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Laine Tigane was born May 23, 1919, to Elisabeth and August Tigane in Tartu, Eesti. She shared with me a bit of her history but it was difficult for her to recall too much from her past. She did not enjoy talking about herself. Laine lived in the present and felt it was a healthier lifestyle.
Laine worked as a bookkeeper in Eesti before leaving and going to Germany. She left her homeland and family behind as a young woman around 1942. She went to Germany and then to Vienna trying to settle someplace safe during the war. She worked as a clerk. While living and working in Vienna Laine shared a very intimate story with me. One evening while returning from work, she recalled walking back to the house where she was renting a room. As she got closer she saw an image of her grandmother (who was deceased at this time) standing in the doorway gesturing her not to come in but to run away.

Laine did so and as she was walking briskly down the road she heard an awful sound and she turned around just in time to see the house blow up. It was hit by a bomb. All she had with her were the clothes on her back and her purse. But, of course, she had all of her savings in her purse while she didn’t trust leaving it in her room. She had enjoyed her time in Germany prior to coming to Vienna and decided to take a train back to Germany. She lived and worked there until 1948 as a clerk, accountant and for a short period of time as a technical draftsman for an engineering firm for the U.S. army Headquarters located at the Nurenberg Military Post.


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Through the International Refugee Organization she was able to sail to America. The United States Department of Justice, Immigration and Naturalization Service, welcomed Laine to the United States on 2/8/1949. In the beginning she lived with a family in Manhattan who also helped her get a job. On November 28, 1955 Laine Tigane became a citizen of the United States of America.

Laine returned to school and after many years of study she became a Nautical Architect. Her certificate is dated, November 12, 1972. A little Lady in a big man’s world. She loved her job and expressed an immense fondness for the ocean and having a hand in building ships that sailed on those waters. I asked her once, why ship building? And she stated, “Anyone can build homes and buildings that stand tall and reach for the sky, but not so many can build ships that travel on the seas.” She was employed with M. Rosenblatt and Sons, Inc. (Naval architects/Marine Engineers) until her retirement in the late 80’s.

Some of Laine’s other accomplishments:
• 1946 - Laine received a diploma for technical drawing and became qualified as a technical drafter by taking technical courses arranged by the Estonian Technical College of Estonian engineers association in Geislingen, Germany.
• 1948 - diploma for Interior Decoration through the International Refugee Organization also in Geislingen, Germany.
• 1948 - she passed a course in theoretic and practical kindergarten teaching through Church World Service in Augsburg, Germany.
• 1969 - she received a certificate of completion in Navigation in Coastal waters
• 1971 - from NYU continuing education she received a certificate from the Division of Business and Management for completing a study program on water systems and plumbing design.

• 1973 – from NYU continuing education she received a certificate from the Division of Business and Management for completing a program for air conditioning and refrigeration technology.

Laine was also a member of The National Geographic Society, a member of the Institute of Navigation, and a platinum member of the Republican Party.

Eventually Laine moved to NJ where the living expenses were more reasonable than in the city. Always the practical thinker. At some point she settled into 8750 Blvd East in North Bergen where she lived happily until her move to Christian Health Care Center in Wyckoff NJ in March 2018. She loved her apartment and living independently. She was able to come and go as she pleased and come and go she did, quite often. We can all recall seeing her in Long Island and Lakewood, taking the bus and train to her destinations. She was actually still taking the bus into NYC for kirik and events at Eesti Maja and throughout NYC well into her 90’s. People were always offering to bring her or take her home – myself included – however, she much preferred her independence, using public transportation.

Laine was a staunch Republican and a believer in woman’s rights. She loved her new country, the United States of America, but she was also so loyal to her homeland, Eesti. She was a gold member of kirik, she also became a member of the Church of Sweden in 2001, and she was a long time member of the New York Eesti Maja. As she became older, her activities centered on kirik and the Eesti Maja. Up until the past 5 years or so, Laine’s schedule was as follows: every Friday she would have dinner at the Eesti Maja and read the Eesti Leht in the corner of the kohvik, many Saturdays she came to the Eesti Maja to see the children at Eesti Kool, Sundays she would travel to the Church of Sweden and then go uptown to kirik. Once a month on Tuesdays she would travel back to the Eesti Maja for the senior meetings and Thursday was her local shopping day by a town shuttle bus.

As much as we all came to worry about Laine living on her own and traveling on her own during her later years, I would like to share with you how she was able to do this for so long. She had a wonderful support system made up of her neighbors – they would keep a watchful eye on her, offer help whenever possible (and we all know how Laine despised needing any assistance), but they were there quietly waiting in the wings to help her for whatever reason. I got to know many of her neighbors when I began visiting Laine weekly and I was reassured that they truly cared about her well being and were there for her. The bus drivers going up and down the Boulevard, the senior shuttle driver, the folks at the Shop Rite where she bought her weekly groceries - they enjoyed talking to her and helping her. She lived in her own little bubble, one that her Estonian community knew nothing about.

As I was helping Laine go through her belongings prior to moving into Christian Health Care Center, I came across drawers full of photos. Laine was quite the traveler. She traveled to the west coast (CA, Washington and Oregon, even up to Alaska), Arizona, Canada, Washington DC, Pennsylvania, the Jersey shore and many places I couldn’t make out from the photos and Laine couldn’t recall. But these photos were filled with friends, beautiful scenery, and an ever present, smiling Laine. She surely enjoyed these trips. Laine also traveled to Europe – Germany, France, England, Switzerland, and Italy. Her most memorable trip was in 1992 when she traveled to Rome and Venice. While in Rome she actually introduced herself to Pope John Paul II. She told me that she introduced herself, gave him a book, and of course said to him “Elagu Eesti!” That ended up becoming her mantra at many gatherings throughout the years.

When it was time to move, Laine chose Christian Health Care Center mainly because it was established by the Dutch. For some reason that was important to her and it gave her peace. She began her time there living at Longview which was the independent living section of CHCC. She was able to move in with some of her own furnishings which made it more like home. She was content. Her last outing to NYC was with Carl and I when we brought her to the Vabariigi Aastapäeva 100th celebration. It was the prefect event to attend but one which also ended that phase of her life. She realized that being out of her home for such a long time became too much for her, so she settled into the busy life available to her at CHCC. She attended every single activity, every single day. They all fell in love with Laine’s independent spirit and way of being.

Unfortunately, her time in Longview was short lived because she suffered a series of strokes shortly after her 99th birthday. This was a tragic event, but Laine did bounce back. She was moved to the rehab section at CHCC.

She went through physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy for weeks until she was moving about on her own. She had also decided that she wanted to remain at Heritage Manor, which was the nursing section of CHCC. She was a smart woman and knew she would need further assistance. She discontinued speech therapy at the end of 2018, even though I encouraged her to continue. Communication was difficult but we made the best of it. She celebrated her 100th birthday at Heritage Manor and remained there until her death on 9/20/2019. The staff who worked with her and assisted her were always respectful of her wishes and supported her daily. All who knew Laine felt a wave of relief knowing she was in such good hands.

Laine will be missed. We will miss her feistiness, her quick wit, but most of all her presence. She was everywhere for so long. So, as you leave here today please remember a few things about Laine – she may have been stubborn, we know she was feisty but she meant well and deep down in her heart she was a kind soul.

Laine Skonberg


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