In Memory: Malvina Douglas

My great aunt died yesterday at 1:00am localtime.  Born Malvina Simon, my aunt Mal was a force to be reckoned with.  A brilliant woman, she met her husband Kenneth at the University of Chicago, and it was love at first sight. He was a well regarded translator of books and poetry critic.

They married relatively late in life, and did not have chidren.  This turned out to be somewhat fortunate, as he was killed in a freak accident, when a curtain rod fell from an apartment in New York City, where they lived.  Even more freakish, the curtain rod belonged to former governor Averell Hariman.  (On that same day, my younger sister was running a high temperature, and my next door neighbor had just broken my brother’s arm.  It was a truly freakish day.)

My aunt settled into a 5th avenue apartment on Museum Mile, after having convalesced at the home of friends in England.  In a way, tragedy followed her life.  In the early 1980s, her younger brother had a stroke, and it fell to her to manage his care.  Even in this a story can be told.  Malvina found a caregiver who was remarkable, and dealt with my great uncle’s every need.  This woman, Priscilla, passed away from a long illness on the same day her charge died.

She too suffered from ailments.  Her life was probably shortened by contaminated drug packaging.  But even then she took the time to write about her brother and Priscilla.

Malvina is survived by a three nephews, a niece, two great nephews, two great nieces, and her older brother, my grandfather.

We will all miss her.

7 thoughts on “In Memory: Malvina Douglas”

  1. I was at Mal’s funeral. I”m her first cousin. Her mom and my father were siblings. I enjoyed your info on Mal. My maiden name is Harriet Indig. I am now Harriet Hammerstein.
    I just discovered that Mal’s book is now a screen play. She told me that she was working on this story. It’s called Pricilla’s Story. Look on this web site and click on Priscilla’s Story.
    http://www.newdramatists.org/catherine_filloux.htm
    The Rabbi who presided over the funeral suggested that your Uncle Jody create a web site about Mal. Perhaps that would be a good idea.

  2. hrhammer Says: Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    December 16th, 2008 at 9:29 am

    I was at Mal’s funeral. I”m her first cousin. Her mom and my father were siblings. I enjoyed your info on Mal. My maiden name is Harriet Indig. I am now Harriet Hammerstein.
    I just discovered that Mal’s book is now a screen play. She told me that she was working on this story. It’s called Pricilla’s Story. Look on this web site and click on Priscilla’s Story.
    http://www.newdramatists.org/catherine_filloux.htm
    The Rabbi who presided over the funeral suggested that your Uncle Jody create a web site about Mal. Perhaps that would be a good idea.

    1. Distantly, yes. Catherine, the day your grandfather died was one of the worst days not just of Malvina’s life, but of my mother’s life, as it happens, and his death was only a part of that day. I didn’t really know him well, but I knew her well, and there are other people who knew both of them together well. I am specifically thinking of Margaret Clapham. The Claphams were friends of your grandfather and Malvina from England. She is a remarkable woman in her own right, having been part of the Kindertransport. When Kenneth died, Margaret and her husband invited Malvina to convalesce in England (in Kent), which she did.

  3. Dear Eliot, I knew Malvina very well. She was a close friend of my mother’s from work. I am so sorry to hear of her passing. You have my email; send me yours and I will write more. My condolences to your family. Peggy

  4. Dear Eliot,
    I am sorry to hear this.
    I knew Malvina very well. She was a close friend of my mother’s. They knew each other from work. You have my email; send me yours and I can tell you more.
    My condolences to your family.
    Peggy

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