Elliot N. Schubert

He taught us wonder, love, laughter, and tears. His fondest wish was that humanity learn to live in peace. May he continue to spread joy whever he goes. For information on how you can participate in a Zoom celebration of the life of Elliot Schubert from 9 to 11 a.m. on Sunday, May 15, 2022, please contact Ken Schubert at kenschubert02@gmail.com.

Elliot Schubert was an enormously complex person who experienced, participated in, and wrote about, a century of transformation and turmoil but who ultimately had a simple heart. He was born in the aftermath of World War I, during which his father had sent an anguished letter to his wife from the trenches, and he died while witnessing the world enter a fateful new epoch. What was most striking about Elliot’s personality and character was his total unpretentiousness. He could be angry, impatient, and stubborn like the rest of us, but he never put on airs or tried to be somebody he wasn’t. He was always observing his surroundings and focusing on the needs and feelings of others. And that’s the main reason for his long and exceptionally productive life. He never lost his curiosity about what was going to happen tomorrow. And he thought the jury was out on the meaning of life, time, love, forgiveness, altruism and free will, the great themes that animate the human condition. All of which meant that he was willing to accept any changes and limitations that he encountered as he grew older because his gaze never wavered from life, the biggest prize and privilege of all, as it constantly unveils new wonders (and horrors) for us to behold.

The foundation of Elliot’s worldview was his belief in family. He had benefited in his childhood from a supportive extended family, including a kindly grandfather who could neither hear nor speak, even when his parents lacked the skills to fully nurture him. His father was emotionally unable to express his love in words, and Elliot always longed for what had been unfulfilled in that relationship. Still, he once revealed that he talked to, and drew comfort from, his father’s spirit every day for the rest of his life.

Elliot was extremely shy until his later years and often stated that he was unable to express his emotions. After retirement, he discovered through writing and publishing fiction and autobiography, as well as through the support he received from his family and caregivers, that he had deep access to his feelings and was capable of expressing them both eloquently and poignantly. Meanwhile, his wry sense of humor and ironic observations were a source of cheer and inspiration to the people around him.

During the last two years of his life, Elliot’s respiratory problems increasingly limited the scope of his activities. But once again, he embraced that process with extraordinary humility. For the final six months of his life, he had a tracheostomy and was ultimately on a ventilator. Even those changes he accepted with grace, attentiveness and empathy for the nurses and other professionals who cared for him. One of his sons monitored him 24/7 on Zoom, and, though he was unable to speak at that point, Elliot would frequently smile, wave, and mouth the words that he loved him. He was physically comfortable and clearly at peace, but above all he continued to display the joy and reverence for life that had always been at the core of his being and his strivings on this earth. May he continue to spread peace wherever he is.

VOL. 112, NO. 16 - April 20, 2022

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