From an early age, Levine had a passion for civil rights and activism. She traveled to Washington, DC, in 1963 and marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. during the March on Washington. Anna Levine’s daughter, Robin Levine, told CNN that marching and hearing King’s “I Have A Dream” speech was the pinnacle of her mother’s life and a memory she would share with family and friends.
“She wanted us to realize that no one person is better than anyone else,” Robin Levine told CNN. “She got on a bus with 200 strangers, is what she said, and she went to Washington, DC. She said it was that important for her.”
The two-time cancer survivor had a love for learning and the law. It took her 14 years to get her bachelor’s degree, because she took a break from classes to deal with her own health issues and a divorce.
Levine worked to obtain a master’s degree in urban planning and then ultimately a law degree from the City University of New York School of Law at age 62. Levine’s passion for law was inherited by her grandson Eric, who now works as a lawyer.
Levine worked as a bookkeeper at a jewelry store until she graduated from law school and started working in New York State’s family court mediation program. The long-time Little Neck resident continued doing that work for more than 20 years.
“She wanted her life to mean something when people remembered her she wanted them to think she did something, she left her mark on the world and that was her way of leaving her mark on the world,” Robin Levine told CNN of a comment her mother made to her sister, Sharon Levine.
When she turned 80, the Committee on Presidential Debates invited Levine and her daughter to the presidential debate between Sen. John McCain and then-Sen. Barack Obama at Hofstra University. Levine attended as a guest of the president of Hofstra.
Robin Levine recalls being on a conference call with her mother and other family members the night President Obama was elected. They were watching CNN and when the race was called for Obama, Levine burst into tears of joy, her daughter said.
Even as she got older, politics and civil rights continued to be a priority for Anna Levine. She traveled to DC in 2013 to protest on the steps of the Supreme Court in support of legalizing same-sex marriages.
Anna Levine was passionate about politics for her entire life, until she died at 91 from the coronavirus, her daughter said.
Robin Levine told CNN that the nursing home told her that her mother was sick on April 14. The next night, a nurse called her to say that they had swabbed her mother who had tested positive for coronavirus.
Robin reached Anna via phone call on April 21 and expressed how thankful she was for her mother. Anna told her daughter that she thought she was dying but she was OK now.
Anna Levine died alone the next day, April 22.
“The hardest thing for me as a daughter was not being able to comfort my mother, hold her hand, say goodbye, and have her see us,” Robin told CNN.
Anna Levine is survived by her two daughters and three grandchildren. She is buried at Montefiore Cemetery next to her own grandmother, who died at age 32 during the influenza pandemic of 1918.