of her father, Marcell A. Meyer, who was a Jeffersonian Democrat, a highly independent thinker, a lumberman who rode fifty miles a day on horseback, with a shotgun in his saddle in the logging camps of south Louisiana, and who later founded and operated the Woodring-Meyer Lumber Company and Tex-Tan Leather company in Yoakum. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin at the age of 19 and was pleased that her children and some of her grandchildren followed in her footsteps there.
Elene's mother, Myrtle Levy Meyer, was the descendant of early settlers of the State of Louisiana. Her great-grandfather, Lazarus Levy, was a member of the Prussian Brigade from Louisiana and was wounded during the Civil War at The Battle of Shiloh in 1862, at the time, the bloodiest battle in American history. The favorite niece of Henri Bendel, Myrtle taught Elene about art and design, more than a smattering of French and German, a love of travel, and the value of gardening, sewing and cooking well, all of which Elene undertook with enthusiasm and great success. One day Elene decided to start growing roses. By the next day, after she had bought more than 100 bushes and enlisted her husband Leon to help plant them, he quipped in all his years as an entrepreneur he had never before seen a hobby turn into an industry so quickly. In no time, Elene became a well-known Rosarian.
Until her death, Elene honored an obligation to preserve her family's Southern legacy, personally undertaking the restoration of the Jewish Cemetery in Lafayette, Louisiana and maintaining her membership in the Jefferson Davis Chapter of the Daughters of the Confederacy. A student of history, she felt strongly that political correctness was an excuse to erase facts and history and she deplored the misinformed, the ill-informed and the mal-informed and thus made no apologies for the Truth, which she demanded from her children and others at all times.
After Elene married Leon, she became his quiet partner in raising children and making sacrifices. She was an accomplished golfer, and a tennis and golf coach to their four children. Elene and Leon were married for 61 years, during which time she also supported his career in the oil business. Few people knew that she was the first woman in the world to be treated pre-metastatically with Interferon and was the inspiration for Leon's founding of the Interferon Foundation, with friend Roy Huffington in 1979. The use of Interferon has since saved the lives of thousands of cancer patients worldwide. Thus, it was fitting that Elene was very interested in the technology that allowed Dr. Neil Strickman to implant an aortic valve without a general anesthetic or surgery and was grateful that he was willing to undertake this procedure for her, coincidentally at the hospital cofounded by her uncle, in spite of several underlying pulmonary issues which would ultimately prevent her full recovery.
While Leon was gregarious and loved his many friends, and her many uncles were well-known and prodigious philanthropists, Elene was private and practiced a quiet brand of gift and grace. Her children remember vividly that when Cuban exiles settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the 1960s, where Leon and Elene lived in the early years of their marriage, Elene instructed her children to gather clothes and winter coats and promptly led the drive to donate clothes and food, sure that this would also teach her children about charity. When she befriended a nurse, with 12 children and a disabled husband during a hospital stay, once again Elene gathered the children, clothes and food and descended upon the household with brooms, food, help and comfort and instructed her very young children to start sweeping. For more than 50 years, Elene kept a rosary, a gift from that nurse's sister, on her desk and it was in her hands when she died.
Elene was predeceased by her husband, Leon, and their daughter, Evan Carole Davis, her parents, and her sister, Marjorie Meyer Arsht. An honorable, irascible, impeccable, elegant, intellectual, knowledgeable, highly principled and accomplished matriarch, Elene will be missed by her children and grandchildren. She is survived by her daughter Lynn Davis Lasher and her children, Reese, Hayden Lasher McGuiness and husband, David, and William Lasher; her son Lance Harrison Davis and wife Barbara Fain Davis and their children, Whit, Parker, George and Natalie; and Ross Meyer Davis and wife, Gail Alexander Davis and their children, Allie, Kate and Emmie.
The family would like to thank Marie Johnson, Ruky Abedeke, Musu Bannister, Toni Isiaka, Severina Gonzalez, Elder Chacon and Noe Chacon for their many years of devoted service.
The family would also like to thank Dr. Kim Bloom and Drs. Neil Strickman, James Livesay, George Younis, and Joggy George; the nurses on the 23rd Floor of St. Luke's Hospital, whose loving care of Leon and Elene, gave them so much comfort as they battled old-age and its infirmities: Jyoti Amin, Mary Ann Cortez, Aleza Espinosa, Shefali Gandhi, Melissa Guitron, Nimisha Patel, Sosamma Thomas, Christina Varner and Elene's much beloved Rebecca Reiss. They would also like to thank Alice Leatherman and Father Peter Wood, who blessed Elene with a Hail Mary and a perfect rendition in Hebrew of a prayer for the dying in the early hours of the morning of her death.
Friends are invited to a visitation with the family from five o'clock until seven o'clock in the evening, on Monday, the 13th of June at 5551 Cedar Creek Dr.
A memorial service is to be conducted at 3:00 in the afternoon on Tuesday, June 14, at the Houston Congregation for Reform Judaism, 801 Bering Dr. in Houston, where Rabbi Steven M. Gross is to officiate. A reception is to follow at a venue to be announced during the service.
Prior to the memorial service, the family will have gathered at a private interment at Congregation Beth Israel Memorial Gardens at 1101 Antoine Dr. Houston, TX, 77055.
In lieu of customary remembrances, and for those desiring, the family requests with gratitude that memorial contributions in Elene's name be directed to the Leopold L. Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics at Texas Children's Hospital, 8080 North Stadium Drive, Houston, TX, 77054; the Wounded Warrior Project, Attn: Advance Guard PO Box 758517, Topeka, KS, 66675; or the SPCA at 900 Portway Dr. Houston, TX, 77024.