Pauline Eunice Levin

SCARBOROUGH and Piermont, N.Y. – Pauline Eunice Levin, 93, passed August 10, 2020, at her home in Scarborough. She was born in Montreal in 1926 to John Harry Mathewson, a celebrated U.S. Naval officer and highway safety engineer, and his wife, Betty, a nurse, teacher and championship girls’ basketball team coach.

As a “Navy brat,” she attended several schools throughout the country, where she earned the reputation of being somewhat rebellious, but also an exceptional student. After World War II she attended the University of Chicago, where she was a campus activist for a variety of social issues. There, she married Julian Lewis, a business school graduate.

After her marriage she and her husband resided briefly in New York City before returning to Chicago, but not before buying a plot of land in Piermont New York, overlooking the Hudson River. Unusual for her times, Pauline labored beside her husband to prepare the site of their planned home and then built it from the bottom up during summers over the next decade, including hand digging ditches and working concrete. She had callouses and muscles to prove it. In 1960, then armed with a teaching certificate, she with the family returned to Piermont and began a 25 year career as an elementary and middle-school teacher. During the 1970s she served six years as president of the South Orangetown School District teacher’s union which she organized into a force to be reckoned with and relentlessly pursued fair pay and benefits for her members. She was unafraid to use hardball tactics and behind-the-scenes negotiations to achieve results; and the teachers of her district even today benefit from her efforts.

Never idle and fiercely American, she was a true servant of her communities. She was a Piermont village board member, a planning board member, a village Trustee and Director of the Youth Advisory Board. She was a town board councilwoman, a NY State Treasurer of the International Women Educators Honor Society, a co-president of her county’s AARP chapter and treasurer of her state chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma Society International (of women educators)(DKG). She was an active member of her church’s congregation and as a monitor of her church’s homeless shelter, she sometimes slept for the night on the church floor with those in her charge. She spent a year in England as a Fulbright Exchange Teacher. Pauline also created a Brownies troop for her daughters’ benefit and served the troop as its Leader. After moving to Scarborough she became interested in preserving the town’s character, particularly that of Pine Point where she was a citizen gadfly whose voice was respected and who prompted lively debate on many issues addressed by the town’s governing bodies.

Above all, apart from being a staunch Democrat, and fabulous cook, Pauline was a mother and grandmother of particular distinction and her children tell endless stories of what she did to enrich their lives both actively and by example. When she remarried to Robert “Bob” (“that’s ‘Bob’ with one ‘O'”) Levin, in 1978, she gained the most committed ally she ever had, protector, counselor, lover and friend; someone who remained so until his death in 2001.

She is survived by three of her children, Gregg, Cheryl and Janine Lewis and three stepchildren, Janet Hawk, Susan Williamson, Robert Levin, and by numerous grandchildren. One of her sons, Julian III, tragically predeceased her early in his life due to bone cancer.

Her entire intent in moving to Scarborough was specifically to make a place of refuge and enjoyment for her family and she was generous and inclusive, especially for her grandchildren, whose lives have been forever enriched by exquisite food, comradery, relaxation, adventure and just the plain fun she dished out in abundance.

A memorial service is contemplated, but for a time and place yet to be determined.

It would honor Pauline if you made a contribution in her name to the NAACP, Emily’s List, NPR, DKG, or any homeless shelter or food bank of your choice. It would further honor her if, as she did, you worked the polls in upcoming elections. She believed the vote was not only a right but a responsibility of all Americans.

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