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Milpitas Historical Society awards first Elaine Levine Memorial Scholarship in Journalism

Last month, the Milpitas Historical Society gave out its very first Elaine Levine Memorial Scholarship in Journalism.

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At Milpitas High School’s (MHS) Senior Awards Night, Vania Talitha Castro learned that she was the recipient of the new $250 scholarship, given in honor of Levine, who had been co-founder of the Milpitas Post newspaper with her husband Mort Levine.

“Milpitas Historical Society is honored to offer this scholarship in Elaine Levine’s name,” said MHS journalism teacher Sanjit Roy in a pre-recorded video played during Senior Awards Night. “It was her family’s wish that the society create something in her memory, and they agreed that the scholarship would be very appropriate.”

Founded in 1955, the Milpitas Post began when the community was on the cusp of great change and opportunity. The opening of the Ford Motor Plant brought a couple thousand workers and their families to the small farming community. Housing and retail development began to overtake the agricultural area. And from the beginning, The Milpitas Post was there, documenting the extensive growth of our city under the Levines’ leadership.

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Aside from being deeply committed to community journalism, Levine was also passionate about the history of Milpitas. In fact, it was Levine who got the ball rolling for the actual formation of the Milpitas Historical Society.

In an interview with The Beat, Historical Society Treasurer and Director of Educational Outreach Joseph Ehardt spoke of how instrumental Levine was in moving things forward…

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“Elaine spearheaded it,” said Ehardt. “She was the one who pulled together community leaders and said: ‘Don’t you think we need a society to preserve the history that will disappear as Milpitas modernizes?’”

Once the idea was planted in Levine’s mind, there was no stopping her. She asked Milpitas’ Park and Recreation Director Bob McGuire, School Superintendent Leo Murphy, and Librarian Ed Cavallini out to lunch to propose her idea. They all agreed to move forward, and in 1980, the Milpitas Historical Society was born.

Pat Loomis, author of “Centuring of Little Cornfields,” also came onboard with the group as one of the society’s founders.

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During Senior Awards Night, the Milpitas Historical Society Scholarship in History was also given out for the first time. Kathryn Kerr was the recipient.

Historical Society President Bill Hare, along with Ehardt, interfaced with a few MHS teachers – Sanjit Roy, Paul Harrison, and Liza Gable-Ferguson – and Principal Francis Rojas to determine which two students would receive scholarships. The Society’s Board of Directors also played a role in making the final decision.

Kathryn Kerr and Vania Talitha Castro both graduated Summa Cum Laude and were honored with the Golden State Seal of Merit.

Although Elaine Levine passed away in 2020 at the age of 91, her legacy continues to live on.

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