In Memory: Laura Anne Chamberlin Levy '46
Laura Anne Chamberlin Levy '46 died peacefully on March 6, 2019 at her home in San Francisco's Miraloma Park. She was 94.
Born in Riverside, California, she was the eldest of five siblings born to Joseph Conrad Chamberlin, a Stanford-educated entomologist born and raised in Salt Lake City, and Clara Gladstein Chamberlin, a classical vocalist and Jewish immigrant from Chita, Siberia, who arrived in San Francisco in 1922.
After high school, Laura majored in English at Pacific University. In June 1945, a year shy of graduation, she traveled to San Francisco intending to earn some money before returning to complete her senior year at Pacific. But after deciding to stay, she enrolled at San Francisco State University, where she received her BA in English. There she also met her future husband, Clifford Levy. In 1948 they married.
In the late 1960s, Laura began working for the San Francisco Unified School District as a secretary at various schools and later in the district's main office. After acing the civil service exams, she transferred to the County Clerk's office, finishing her career there in 1987 as an assistant supervising court clerk.
After retiring, Laura began work on Siberian Odyssey. Published in 2005, the book was inspired by stories of her mother Clara's childhood in Siberia. After tape-recording interviews with her mother, she spent 10 years researching 1800's Jewish life in Russia and Siberia.
The book traces the history of her Jewish forebears from Poland and Russia, beginning in 19th century Minsk. There, according to Clara, her ancestor Joseph Sadovitch, a rabbi turned wine clerk, was exiled to Siberia after striking a policeman for doing nothing as passersby looted a burning Jewish home.
She is survived by her sister Alice Lynn, her children Tom, Susan, and Terry, her daughter-in-law Yasmin Anwar, her grandson and several nieces and nephews.