Elaine Margaret Levine, who was the editor and publisher of a group of community weekly newspapers in the Bay Area during the 60s and 70s, died on November 17, 2020, at age 91 at her historic home in the Saratoga hills. The cause of death was congestive heart failure. She died peacefully with family members nearby.
Elaine was born on a Wisconsin dairy farm near Campbellsport to Elmer and Esther Schrank on February 3, 1929. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin at Madison where she had majored in American Institutions. It was on the staff of the campus daily newspaper that she met her future husband, Morton Levine. They celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary last September.
The couple came west in 1953 with the goal of starting a local community newspaper. They founded their first paper, The Milpitas Post in 1954 with the help of her sister, Mae Schrank. Over the years, they owned additional newspapers throughout Santa Clara and San Mateo counties. These included The Country Almanac, Los Altos Town Crier, Cupertino Courier, Saratoga News, Los Gatos Times Observer, and five San Jose Sun neighborhood newspapers. In her professional career, Elaine was at the vanguard for women newspaper executives. Her efforts at recruiting and training reporters brought a high level of professionalism to the coverage of local government and education, and the papers were honored with many awards for editorial content.
Elaine was an avid gardener and was an active member in the California Native Plant Society, Master Gardeners of San Clara County, and Western Horticulture. When she and her husband restored the historic Fremont Older House in Saratoga, she supervised the restoration of the gardens. She also was a founding member of the Milpitas Historical Society. She and Mort traveled far and wide, enjoying museums, opera, and other music festivals. She and Mort participated in 35 Elder Hostel trips both in the U.S and abroad.
She is survived by her husband Mort Levine, four daughters; Deva Luna and her partner Terra Lee of San Jose CA, Meg Levine and husband Jeff Hargreaves of Oakland, CA, Kay and Ned Spencer of Conway, MA, and Amy Levine of Forestville, CA; six grandchildren, Anna Levine-Beard of San Jose, CA, Casey Levine-Beard and husband John McShane of Brooklyn, NY; Peter Hargreaves and partner Ema Guerrero of San Leandro, CA, Toby and Kori Hargreaves of Rio Linda, CA, Maia Spencer-Bunch and Allyson Spencer-Bunch of Northampton, MA and Nathan Koman and fiancé Jasmine Wingard of Petaluma, CA. Elaine also has two great-grandchildren, Mira Mae McShane and Orin Emrys Hargreaves.
Elaine’s family would like to extend a special thank you to Victoria Kamsler and the Kaiser Hospital Hospice team who took such good care of Elaine in her final months.