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Elaine Gerber

Leading figure in Glasgow's Jewish community and founding member of the Tron An appreciation

Leading figure in Glasgow's Jewish community and founding member of the Tron An appreciation

Born: February 20, 1916 Died: May 16, 2014

Elaine Gerber, who has died aged 98 (unexpectedly to those of us who half believed she was immortal) always maintained, when asked by her doctor what she owed her good health and longevity to, that it was her five cigarettes a day. This remark typifies her mischievous sense of humour, when set in the context of the strict self-discipline she exercised in most other areas of her life.

While not a public figure, she was well known in the Jewish Community of Glasgow and, although she played no role in charitable committees, she contributed generously to good causes in the wider community.

Her first concern was always with her family, her parents and siblings and when she married Joe Gerber, his four younger brothers and his sister, together with Joe's parents, formed the basis of her extended family.

During the first years of their marriage, Joe's passionate interest was bridge which he played competitively at national level, while she joined the Abrom Greenbaum Players, a well-known amateur dramatic society, thus developing her love for the theatre, and giving herself an interest outside the domestic sphere.

Her sons, Michael and Bernard, remember vividly their mother pacing up and down as she learned her words for whatever role she was currently playing.

When Joe's commitment to competitive bridge abated, encouraged by Elaine he began to interest himself in the small theatre clubs which were springing up in the 1960s and it is thanks to her wholehearted support and his guiding hand that the Traverse in Edinburgh put its finances in order and the Tron in Glasgow came into being with Joe and Elaine as founder members.

While it is certainly the case that she had her favourites among the 20th century playwrights, she never missed an opportunity to see the latest plays and support the theatre.

She was a voracious reader - all was grist to her mill - but could not abide incorrect English usage. Any book she read was annotated with corrections in the margins of egregious error. So wide was her interest that even modern idioms came in for scrutiny including those involving the f-word - she would muse on its exact grammatical function.

Perhaps what we shall all remember most is her steadfastness in friendship. She was a true friend, a wise listener full of good counsel and we shall above all miss her sense of humour, her intelligent analysis of plot, her love of poetry and optimistic appreciation of the world around her.

She had a long life, lived with great energy until the last moment.

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