Saturday, February 25, 2017

Goodbye, Mom and Dad

SUMMARY: Their history.
Backfill: Added Feb 18, 2019.
Feb 18, 1:35 PST: Added more details here and there.
Feb 19, 6:12 p.m. PST: Added 50th anniversary photos at the end.


Note: This is their expanded obituary. The very shortened versions as published in the San Jose Mercury are posted in my Feb 18, 2019 post.

Parents’ Obituaries
Feb 2017

Robert J. (Bob) Levy
Sept 20, 1930-Aug 10, 2015
Resident of Cupertino

Louise W. Levy
Nov 30, 1928-Dec 27, 2016
Resident of Cupertino

Bob and Louise married May 22, 1954, in Endicott, New York and remained sweethearts through their 61 years of marriage.


Bob, before they met


Bob was born in Jamaica, Queens, NY and lived there until college. He mastered the subways and buses at an early age and loved the Museum of Natural History and the New York Public Library. At the age of 12, he entered Brooklyn Technical High School “as one of the smallest boys” with an Aeronautical major. He graduated “as one of the tallest.”

Bob attended Hillsdale College in Michigan for 2 years, followed by two years of study at the New York State College of Forestry in Syracuse, pursuing his love of the outdoors learned in part through four summers working as a counselor and caretaker at Old Oak Farm. After this, he worked briefly as a rodman on a survey crew.

Most importantly, in Syracuse he joined the Syracuse Outing Club, in which he participated enthusiastically and met the equally enthusiastic, intelligent, and attractive camper and hiker Louise. They knew each other through the Club for a while before starting to date in mid-1951.

Very shortly thereafter, the government called on Bob to serve in Korea during the war, from 1951 until 1954.

Within weeks of his return to the states, he and Louise married.

After that, at SUNY Albany, Bob graduated with a BS Cum Laude in Math and an MS in Physics.

Louise, before they met


Louise was born in Massena, NY. Several generations of her relatives and ancestors had lived in that part of the state. She joined Girl Scouts in 1938, and participated in one form or another until her last few years.

Her family enjoyed outdoor activities, particularly canoeing and camping in central and northern New York state. Birds fascinated her, and she could be found with binoculars to her eyes and a Peterson’s Field Guide in her pocket for decades, anywhere she traveled.

At Syracuse University, she earned BA and MA degrees in Early Childhood Education. Although she dated other students there, she fell in love with the “romantic” and “funny” Bob Levy (as her diary reveals). They became engaged.

After graduation, she taught elementary school for a few years.

After they married


They moved to Albany so that Bob could complete his degrees. Louise became pregnant right away, which began her long career as mother, homemaker, and community volunteer. Although the first child lived for only a day, a year later they had another girl.

After SUNY Albany, Bob and Louise took a summer job managing John’s Brook Lodge in the Adirondacks. Both enjoyed it. After the summer, they moved to Newcomb, NY for Bob’s new job as a high school science teacher, where their second girl was born. Two years later, they received an offer to manage Adirondak Loj in Lake Placid, NY, and worked there for a year and a half, during which time their third daughter arrived.

At that time, for ethical and logistical reasons, with three children, Bob looked for a better opportunity. Systems Development Corp. offered to train him in the new industry of computer programming with the potential of a job offer if he did well; the catch was that the training and potential job were in Santa Monica, CA. So they packed their belongings in their Chevy Carry-all and drove cross-country, which seemed like a world away from their families and relatives in New York state. Bob got the job and stayed with SDC through a move to Colorado Springs, CO, just before which their fourth daughter arrived. There, they bought their first brand-new home and painted it bright yellow.

When the SDC project was cancelled, Bob accepted an intriguing job at IBM in Poughkeepsie, NY, developing systems for the yet unreleased IBM 360. So, with four kids and the fifth girl on the way, they sold their house and drove back to New York. There, they bought their next brand-new home and painted it bright yellow.

Louise began finding time to volunteer with the Girl Scouts, including as a troop leader.

Bob’s IBM job took them to Cupertino, CA, in 1968, where they bought a brand-new five-bedroom home. They lived in that, yes, bright-yellow family home for 48 years, until their deaths. Bob eventually worked for a variety of technical firms as a software developer, then briefly as a machinist along with Louise as an admin at the same company, before retiring.

Bob took an interest in local politics, served on citizen committees for the Cupertino City Council, and once ran for Councilman.

Louise joined the League of Women Voters in 1973 and remained active as Secretary until her last couple of years. She also joined the Environmental Volunteers, for over 30 years helping school children to understand and enjoy our natural environment in the classroom and on hikes. She volunteered for a while as a school librarian. (At Lincoln?*) . Louise attended Union Church and sang in the choir there from 1968 until her death.

Bob and Louise loved to explore this country, to hike, to camp, and to canoe, and, starting from their days together in the Outing Club until very late in life, they kept it up weekend after weekend and summer after summer, introducing their five children to the delights offered by nature and at parks and museums across most of the states in the US. They devoted months together researching, writing, producing, and selling some of the first detailed trail guides for Rancho San Antonio and other area parks.

Together, they also taught First Aid classes for the Red Cross and volunteered at polling places during elections. They enjoyed genealogical research and wrote, transcribed, assembled, and published a variety of books about their ancestors. Through their efforts they made contact with, and kept in touch with, many distant relatives.

They loved having family gatherings, and hosted birthday dinners and holiday dinners at their home every year, including a yearly, nearly all-day Christmas smorgasbord and gift exchange with what became a large extended family.

They were generous with their time and money (as budget allowed) to family and neighbors and set high standards for moral behavior by their examples.

They are survived by their daughters Ellen, Ann, Linda, Susan, and Sharon, sons-in-law, six grandchildren, Bob’s cousin Carol Anne Munson and her children, and Louise’s niece, grandniece, and great-grandniece.


Remembrance 2:00 February 25, 2017 at Union Church in Cupertino


* Things to double-check.
Also: When did they get engaged? Did Dad propose?
When exactly did dad report for army duty, when did he leave for Korea?

There are tons more unsorted unlabeled photos of the two of them together on my photo site.

1954


2004, 50th Anniversary


2013




7 comments:

  1. Mom was also librarian at church, as well as on the church board. Dad was one of the facilities personnel there.
    You didn't mention the first pregnancy which unfortunately miscarried.
    I believe they were engaged before dad left for Korea (Mom mentioned they had the longest engagement).

    Also not mentioned was mom's involvement with League of Women Voters, a nonpartisan organization for whom she was president and secretary several times.
    Sharon

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I didn't mention that pregnancy.
      They were engaged before dad left for korea, but I haven't looked up when exactly.
      LWV is mentioned in there.
      Thanks for the comments.

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    2. I don't remember Dad ever talking about being on the church facilities team. When was that?

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  2. At first I didn't know if I wanted to read this, figuring I'd cry. But instead I found myself nodding and smiling at so much. If your parents had met my parents they would have been friends. Except maybe for the yellow houses. On the other hand...my mom was an artist, she would have appreciated the yellow. And your dad went to Hillsdale! That wasn't far from where we first grew up, and mom and dad had college friends who settled there. We used to visit them regularly in the 60s. This was truly wonderful to read, I hope it helped to write it. I always felt when I wrote things like this that I could relax a little and not try to keep it all remembered in my head.

    HUGS!

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    Replies
    1. There's so much more to write! But my dad had already written a lot of it in the huge Anecdotal History of Our Family. I don't think that he updated it after the late '90s, but still, it's a great family resource and I'm so glad that he did it (including photos, maps, everything)l I think that our parents would have liked yours, too

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  3. PS: I notice in the second picture she's smiling at him pretty much the same way she did on her wedding day all those years before.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a sweet observation! Yes, she was an independent, active, and responsible woman, but I think that, when he went, she was pretty much done because she relied on his presence for life. They loved each other through all those years. I have a 60th anniversary photo of both of them looking at each other but didn't have it available at the time. I'm adding it to the end.

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