Elaine Jeanette Amoruso

AmorusoElaine Jeanette Amoruso, 93, on February 6, 2019, in Berkeley, Calif. Elaine was born on January 26, 1926, in Mount Vernon, N.Y., to Dominick Amoruso and Henrietta Nardozzi. Elaine attended Mount Vernon public schools, then a small Catholic girls college run by Sisters of Divine Compassion. She majored in English and minored in history. Following graduation, Elaine taught ninth grade English at St. Gabriel High School in New Rochelle, N.Y.

Elaine assumed responsibility for supporting her mother and younger sister following the death of her father in 1950. She was employed by the Bursar’s Office at Columbia University. Elaine’s mother died in 1960. In 1963, Elaine was admitted to the graduate division of the University of California, Berkeley. While living at International House during her first year, Elaine befriended a Kenyan woman who had a Quaker background.

Elaine had been a devout Catholic until she experienced a crisis of faith sometime around 1967. Remembering her friend’s description of Quakers, Elaine worked up the courage to visit Berkeley (Calif.) Meeting. She found what she was looking for, and was connected to the meeting until her death.

At UC Berkeley, Elaine took a Beowulf class taught by Alain Renoir, a grandson of the painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir. After reading a paper she had written for the class, he invited her to pursue a doctorate in comparative literature. Although Elaine enjoyed graduate school, after several years she decided not to complete her doctorate. She left UC Berkeley with a master’s in comparative literature. After working at the Asia Foundation and teaching at Diablo Valley College, Elaine took a position with a law firm in San Francisco, Calif. She met Japanese American artist Hisako Hibi and art teacher Ann O’Hanlon, founder of the Sight and Insight Art Center, and was close to both for many years. Through them she discovered a passion for art. When Elaine retired at 76 due to illness, she painted as a meditation practice. Some of her paintings took up to a year to complete. She told friends that in the stillness of being, she came closer to the essence of her own being. In her last years, Elaine was unable to continue painting due to increasing disability and loss of memory.

She moved into Redwood Gardens, a housing complex for seniors and people with disabilities in Berkeley. Many members and attenders of Berkeley Meeting had great affection for Elaine, and regularly visited during her final years. Elaine was always cheerful and attentive.

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