Obituary: Corinne ‘Corky’ Elhai

Corinne “Corky” Elhai, a longtime Claremont resident, died in Ontario on June 23, 2016 after a three-month illness. She was 86.

She was born in Winnipeg, Canada on May 27, 1930 and moved with her family to a small town in Manitoba when she was 11. Upon arrival, Corky, an avid reader, decided to read every book on every shelf, starting with the upper left-hand corner. She didn’t succeed and admitted she encountered some unappealing reading. She often joked that she lived in central Canada “long enough to really hate the snow.” When Corky was in her mid-teens, her family moved to Vancouver and then to Los Angeles, where she graduated from John Marshall High School.

She then attended UCLA where she earned an associate’s degree. It was there she met her husband Bill Elhai at a college dance when their eyes met across the dance floor. Inseparable ever since, they were married in 1950, embarking on a union that lasted 65 years. They moved to Claremont in 1964 and remained here ever since. The couple welcomed four children over the years, Sarah, John, Robert and Philip, and Mrs. Elhai threw herself into family activities. Her motherly involvements included countless shifts in the Little League and Pony League snack bars.

She was active in the Temple Beth Israel Preschool, a program she helped establish, as well as in the temple’s Sisterhood group. In addition, Mrs. Elhai taught first grade at the Temple Beth Israel Religious School for years. She was active for many years in the California Council of Parent Participation Nursery Schools, holding offices at the local, regional and state levels. This included presidency of the San Gabriel valley Council of Parent Participation Nursery Schools in 1965-1966.

When her children were in school, Mrs. Elhai returned to her education, earning a bachelor’s degree in economics from Pomona College in 1972 and an MBA from the University of La Verne in the early 1980s. She worked in the Pomona College Alumni Office and then at General Dynamics. She and Bill entered Mt. San Antonio Gardens in 2008.

Corky was a woman of many interests. She was a strong supporter of the arts, with season tickets to the LA Philharmonic and the Los Angeles Music Center (long enough to get third-row!). Mrs. Elhai was also a longtime patron of the Claremont High School Theatre Department, where her children performed, designed and worked backstage from 1969 through 1979, and where her daughter-in-law Krista Carson Elhai is theatre director. 

Mrs. Elhai was also an enthusiastic bridge and Mah Jongg player all her life, teaching the latter game to many of her friends at Mt. San Antonio Gardens.  She was an avid reader, enjoying mysteries, thrillers and speculative and science fiction. She also enjoyed knitting and crocheting hats and sweaters for her grandchildren, especially when they were babies. Travel was another big part of her life, and Corky visited most of the capital cities in Europe over the years as well as taking cruises around the world.

“Corky’s sense of humor and philosophical approach to life will be greatly missed,” family shared.

She is survived by her loving husband Bill Elhai, her older brother Allan Ghitterman (Susan Rose) of Santa Barbara and her four children Sarah Elhai Rahamim (Uri) of Mountain View, John Elhai (Cindy) of Simi Valley, Robert Elhai (Laura Hoyt) of Minneapolis and Philip Elhai (Krista Carson Elhai) of Claremont. She also leaves 11 grandchildren ages 14 through 34: Avri, Roneet and Daniel Rahamim; Julia, Kellie and Michelle Elhai; Nathaniel and Alexander Elhai; and Lindsey, Dylan and Noah Elhai.

A memorial service will be held on Sunday, July 17 at 11 a.m. at Mt. San Antonio Garden’s Assembly Hall. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the Temple Beth Israel Campership Fund or to another charity of your choice.


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