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Elizabeth Levy (94) died peacefully on August 20, 2023, filled with faith, and surrounded by love at the Mercy House in Endicott, NY. She was predeceased by her husband, Bernard Levy (died 2014), daughters Rebecca, infant Jessica, granddaughter Megan Swift, sister Bernice, brothers Paul, Frank, Roy, and Fred, and parents Ella and John Ernst. She is survived by her daughters Laura Swift (Doug), Michele Braco, Pam Ludwig (Jon), Sara Levy, Jody Hafey (Stephan Boecker), Rachel Reese, Kirsten Marella (Bill) and sons-in-law Mark Roth and Richard Braco. Also surviving are her 16 grandchildren: Amy Levy (John), Leah Struck (Jesse), Peter Ludwig (Brie), David Ludwig (Shannon), Raquel Swift, Rebecca, Lizzy and Billy Marella, Jessica Kawamura (Colton), Alana and Ben Reese, Zachary Roth (Hollie), Marin and Ella Braco, Claire Nassif, Anna Nassif-Richardson (Austin); 15 great-grandchildren: Kellie Braco, Amanda Benjamin (Brandon), Maya, Nate, Isabella, Theo, and Magnolia Ludwig, Annie, Lucy, and Clara Struck, Rho, Zeta, and Eby Kawamura, Lucian Roth, and Zayden Reese; and 4 great-great-grandchildren: Dominic, Lance, Jake, and Connor Benjamin.
Born Elizabeth Louise Ernst, nicknamed Lizzy Lousy Barbara Pole Ernst, and called Betty, she was born a farm girl but had other aspirations. She wanted to go to college, marry an English professor, and have 7 boys. Studying English literature at the University of Iowa, she met Bernie Levy, and when he said he wanted to be an English professor she promised him she would put him through school. They got married and she began work as a lab technician to support their growing family (there were 5 daughters born before Bernie completed his PhD). She was no longer Betty but had transformed into Beth. Beth loved her Berkeley years, attending Pete Seeger and Woody Guthrie concerts, cooking 7-course Chinese meals for Bernie’s colleagues in a 2-bedroom apartment served buffet-style on an ironing board, and enjoying her work at the Children’s Hospital. She was a wonder in the lab and loved supporting the family as Bernie pursued his doctorate. These were years she was very proud of.
Over the years she provided her daughters with endless opportunities for creativity. She loved holiday traditions and created many of her own, including the much-cherished Epiphany Party where children from the neighborhood would come to reenact the Epiphany story as a play, beginning with Adam and Eve being tempted by the devil and ending with King Herod being poisoned by his wife. Easter preparations involved a season of egg decorating starting with hand decorating blown out eggs and progressing to hard-boiled dyed eggs for the big egg hunt on Easter Sunday when children won a prize for finding the Alleluia and Boobie eggs. Birthday parties were wildly creative, always themed with wonderful cakes and often involving costumes. Advent season had its own traditions, including an advent wreath with an empty manger for each of her daughters. When a child did a good deed, they could put a piece of yarn in the manger to make the bed soft for Baby Jesus. After their children grew up, Beth and Bernie became avid European travelers, lured by Bernie’s love for medieval history and a shared passion for Catholicism. Living their dream of steeping themselves in foreign culture, they enjoyed the beauty of ancient architecture and churches and all the adventures along the way. Beth loved cooking and was a natural gourmet chef, rarely sticking to a recipe. This led her to take over the kitchen when her daughter Becky opened the Copper Cricket Café in Binghamton, NY. Becky made the desserts and Beth made the entrees. She also couldn’t resist bringing her antique hat collection in for patrons to wear during dinner, adding a dimension of fun into Cricket dining that made for great photos and memories.
Her faith, love, creativity, and energy knew no bounds. After her daughter Becky died, she spent many years as a hospice volunteer where she was often called upon to spend the last hours with a dying patient. Beth loved deeply all her life. As her body weakened, her spirit grew, and she was filled with the light and love of God and was much loved by all who met her.In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in Beth’s memory to Mercy House of the Southern Tier. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated on Saturday, August 26, at 10:00 AM at St Thomas Aquinas Church in Binghamton. Inurnment will be in Spring Forest Cemetery immediately following Mass. The family will receive friends on Friday, August 25, from 4 to 7 PM at Bednarsky Funeral Home, 96 Glenwood Ave, Binghamton.