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Anne Sokolow Levine

18-Aug-1946 to 17-Jan-2021


Anne Sokolow Levine, 74, died on January 17, 2021, at her Memory Care Facility in Belmont California due to complications from COVID-19. 

Anne was born on August 18, 1946, in San Francisco to Dr. Maurice and Ethel Sokolow. 

She was a 4th generation San Franciscan and descendant of the Fleishhacker and Koshland pioneer families of the City.

Anne received her B.A. from UC Berkeley and later went on to obtain a PhD in Special Education in a combined program from S.F. State and UC Berkeley. 

Anne’s first love was art and design.  She had a desktop publishing business and also did art therapy with anybody and everybody she met. 

Anne was also an avid horse lover who spent a number of idyllic summers riding her horse, Shorty, on her family’s ranch in Wyoming.

She married Dr. Peter Levine in 1980 and then raised their two children, Josh and Sara, in their home in Berkeley where she enjoyed many wonderful years.

Anne was always kind and sparkly, even as dementia robbed her of some of that spark in her later years.

Anne is survived by her loving family: her husband, Peter, her children, Josh and Sara, her daughter-in-law, Christa, her grandchildren, Zach and Tyler, and her sister Gail.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her memory.  Details below.

Donations in Anne's Memory

As many of you know, Anne battled dementia over the last 20 years of her life.  In her latter years, it robbed her of many of life's joys, just as it had done to her Grandmother.  You can honor Anne's memory by donating to the Alzheimers Association through her tribute page to help stop this disease for future generations.

Final Resting Place

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Anne will be buried at Home of Peace Cemetery just south of San Francisco in Colma.  She will lay in rest by her father Maurice, her mother Ethel, her Aunt Josie, and her sister Jane, whom she loved so much.

Funeral and Celebration of Life

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Her funeral will be held on Friday, January 22.  Unfortunately due to COVID-19 restrictions the funeral will be extremely limited in attendance. 

However, once the COVID-19 vaccine is widely administered, likely in Summer 2021, we will reach out to Anne's family and friends for a celebration of life.  Details will be forthcoming as more information becomes available about vaccine availability timeframe.



Peter's Eulogy

Thank you to all who are here. The people Anne most loved.

It’s awful losing someone you’ve loved, but COVID makes it so much more painful. We wish we could’ve been with Anne when she got sick. We wish we could all hug each other now. But, we are here and we’re here to remember and celebrate Anne.

I’ve thought a lot about what I wanted to say today and I realized that I wanted to remember and talk about the Anne who was. Who she was before dementia took away the best parts of her.

When I looked at some of the pictures of Anne on Josh’s website (joshal.com, by the way) it brought back those memories of Anne. The Anne I met and fell in love with. And, this is what I remember.

Anne was:
Smart. Listen, who gets 3 Masters and a PhD? 

She was Sparkly. She could light up a room.

Anne also could be funny. I remember, at our wedding, when our friend Bart came up to Anne and said that he didn’t know what to say to her. Then, she said, “You say, ‘It’s a lovely wedding and you’re a beautiful bride.’” and then, she smiled, and walked away.

Anne was also very kind. When Jane was dying in Houston, Anne spent untold hours with her and Jane told Anne, that she thought that Anne was the most exquisitely kind person she’d ever known.

Anne was loving to so many: Me, Sara, Josh, Lulu, Chandra, Linda, Brynn, Gail and, probably most of all, Shorty…I mean Jane.

She was also very hardworking. In 1982, she handled: taking care of 1 y/o Josh, remodeling our Yosemite Rd. home, and completing a PhD. All I was doing was going to work. Then I’d come home to find out that she’d completed more work on the house, had nearly finished her dissertation and cared for Josh, while also assessing his development...She did Bayley developmental assessments on both Josh and Sara. I was afraid to say what I’d done that day at work because it paled in comparison.

But, when I think of Anne and who she was, most of all, Anne was creative. Her art was wonderful and both Josh, but especially Sara got to share art projects and learn to love art. I was lost when it came to art, but she even got me to do some artwork through scribble drawings. Sara, on the other hand, has loved doing art for years, whether it’s making her Zines, creating pictures like the one here of Anne, or doodling when she’s bored at school meetings.

Anne’s photography was terrific. She was the editor of her school yearbook. She took pictures for years. We now have over 40 albums of her pictures at the house. Josh is carrying on that love himself and is a very good photographer...again, just check joshal.com

When the Mac came out, Anne poured herself into it. She dragged me along, but while I did it hesitantly, she devoured every bit of information she could find. She eventually turned that passion into her desktop publishing business, Design Byline.

Anne also made it a point to learn about Judaism even though she had no training in it from her childhood. She did that for me and for the kids. Anne and I took courses together and she agreed to study Judaism in depth with an Orthodox Rabbi who we met in one of our courses. She also masterfully put together the celebrations for both Sara’s Bat Mitzvah and Josh’s Bar Mitzvah...although Sara is still pissed that she didn’t have a better party.

Anne, singlehandedly, created The Learning Connection in 1989. She turned our house into a learning salon where we had lectures with amazing discussions every other month for 10 years. It was a place where we had, among others, a Harvard professor, the Berkeley Mayor, and a Snake Charmer. And, when Anne felt that her memory prevented her from continuing to run TLC in 1999, others tried to take it over. They had one meeting and then ended it because it was too hard to continue what Anne had been doing for 10 years.

Anne did all these things while still being available to the kids. And, Anne was someone that I could rely on to be there for me and the kids when we needed her.

Anne also, through many cold calls, put together a family tree that was 15 pages long and that was only of her Dad’s family. It was through that research that we connected with Linda, which led to a friendship and holiday celebrations that we enjoyed for many years.

Now listen, Anne wasn’t perfect. She could be a bit stubborn...very stubborn. She didn’t cook a lot, though, truthfully, I liked eating out so much, that I didn’t care. How Sara and Josh got to be good cooks is beyond me? Anne could also be a tad competitive, especially at ping pong, cards and dominos. Lulu and Brynn know what I mean. Even in the last few years, Anne still wanted to beat Lulu and would drop F-bombs when Lulu would be beating her. Of course, Lulu was just as competitive, so maybe that trait is a draw.

Even though Anne wasn’t perfect, she was certainly perfect enough. She was wonderful in so many ways. Just putting my thoughts down about her in writing for this day has helped bring back the memory of the incredible person that she was. I’m so sorry that Christa, Zach and Tyler didn’t get to know that Anne.

I don’t really want to remember much of the last few years because Anne wasn’t Anne anymore. Dementia is an awful illness. It saps you of who you are, but I knew who Anne really was and I’ve loved her and I miss her. I miss that Anne.

The Meaning of Loss

Anne Levine 

February 7, 1991

What do a traffic jam,
Children’s silly jokes,
And the emptiness of loss
have in common?

Time and Space.
That’s a lot
And, yet, means nothing.

Is there supposed to be

Or, just degrees of

Or, is it connectedness
That underlies or,
Embodies Meaning?

Where does loss fit
in the equation of Life?

Art and other creative forms
of self-expression,
of inner truth,
of loss of self
Are the way
to relieve the pain of loss
to speak to the universe
to listen to your inner voice.

Construct, create, cathart.

Josh's Eulogy

When I was a small child my mother took me to a community theatre play. I don’t remember what the play was, but I thought the lead actress, who couldn’t have been more than 16, was wonderful and I told my mom that. After the play she insisted that we find that girl and that I told the actress what I had told my mom. Embarrassed, I said I didn’t want to, and tried to make excuses not to talk to her. My mom was gentle, yet firm and guided me over to the actress, who was waving to the departing crowd. I summoned my courage and, through blushing cheeks, told her that I thought she was amazing. As I half looked away, being sure that she would chid me for making such a silly comment, I saw her cheeks turn an even brighter shade of crimson than my own and a genuine beaming smile form across her lips. Slowly I stood more upright, faced her, relaxed, and grinned right back. As I walked away holding my mom’s hand, looking up at her and her smiling knowingly down on me, I felt lighter and stronger. The interaction was brief, but it planted seeds of kindness, and the confidence to speak my truth. That’s who my mom was: kind and unabashed.

My mom was not perfect. She could be pushy, stubborn, and at times, downright embarrassing. She was a unique mix of a high society upbringing, playfulness, Schwabacher piss and vinegar, intensity, introspection, organizational perfectionism, humility, but above all else love and kindness. She was quick to smile, with an infectious grin. She was blessed with the rare ability not to care what others thought about her. She knew who she was and didn’t give a damn if you approved or not.

My perception of my mom comes from my earlier childhood and teenage memories, memories of her deteriorating later years, and a kaleidoscope of warm vignettes and emotions from friends and family. These memories and stories piece together who my mom is like a beautiful patchwork quilt which shimmers differently from every angle. Still, the view is not as clear as I would like it to be and I yearn for more. I wish I could have seen my mom through my adult eyes without the taint of dementia. I think it would have recast and crystalized how I really knew this amazing woman.

Twenty four years ago is when I first noticed mom’s decline. It was 1997, my sophomore year of highschool. I had asked mom for help on a book analysis paper. Mom asked me to explain the book to her so that she could help. She had trouble following the plot and in the end pushed me to basically write the cliff notes for the book, insisting that analysis didn’t make sense when it lacked context. It seemed odd, but I went along with it. My suspicions were confirmed when I got my grades for the paper. That’s when I realized that something was wrong with my mom’s ability to grasp concepts.

I didn’t act with sympathy, as I would in later years, but rather with a dismissiveness; brushing her ideas and wisdom alike aside. It was nothing overt, but I can only imagine the hurt caused by the cumulative weight of these small moments coupled with her increasing awareness of what she would later call her “rotting brain.”

It doesn’t seem fair that so many years of her life were muted and diminished. But, as my mom used to say, “life’s tough and then you die.” Ironic words, but mom would have wanted us to make space for laughter even in the face of deep sadness. She had many other sayings like, “if you don’t ask the answer’s ‘no’” and “if you’ve got something nice to say, say it; you might make someone’s day.” I used to think of mom’s home-grown proverbs as her just being kookie. But, as I reflect back, I realize how much wisdom her sayings had, how she lived by them even as she battled dementia, and how much those words and her example have positively shaped the person that I am today.

In the days leading up to my last real conversation with mom before she was incapacitated with COVID, I had been in our home in Berkeley hunched over a tripod for hours on end, taking photos of the scores of photo albums that she had meticulously constructed over the years. I was digitizing them, organizing them, in an effort to preserve her memory and my childhood. As my neck ached, I realized that right behind me was her chair and computer where she strained for hours at a time crafting newsletters, pamphlets, and logos and eventually herniating a disk in her neck. I felt her presence behind me driving me forward and I felt closer to her than I had in years. I saw myself through her eyes. I saw her drive, grit, and determination in me. I felt her need to create order from chaos and make it beautiful and perfect. Through overlaid vision we saw the beauty in the composition of a single photograph and the sweeping arc of photos that weave a lifetime together.

I started with photos from the 1940’s, reliving mom’s life one image at a time. As I closed in on 2002, when I started my own digital photo compendium, I felt a sense of continuity of self and connection to my mom and to her past. A sense of understanding and a sense of appreciation for who she was, and who she helped me become. This is what I spoke to my mom about in my last dialogue with her. I was able to share my excitement, my genuine revelation of how much a part of me she was. Though she could not grasp all that I was saying, she sensed my enthusiasm and my passion and echoed it with kindness, warmth, and love. Her memory lives on not just in those photos, but in all of us and all of the many lives she has touched.

I love you mom. May you bring as much joy and kindness to the souls in the afterlife as you have done here on earth.

Sara's Eulogy

Mom, I know you’d tell me to write out my feelings in a poem, rhyming in couplets, but a journal entry is more my speed. And you always told me to follow my heart, so here we go.

On a whim the other day I drove to the house, in my onesie, just to pick up a couple things. It turned into much more. I started going through some of mom’s belongings and got lost in looking through her art from years past. It was so beautiful looking back and seeing it all from a new lens. I was blown away by some of the messages in her scribble drawings about identity and values and taking off your mask (metaphorically— fuck COVID...), following your own path, and the overwhelming amount of love in it all.

I’ve spent a lot of years focused on the present and future with mom, grappling with the pain of her decline. I’d almost forgotten what it felt like for her to take care of me and not the other way around. In exploring her art I started to remember who she was at her core and felt so much deep love and care. She was insightful and wise and nurturing, and also a total weirdo. There are so many parts of myself that wouldn’t exist without her influence— my playful silliness, my creativity, my openness and sensitivity, my love of nature, my love of travel, my stubborn boldness, my unbalanced amount of swearing…

In looking through all these drawings and reflecting, I am reminded that all that that is left is love. Pure love. Possibly a little smothery love, but true, good love.

I am so grateful for everything that mom was, everything she will continue to be in my heart, and everything I will continue to learn about and from her. I will forever be grateful that she never got to the point where she didn’t know who I was, that she is no longer suffering, and that she was my mom.

I love you so, so much, Mama. ❤️

Christa's Eulogy

I met Anne in 2007. I didn’t get the chance to know her as intimately as I would have liked, as her memory had already started to decline, but she did her best at making me feel like one of the family. As I look back on the years that we had together, and with the addition of my own two children, I feel a connection to her as a mother. I see all the wonderful gifts she has given to Josh and Sara - kindness, strength, courage and playfulness. Her love for them was boundless and every time she saw them, or heard from them, she would light up. They were her everything. Since I am not great with words, I wanted to share this poem, which expresses what I think to be true: Anne’s greatest gift to this world was Josh and Sara. She Will Always be by Lois Clark:

I’m sure that each day in one way or another, each child gently enters the mind of their mother. No matter if they are beside her or far, she will pray for their safety wherever they are.

She has given them life and has given them love, and her heart holds them close as a hand in a glove. No matter their problems, no matter how wild, she will always have love in her heart for her child.

As time carries on and she watches them grow, she will do all she can to make sure they know, each one must decide what they choose to achieve, and follow the way of things they believe.

She’ll guide them and teach them through days of their youth, to be independent and always speak truth. She will sacrifice much yet she’ll never complain in her quest for her children, their dreams to attain.

Though her strength sometimes waver, her patience be tried, she will give it her all, setting her wants aside. And when they are grown and they fly from the nest she knows even then she cannot stop to rest.

For no matter how high or how far they may fly, they will still be the twinkle that shines in her eye. Each one is a jewel that she holds in her heart, that she's cared for and comforted right from the start.

So she’ll still carry on in her vigilant way, to care and to pray for her children each day. She’s the rock that they lean on, the root of their Tree and no matter what happens, She always will be.

Lulu's Eulogy: "Anne Sokolow Levine, My Lifelong Friend"

Anne and I became friends in kindergarten at the Katherine Delmar Burke school for young ladies. She was five. I was four. She was repeating kindergarten because she told Miss Katherine, the head mistress, that her kindergarten “stunk to high heaven.” I guess they thought that would tone her down. They were wrong and am I ever glad.

Anne was one of the strongest women I ever met. If she challenged you to an arm wrestling match, you’d know what I mean. But more than physical strength, she had intestinal fortitude. She knew what was right and what was wrong and let you know in no uncertain terms when you were wrong. She was exuberant in her bossiness, being convinced that she knew best. And yet she was loving and kind, especially to those who suffered or were in need.

Anne was my champion. She gave my father a piece of her mind when he belittled me or was mean, which was all the time. “You can’t treat my friend that way!!” she’d chide him. He called her the Shaheiza and grew to love her spunk over the years. And, of course, my mother adored her, partly because my mom was a snob and she appreciated the fact that Anne came from Jewish aristocracy. The fact that the Koshlands, Sterns, and Schwabachers were prominent forces in the establishment of San Francisco culture was not lost on my mom. But she appreciated Anne’s outspokenness and strength of character.

Anne was my most wonderful playmate. She was creative, exuberant, curious, and smart. When we were in our “Horse Phase”, we’d gallop on our hands and knees around the upstairs den till our knees bled from rug burn. We watched endless hours of T.V. The Lone Ranger’s horse, Silver, was her favorite. Maybe because he was white like her horse, Shorty, who lived on the family ranch in Wyoming. Anne loved Shorty.

We both lived within walking distance of shopping areas and we enjoyed frequenting all of the shops. Of course, Anne’s favorite was always the stationery store. She LOVED all things that helped you keep organized. Her grandfather owned Schwabacher-Frey, an enormous stationery store on Market Street. We’d take the muni down and spend eons going through all of the items, pens, paper clips, a multitude of gadgets. She was in heaven.

Summers, our moms would get us out of the City. Ethel would take a house in Atherton and we’d spend days at the Circus Club swimming and bouncing on the trampoline. At night we’d play games, and after going to bed we’d play “My mother went on a trip and in her suit case she’d pack…” which ironically was a memory game. My mom would take us to Carmel where we’d haunt the shops on Ocean Avenue and play in the surf. Anne swears I saved her from drowning when she got rolled one time. I didn’t think so. All I did was reach out my hand to grab her.

And, of course, we played cards. Endless games of cards. She was brutal at War, a game that involved slapping certain cards when they turned up. Anne took great delight in slapping my hands. Did I say she taught me to be competitive? I blame it all on her. Over the years we graduated to more complicated card games. When we roomed together at Oregon, we played Canasta. I would drive her crazy because I never put my melds down until I went out on her. It made me very happy to beat Anne at Canasta.

When we were in dancing school, I became wildly boy crazy. I tried to hang with the popular girls, but remained on the fringe. Anne could care less about popularity. She valued people of substance, who discussed ideas and were down to earth. When I rushed for a sorority in college, she was horrified. “They won’t let you run barefoot over the grass!!!” she protested.

Anne’s family moved to London for Sokie’s sabbatical in Anne’s junior year. There she became a wonderful photographer. She loved documenting things, probably more than making artsy fartsy images. When she came home, she gave me my first 35 millimeter camera. I was pretty dumb about understanding how f16 could be SMALLER than f4 since the number was bigger. She was exasperated, but somehow or other she managed to teach me. Who knew that I would become a photographer too?

When we roomed together at Oregon, we discussed the seven deadly sins and decided, quite accurately that I was gluttony and she was sloth. We survived that year on red licorice vines. She left for Berkeley, to pursue a finer education. By then we’d both become serious students. I’ll never forget the day she telephoned me, still at Oregon, in my sorority house, and read me an editorial from the Daily Cal newspaper. It was all about how vibrant and stimulating Cal was. I applied for a transfer the next day.

Anne had no use for glamor, or trying to gussy herself up. Years ago her Turkish friend, Humi, managed to drag her into the world of style and fashion, but the only proof we have of that brief period is a handful of photographs. Anne preferred comfort over the latest snazzy styles. Her preferred colors being pastel turquoise, lilac, and blue. Not what one would call highly sophisticated fashion colors.

The years tumbled by after college. Anne went to London and UCLA. I went to work, teaching 7th graders English and Social Studies. Anne studied design and designed toys for the blind. I wrote lesson plans. We fell in and out of love, rarely approving of each other’s choices. She drove me crazy with her arrogance over her year of analysis in London. She of course knew everything and was all fixed then. I was struggling, still trying to figure life out. We were in our 20’s. I guess that’s what the 20’s are for.

And then we found husbands and had babies and carried on with life. I dragged her to Quadricep, an exercise class and when we were pregnant together with Josh and Luke, we went to LaMaze, Peter and Doug in tow. Anne went back to school to get her PhD. She was convinced that creativity was not dependent upon IQ. And she was SO right. Howard Gardener, who became a friend, validated Anne’s theory with his Theory of Multiple Intelligences. I think Anne always knew she was wildly creative, but our experience at Burkes defeated her. So much of our learning was by rote rather than problem solving and discovery. I just thought I wasn’t so smart. But Anne was wildly smart in her own way. My husband, who’s really techie, totally admires her brilliance with Page Maker and all things design on the Mac. She really was a trail blazer back then, designing before most people even owned computers.

Anne had a gazillion friends and established the TLC, The Learning Connection, which brought people together to discuss ideas. Howard Gardener even gave a lecture. The speakers came from all sorts of fields and the discussions were lively. She established her successful graphics business, Design By Line but gave it up when she injured her neck. She used to say about the experience, “The doctor slit my throat and broke my neck.”

Our kids grew up and we grew older. Our lives were full and we were busy, but we continued to keep in touch. We’d take long walks at the field on Mosher, circling round and round the track, sharing our joys and hardships.

When Sokie died things began to change. I went over to the Jackson Street house to help Anne pack up and that’s when I first really knew her memory was going. We were up in the attic, going through cupboards and she came across a charm bracelet that had the figure of a wishing well on it. Anne couldn’t remember the word “well”. I had to fight the tears at that moment. My sorrow was immense. My friend, my bright and brilliant, and buoyant friend was losing her mind.

The rest is history, a slow painful decline for Anne. In spite of it all, when she was with me, we were the same old little girls, laughing, singing, and insulting each other. I loved Anne with all my heart. She filled my life with joy and challenge. A lot of who I am is because of Anne. I will ever be grateful to her for introducing me to photography, which feeds my soul today. I am organized because she trained me. I can’t say I’m thrilled about being as competitive as I am, but I’m mostly competitive with myself these days. She taught me compassion and to look out for the underdog. She taught me to be observant, that there was much to see, especially in her beloved MONA, Mother Nature. But mostly, what I think of when I think of our friendship is we had fun. Lots and lots of fun. Anne opened her heart to me and we shared pure love.

A Sonnet for Anne

Photo by Gail, 1959
Sonnet by Lulu, 2003

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Anne's Family Tree

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