Eileen Hecht Levy, 93, a native of London’s East End who as a child was shipped from home along with thousands of other children to reside in countryside foster homes to avoid the relentless of Nazi bombing of London, and subsequently brought a buoyant, irrepressible spirit and optimistic, upbeat cheer to wherever she found herself, including most recently over two decades as an art teacher and devoted friend of the Falls Church News-Press, died early Saturday morning after a lengthy illness.
Levy was a frequent contributor to the News-Press, most recently providing children’s weekly Scalawag cartoons, and riding in many a News-Press entry in Falls Church Memorial Day parades and D.C. Pride parades, where she was an automatic magnetic hit with many hundreds along the parade route who rushed to her car side to greet and engage in her welcoming embraces.
Her stories of the struggles of a Jewish girl to survive and endure during the years of England’s war against the Nazis were an enduring source of inspiration to all who knew her. She came to America in the late 1940s to marry an American GI, Arnold Schollnick, and raise three children in Rochester, New York — Stephen, Gary and Janine. Later, she married a storied ophthalmologist, Dr; Chauncey Levy.
In the mid 1990s she moved to F.C. to be near her daughter, an attorney who at the time was married to News-Press owner Nicholas Benton, and who has remained a loyal friend of Benton and the paper.
Levy taught many art classes for the F.C. Department of Recreation and Parks and local entities such as the Creative Cauldron and had many colorful floral entries in local art shows. In declining health in her last years, she was under the care of her faithful daughter Janine and pup, Lili.
Comments posted online from among her many friends in F.C. included the following:
She was so vibrant (Leslie Byrne). What a life and what a legacy! (Ben Finzel) She was such a loving spitfire! (Sally Cole) The world is a smaller place with the passing of Eileen. What a lady! (Gordon Theisz) She always greeted me with, “How is my handsome man?” and then a nice hug. She was pure sunlight. (Jon Wiant)
She was an incredible person, I could talk with her for hours. (Jody Acosta) She will be missed by many in different worlds. (Shaun VanSteyn) She was so much fun and always up for adventure. I’m filled with great memories that I’ll cherish (and laugh at) forever. (Stacy Hennessey) She was a treasure. (Steven Gregory Smith.)
She had an artist’s soul and appreciated beauty so deeply. (Donna Englander) The joys she gave through her immense and continuous kindness! I will forever be grateful for how she influenced me through her insights and beautiful aura. (Debra Z. Roth) She was a great lady. (Steven A. Rogers)
A celebration of her life will be held this Sunday, Feb. 19, at the F.C. Art Gallery, 700-B W. Broad St., Falls Church, at 5 p.m.