Gertrude Horowitz Shavin, 99, passed away in her home in Leesburg, Va., on Friday, May 15, 2020.
Born in Manhattan, NY, on April 16, 1921, her life was marked by strength of character and an unflappable determination to stay true to her values. She was the first of her family to graduate from college. She attended Hunter College and then got an advanced degree from Columbia University. She was fond of telling the story that her advisor was not pleased with her Master’s thesis that showed how teacher perceptions, based on race, influenced student test outcomes. This commitment to social justice and activism remained true throughout her life.
In 1948 she married her soulmate, Seamour, and moved to Chattanooga. The young couple sought out Frank Lloyd Wright to design a house that became a reflection of their love and life together. There they raised three children and hosted the grandchildren during school breaks. The importance of family was clear in all that they did.
In addition to being a mother and wife, Gerte supported Seamour in his business and participated with him in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. Together they were involved with Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks at Highlander Center in 1957. Bomb threats against her home and family failed to shake her determination. A President of the League of Women Voters, the head of Chattanooga’s Presidential campaigns for Eugene McCarthy and for George McGovern, she stood as an Elector for LaRouche in every one of his Presidential campaigns, from 1976 to 2004.
They enjoyed close, long-term friendships and frequently hosted gatherings with friends at the house, characterized by good food, lively conversation, and fun. After their children became adults, they took the time to travel abroad. Over the years they traveled to Mexico, Israel, Italy, France, India and Egypt.
Despite significant illnesses, Gerte did not waiver from her passions. Some years after Seamour’s death she moved to Leesberg, VA to live with her son, David, where she remained active. She was a daily presence in the LaRouche PAC where she would listen in on the activity of young people working to make the world a better place. She loved sharing her lived stories, which brought history to life for the volunteers at the office. Her modesty, her grace, her passionate love of the human race, and her stubborn optimism radiated amongst all the volunteers, up until two months ago – when only a pandemic could chase her out of the office.
Gerte lived a long life, holding steadfast to her principles. She often quoted the last two lines of Keats’ Ode on a Grecian Urn: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”
Gerte survived her five sisters and beloved husband. She is survived by her three children and their spouses, Karen Shavin and Jeff Crabtree, David and Nancy Shavin, and Eliot Shavin and Lori Senasac, as well as her granddaughters Lauren Crabtree, Anna Shavin, and Hanna Senasac Shavin, grandsons Seth Crabtree and Zachary Crabtree, great-granddaughters Ruth and Sarah Case, great grandsons Isaac and Asher Martinson.
She will be buried alongside her husband, in the Shaari Zion Cemetery/Workmen’s Circle Cemetery. A memorial service will be held at a later date. In lieu of flowers, you can memorialize her life by living a life of truth and beauty.