Elaine Title Lowengard, 93, passed away on June 21, 2022 at Anthology Senior Living, a long-term care community in Farmington, CT. Born in Hartford, CT on April 5,1929 to Melvin W. and Fanchon Hartman Title, she resided in West Hartford for most of her life. Known to family and friends as “ET,” she was a scholar, teacher, politician, businesswoman and non-profit leader.
Elaine spent her early childhood at the family home on Prospect Avenue with her older brother, parents and Hartman grandparents. The house had been built by her grandfather, and her great-grandfather, tobacco merchant Sam Hartman (d. 1925) had also lived there. Ultimately, seven generations of her family would call this house home.
Elaine attended Beach Park and Alfred Plant Junior High schools in West Harford, and graduated from The Chaffee School (Windsor CT) in 1946. She followed high school with matriculation at, in rapid succession, Vassar College, Connecticut College, and The University of Zurich (where she was among the first group of US foreign exchange students after the Second World War); she graduated from Connecticut College Phi Beta Kappa in 1950. Her next academic step was a graduate program in English at Radcliffe College which she gleefully dropped out of after one semester. In subsequent years, she would return to school to study classics (M.A., Penn), education (UMASS-Amherst), and Hebrew.
While in Zurich she met a lacrosse player from Baltimore on an exchange program at the University of Lausanne, Jerome Harry Lowengard. Their first date was an eight-mile bicycle ride around the Zurich See, presaging a life-time of energetic outdoor adventures skiing, canoeing, camping and hiking. They reconnected on returning to the US, were engaged at Christmas 1950 and married on Friday the thirteenth of April, 1951. They honeymooned in Europe that summer, famously meeting the Italian artist Dario Viterbo and his wife, Ada Vera, who became lifelong friends and mentors. Their encounters with a young Rupert Murdoch on the beach in Yugoslavia also proved to be a source of amusing stories ever after.
The couple first settled in Baltimore while Jerry completed his bachelor’s degree at Johns Hopkins University (she made sure he graduated by typing his thesis), then moved briefly to New York City where he explored a job in advertising and before moving to Philadelphia. In March 1955, wanderlust struck again, and the couple dropped off their two daughters, aged 20 months and five months, with Elaine’s parents in West Hartford and took off on a three-month European tour. A year later, they relocated to West Hartford where over the next eight years, their four sons were born.
Never much interested in housekeeping (though she was an excellent cook), in 1957 ET was hired to teach ancient and medieval history at her alma mater Chaffee. She would continue to teach at Chaffee and then Loomis-Chaffee for the next 20 years, adding politics, Latin and a variety of famously creative elective courses. She also served as Chairman of the Classics Department and the Humanities Program, and was the faculty representative to the Board of Trustees for a three-year term.
Elaine was hired away from Loomis-Chaffee in 1977, becoming Director of The Westledge School in Simsbury, CT for two years before making a radical career change. Brought in to Connecticut Bank and Trust Co. to be the Director of Corporate Communications, she later became Vice President of CBT’s non-profit lending business—for the Hartford area and then statewide in Connecticut. After retiring from the Bank, Elaine made one last career swerve, taking a position as Executive Director of the Connecticut Valley Girl Scout Council in 1989. This was a job her mother had held almost 50 years earlier.
In addition to working full-time and raising her family, ET was deeply involved in a myriad of civic, cultural, religious and political activities. A longtime member of the West Harford Democratic Town Committee, in 1972 she ran for the 19th Assembly District seat of the Connecticut State House of Representatives. The ringing endorsement in the West Hartford News cited her as “the cosmetic and cerebral candidate of choice,” but the district was heavily gerrymandered to the Republicans, and she lost. From 1973 to 1977 she co-chaired with Jerry the West Hartford Bicentennial Committee, and in 1979-80 was a regular panelist on the “Comment” program of WFSB Channel 3. She held multiple trustee positions, including the Connecticut Teacher’s Retirement Board, St. Joseph College, Watkinson Prisoner’s Aid Society and The Institute for Living.
She was also a prolific and persuasive fund raiser and in 1980-84, again with Jerry Lowengard and others, founded the Charter Oak Temple Restoration Association (now the Charter Oak Cultural Center), crisscrossing the country to raise funds to bring new life to the original building of her family’s religious community. In 1992 she listed on her resume no fewer than 10 ongoing projects, including serving as a corporator of St. Francis Hospital and the Hartford Seminary Foundation, a member of the Board of Directors for Advest Bank and Trust Co., and the Center for Theater Techniques in Education and on five committees at Temple Beth Israel. She was also a devoted subscriber to the Hartford Symphony, the Hartford Stage Company, TheaterWorks and Goodspeed Opera House.
In 1980, after a decade of renting homes all over Nantucket Island, she built a summer home on Hummock Pond Road. She and Jerry would entertain family and friends at “The Lion in Summer” for the next 25 years. She never lost her love for travel, and organized and led student study tours to Europe in the summers while she was teaching at Chaffee, taking her children along for the ride to France, Switzerland, Spain and Italy. She brought her two eldest sons with her to Russia and Eastern Europe in 1971, and her younger boys on a hunt for guitar factories through England, France, Spain, and Italy. One granddaughter accompanied her to Egypt and Israel and another one to England and she brought a daughter, three teenaged grandchildren and a cousin to Israel in the mid-2000s. Following the death of her husband in 2002, she returned to Israel alone, explored Africa, and traveled to their beloved Florence to scatter his ashes accompanied by several of her children and their spouses.
She was thoroughly devoted to her husband’s Labradors, Mai, Dai and Toby and her mini-poodles, Charlemagne and Josephine.
Elaine was a two-time survivor of cancer. Diagnosed in 1960 with thyroid cancer she underwent two operations to remove the disease, and defied doctor’s orders to not have any more children by producing two in the years that followed. In 2016, she was diagnosed with late-stage ovarian cancer, and underwent six rounds of chemotherapy and major surgery.
In 1963, Elaine inherited her beloved grandparents’ home and the family returned to 727 Prospect Avenue, embarking on a grand mid-century modern renovation of the 1920’s Georgian-style house. She lived there for the next 45 years, departing reluctantly at the insistence of her children when, at age 89, she was diagnosed with a vascular dementia syndrome. In spite of this, she held onto her keen wit, sharp intellect, graciousness, and uproarious sense of humor until nearly the very last of her days.
Elaine leaves her six children, Mary and Sarah, both of New York City, Henry of Kingston NY, Benjamin (Susan Cohen) of Belmont MA, Alexander of New Britain CT and Jeremiah (Sheila Vickers) of South Portland ME; six grandchildren, Pleasance (Mel Silicki), Jeremy, Henry (Lesli), Elise (Aaron Sultan), Raymond and Asa and three great-grandchildren. She also was close to her brother’s children, David Title, Diane Harris and Betty Feigenbaum, their spouses and children.
A graveside service will be held on Sunday, June 26 at 11:00 AM at the Congregation Beth Israel Cemetery, 119 Affleck Street, Hartford. Please contact Weinstein Mortuary for further information.
ET was a fierce advocate for many causes. The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, donations be directed to the Girl Scouts of Connecticut, the Charter Oak Temple Cultural Center or the Elizabeth Park Conservancy.