We said good bye to Elena Davis
1915 to 2016
By Shirley Roberts

Published in the Majorca Daily Bulletin
Thursday 7th October 2016

On Thursday 6th October 2016 over fifty people gathered in Soller.  We were following the express wishes of Elena Davis who died a few weeks ago.  Elena was 101 and everyone thought she was good for a few more years.  She was making a great recovery in Juan March hospital and was full of plans to return to her beloved Soller.  Alas it wasn’t to be and then it was a very private funeral.  Her instructions, in the event of her death were clear for all her friends and it centred around Bar Turismo in the heart of Soller.
The significance of Bar Turismo comes because Elena ran the English Library of Soller in this very place from 1963 to 1998.  Bar Turismo was the daily meeting place of all the English speaking colony of the Soller Valley plus many holiday visitors. In the 1963 of Soller there was censorship of the printed word and speech and very few publications in English.  This was the time she decided to start an English rental library.  In this pre Kindle, English television and radio days it was a lifeline.  Elena ran this place like a well oiled machine and the handwritten library lists and account books are still in existence today.  They are part of the memorabilia of the era which is hoping to find a place in the Museum of Soller.

Books were there at the event today and everyone was invited to take a book home in memory of Elena.  When the library closed 10,000 books had to find new homes and they represented so much.  Some were original copies donated and signed by the authors who lived and worked here.  Others were all the holiday reading that visitors brought with them when they came to stay here. The rest of the collection were books ordered by Elena and paid for out of the meagre library funds. This was a labour of love and didn’t pay the bills.
Thirty-five years of library and meeting many house owners here through books meant that Elena was one busy lady.  She took over the running of their affairs in Majorca and holds the record for the number of Powers of Attorney that she held for them. This work became a lucrative career and made all the difference to her life here and enabled her to buy a small house in Fornalutx.

When Elena arrived in Soller in 1959 she decided not to return to her New York life but to settle in the Soller Valley and earn her money where she could.  The most obvious way for this highly literate lady was to teach English to local children. I spoke to one of her friends at the gathering today who was one such child.  She said that Elena was known as the serious English teacher who wanted all her pupils to do well.  The children had their classes with Elena and then were required to do homework. Any slacking was reported to their parents because this was the way Elena earned her living and she was very protective of her reputation.  It is said that in her teaching years that over 1000 children were taught English by her in Soller and Fornalutx.
Elena was always active in the local community and her years of being part of the development of Age Concern Espana were very important to her. For many years she was the Financial Controller of the organisation in Majorca. She wrote for their publications and their monthly newsletters were one of the many writing tasks undertaken each month.
Elena loved books, the words, the smell and the feel of them.  The pressure was mounting on her to write a book of her own telling her story of her life in Majorca in the 50’s and 60’s.  After her retirement from her work at Age Concern she concentrated on the book and it was a very important milestone in her life when ‘Witches, Oranges and Slingers’ was published. The book had modest sales overall but did well locally and was sold in 14 other countries.  Elena left the City of Soller the proceeds of all royalties from the book as a gift in her will.  The City were touched and honoured by this generosity.
Elena Davis led a remarkable life as an incomer to the Soller Valley.  She was busy, sociable and caring in her charitable works.  The US Consular Agent Kimberly Marshall was at the gathering today and told me that at the American Embassy they are so proud of Elena Davis.  She represented the US beautifully in her life in the Soller Valley.  She is a fine example to women who want to travel, see the world and make their own choices.
President Obama sent Elena a message on the celebration of her 100thbirthday which was delivered to her by the US Consul to her party in Fornalutx.  He said that he was grateful to her for being a fine ambassador for the USA in Majorca.
Elena Davis meant so much to so many here and we will all miss her. We enjoyed her hospitality today and were glad to raise a glass and a song to her memory. She left us a poem that summed up her funeral wishes
When I am dead, my dearest,
Sing a song for me,
Plant thou no roses at my head
Nor shady cypress tree:
Be the green grass above me
With showers and dewdrops wet:
And if thou wilt, remember,
And if thou wilt, forget.
We will not forget our memories of Elena, the teacher, the librarian, the Age Concern treasurer, the reader, the Soller Valley lover and our friend.

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