Elaine Sneirson Savin, 90, died peacefully at home after a short battle with cancer. Elaine was the eldest of two daughters born in Binghamton NY to Dr. Hyman Sneirson, a renowed surgeon and WWII veteran of Patton’s army, and Barbara Gordon Sneirson.
Elaine graduated from the Emma Willard School and Cornell University where she met the love of her life, Marvin S. “Pete” Savin. They were married for 45 years until he died in 1998.
Elaine was elegant, vivacious, kind, and wildly stylish, including in her favorite outfit of blue jeans and moccasins. Everyone who met her was smitten with her. She was a principal at The Hartford Knights ACFL football team and at Petelain Racing Stables of Ocala, Florida. She was a force in Hartford civic and cultural affairs, having served as president or on the board of directors of, among other institutions, the Bellevue Square Boys’ Club, the Greater Hartford Jewish Federation, The Hartford Ballet, Hartford Arts Council, Hartford College for Women, Neighborhood Centers, and Watkinson House. She was committed to social justice, voting rights, animal welfare, and women’s rights and was an early advocate for prison reform. In 1986, she and Pete received the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award.
Pete and Elaine lived in West Hartford for the first few years of their marriage and then built their dream house in Bloomfield, where she raised their children and had what she called “the most wonderful time” with them; with her beloved friends she called her “dear pals”; and with her children’s friends, who helped themselves to her outstanding fried chicken which was somehow available at all times in her oven.
Elaine was a force in her 13 grandchildren’s lives. Some of them called her Lala and some of them called her Ha (when they couldn’t pronounce the “L”). She froze on the sidelines of their games and danced at their weddings. She drove herself to Florida to see them, or flew to California. They each had a personal, powerful connection to her, and they cherished and admired her. She said they were “the best,” and they called her The GOAT. Her phone infuriated her when she couldn’t find their photos, or photos of her seven great-grandchildren, in the text messages.
Elaine loved her Sneirson relatives. She loved her girlfriends. She loved football because of the players’ courage and athleticism. She loved horse racing, ballet, ancient Chinese poetry, great literature, her dogs (especially Venger-Dear-Beast, Sunny, and Hash) and the White Mountains of New Hampshire. She climbed Mount Washington dozens of times. Last June, on her 90th birthday, she climbed only to the crystal waterfall, but a whole squad of grandchildren reached the summit for her, so, as she said, “All was well.”
At Cornell, Elaine studied Government and literature, and remembered lectures from her favorite professor, Vladimir Nabokov. She was a dancer there, and a choreographer. She was the “big sister” of her sorority sister, Ruth, then still Bader. Their connection lasted all their lives, as was apparent a few years ago, when Justice Ginsburg, upon seeing Elaine at a Supreme Court dinner for a mutual friend, made a beeline to give Elaine a great hug before whisking her away to chambers for a private visit. Elaine was special company.
When Elaine was 80 years old and standing in line for a Flamenco performance in Sevilla, a group of young people approached her. “We just want to say that everything about you is stunning,” they said. This happened to Elaine often: complete strangers noticing her movie-star beauty, ballet dancer’s posture, and her zest and smile, and stopping her on the street. She was delighted when they praised her outdated but evidently snazzy sunglasses. “Everyone loves my glasses!” she beamed. Everyone actually loved everything about her. Her style was just the outer manifestation of her beauty. She’s may have lived a glamorous and exciting life, but in her heart, she was always the small town doctor’s daughter from Binghamton.
Elaine leaves five children: Stacey Savin and husband Hon. Robert C. Chatigny of Simsbury, Connecticut; Nina Savin Scott and husband William Scott of Kennebunkport, Maine; Sugar Savin McCauley and husband Bill McCauley of Del Ray Beach, Florida; Terri Savin Docal of Miami, Florida; and John Peter Savin, of West Palm Beach, Florida; and she leaves her cousin, Lynne Snierson, of Salem, New Hampshire
Her 13 grandchildren are: Nathan Savin Scott, Anastasia Tess Davidson, Haley Susan Scott, Peter Robert Chatigny, John Victor Chatigny, Morgan Savin McCauley, Tierney McCauley Wilkins, Antonio Tomas Docal, John Carlos Docal, Jasmin Alejandra Docal, Matthew Walker Savin, Charlotte Louise Savin, and Lilly Carter Savin. She leaves seven great-grandchildren: William Savin Davidson, John Murdoch Davidson, Redding Shae Scott, Callum Savin Scott, Caspian McCauley Wilkins, Tallulah Elaine Wilkins, and Griffin Joseph McCauley.
A private funeral service is being held for the family. Please feel encouraged to sign the guest book for Elaine below.