Sylvia E. Livingston, 1916-2011

I’ve had this post in my head for some time now. My grandmother, Sylvia Livingston, died today at age 95, but she lived a robust life full of joy. She was my last living grandparent and having spent as much time as I did with her, I feel a special love for her. The other thing that makes her passing a bit more poignant is the fact that I have children of my own now, and that wasn’t the case when I lost Pépère, Gramps, and Mémère. I had all four grandparents until age 19, which is a blessing.

If you are a parent, you know full well that you view life a bit differently. You see your parents through a different lens, and you appreciate your grandparents even more. Gram was the matriarch of Horst Engineering, the 65-year old family business that I lead. Unless you have been in a family business, you can’t really know what it is like, but I’ll tell you that it is extremely challenging, extremely special, and very rewarding. Every emotion is heightened and relationships grow very strong. She steadfastly stood by my grandfather as he built the business in the 1940’s and 1950’s. He came to this country unexpectedly, and she was his guide. She was his caregiver in his later years. Our family business history is as much her legacy as it is his.

There is so much I can write about her. After all, she was 95, and experienced so much. A list of words and phrases, in no particular order, that remind me of her: Red Sox, Curaçao, Old Colony Beach, Elijah, Binaca, purse, Scotch, Harlequin Romance, Johnny Carson, back scratching, lipstick, swim cap, brunch, jelly fish stings, soup at Bertucci’s, Days of Our Lives, UCONN Basketball, Entenmann’s, digging nails, Jay Leno, arm-chair, costume jewelry, A.C. Peterson’s, podiatrist, New York Giants, John Brown’s, Uncle Max, lobster, South Africa, Hartung Place, David Johns, drivers license, No Ad, Guiding Light, dancing, Harry “Stop that!,” Copaco, swim caps, and men’s facial hair.

I’m sure that I’m missing some key words, but my family will help me round out the list over time. That will be fun. They probably have a list of their own.

Despite two heart bypass operations, including one in the “old days,” she was still going strong until a month ago. She had a massive stroke on June 29th, which is a horrible way to go. She never recovered. The last four weeks have been painful for our family, and it was a good thing that her suffering and frustration are over. One day she could talk and eat, the next day she couldn’t. Every day, I read about young people tragically dying, and I am horrified by the thought of not living to an old age in good health. However, I know that when my time is up, I don’t want it to be a prolonged illness. When someone lives as full a life as Gram did, all you can do is move on and cherish the great memories.

I studied journalism at the Boston University School of Communications, and in my first print journalism course in the fall of 1991, we wrote obituaries every day for the first few weeks of the semester until we had mastered them. I read the obituaries every day and I’m always critical of the writing. Don’t be too hard on the one I wrote for Gram, and make sure that you cherish the loved ones in your life.

Sylvia E. (Hurwitz) Livingston, 95, of Seabury Dr.,Bloomfield, widow of Harry Livingston, died Tuesday August 2, 2011. She was the daughter of the late Samuel Hurwitz and Rose (Lapides) Hurwitz. She is survived by three sons, Stanley Livingston and his wife Adeline of Vernon; Steven Livingston and his wife Susan of South Windsor; Bert Livingston and his wife Demetria of Jacksonville, FL; three grandchildren, Scott Livingston and his wife Deborah of Bolton, Stacie Simko and her husband Steve of Coventry, and Emily Livingston of Jacksonville, FL; four great-grandchildren, Alexander and Hannah Simko; and Shepard and Dahlia Livingston; nephew, Harold Israel; cousin, Margot (Liebenstein) Merin; and many other nieces, nephews, and cousins. She and her husband founded Horst Engineering and Manufacturing Co. in 1946. She was a longtime summer resident of Old Colony Beach in Old Lyme. She was the treasurer of the Sisterhood of United Synagogues of Greater Hartford, and was well-known for being a passionate fan of the Boston Red Sox and UCONN Huskies. Special thanks to the Seabury Retirement Community. Funeral services will be Thursday,  11 a.m. at the Molloy Funeral Home, 906 Farmington Ave., West Hartford with burial in United Synagogue Memorial Park, Wethersfield. Shiva will be Thursday, 6 p.m.-9 p.m. at the Seabury Retirement Community Chapel 200 Seabury Dr. (off Wintonbury) Bloomfield, CT. Memorial contributions may be made to the Harry H. and Sylvia E. Livingston Philanthropic Fund, c/o Horst Engineering,36 Cedar St.,East Hartford,CT 06108.


Addendum (4 July 2011): Some words and phrases omitted from the original post. These also come to mind when I think of Gram: Chinese takout, hip, Scrabble, Entertainment Book, Shrimp Lady, turkey sitting, gift delivery, Young and the Restless, deer spotting, Rum and Coke, “Ha, ha, ha.”

4 Responses to “Sylvia E. Livingston, 1916-2011”

  1. 1 Kim Antoniou 2 August 2011 at 10:46 pm

    I know Deane will be saddened to read this, as your grandmother also was a part of his life and memories. You penned a loving tribute that lets others, like myself, get to know and appreciate her a little as well. I know she is smiling down on you and the rest of your family. Hugs to you all.

    — Kim Antoniou

  2. 2 Hollis Hartman 3 August 2011 at 8:13 am

    I loved my “Tante” Syliva and admire the love that her family bestowed on her. Her family loved her and treated her with the utmost respect. After her first heart surgery “in the old days” i was chosen to keep her company….. and I loved every minute of it….
    I feel fortunate that I was able to see her enjoying her home at Seabury, in good health, offering me chopped liver from her refrigerator…and saddened to see her in her last days. But I saw her beam with pride at her great grandchildren when Stacie and Steve brought Alexander and Hannah to visit her in her bed.
    She was an amazing woman who left a legacy behind her. I admired her and will miss her…
    Hollis Hartman

  3. 3 Tracy Fede Agreda 3 August 2011 at 10:31 am

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Mrs. Livingston is a true inspiration to all. Living your life to the fullest the the only way of staying enternally young and celebrating all the wonderful things life has to offer. Our thoughts are with you all.

    Tracy & Charlie Agreda
    Friends and family of C & P Machine Company, Inc.

  4. 4 sarapci 4 August 2011 at 4:24 am

    My condolences Scott.


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