By Ute Ben Yosef, previous director of the Jacob Gitlin Library
The Director of the Jacob Gitlin Library, Jacqui Rodgers, the chairman, Philip Todres and the staff sadly mourn the passing of Lorraine Knight on 16 July.
Lorraine was the very soul of the library. She became part of the staff under the directorship of Yvonne Verblun, bringing with her a joyful commitment, a quick grasp of her work and a wicked sense of humour which was contagious.
One of her first tasks was to stamp the newly acquisitioned books and prepare them for the shelves. It transpired that Lorraine was gifted with a rare photographic memory. She could remember the content and illustrations of each book that passed her scrutiny. She could retrieve any material even after years on the shelf. The same applied to the thousands of documents in the archive section. In the course of her work, Lorraine had imbibed the contents of the entire Library in its macroscopic overview and microcosmic detail. She helped our scholars write their books and research papers. For many a book standing on the Library shelves the primary research was done by Lorraine.
She acquired an expert knowledge of Jewish history, Israeli politics, Religion, Fiction and the Holocaust.
At the end of each day she used to say with her special sigh of relief: “another day”.
Lorraine found joy in her work. She had an unquenchable urge to learn, to grow intellectually and to give of this back to the community. She was dedicated to the project of bringing library books to Highlands House with loving care, selecting the books for each of her readers, whom she knew intimately.
We are deeply grateful to her for giving so much of herself to the Library, even after her retirement. Whenever she came to work, she would enhance the reading room with a beautiful bouquet of flowers from Aubrey’s garden.
Lorraine was always elegantly dressed with a special flare of understatement that too was contagious. She sometimes criticised my taste in dressing, telling me that I look as though I was wearing pyjamas.
She would also criticise at times my professional work as head Librarian. She allowed no neglect to pass her scrutiny. I in turn learned from her vast knowledge and integrity. I remember many conversations with Lorraine. We had arguments, especially during the process of installation of the computer system which could hardly compete with her associative memory. Then she began to lose her eyesight. Her glaucoma was a loss of untold proportions to this avid reader. She bore her burden with fortitude.
One of her favourite expressions was: “One day, when I die dead…”. Well, she didn’t. The Jacob Gitlin Library continues to go from strength to strength filled with her lastingly vibrant spirit.
Sadly, on the day of Lorraine’s funeral, 22 July 2021, her beloved husband Aubrey Knight passed away. He had been gravely ill and had suffered much pain, with characteristic heroism.
Aubrey was beloved by all, and his passing fills the community with deep sadness. He had worked at the Community Centre at 88 Hatfield Street as caretaker and functions co-ordinator. After he retired, the Centre could not function without him and he was called back. He worked for a further thirteen years. He was dedicated and meticulous and his joyful optimism was infectious. He always carried sweets with him which he dished out “to sweeten your day”, and when asked how he was he would say: “Better than the day before”. His loss is deeply mourned by the entire community, and his memory is cherished together with that of our beloved Lorraine.
Deepest sympathy is expressed to their daughters Alethea and Gail, and grandchildren Trevino, Abigail and Alvin. They will carry the spirit of their wonderful parents and grandparents with them into their future lives.
• Published in the PDF edition of the September 2021 issue – Download here.
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