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William Elhai

US Navy veteran, woodworker, warrior for peace

William “Bill” Elhai, a longtime Claremont resident, died in the wee hours of June 30 following a period of declining health. He was 90 years old. 

Mr. Elhai lived at Mt. San Antonio Gardens for 10 years, and proudly served in the US Navy. He had a long and varied career, working as an aircraft mechanic during and after World War II, as well as an electronics engineer at General Dynamics in Pomona from 1964 until he retired in 1992. In between he attended fashion design school, and co-owned a furniture factory with his brothers. 

Outside of work he was an avid bowler, popular bridge player and skilled woodworker, as well as one of the first grandparents ever to send a text message. He made many dollhouses by hand for his granddaughters and others, as well as heirloom cradles that remain in the family to this day. 

He served on the board of trustees for Temple Beth Israel, and was president of TBI Brotherhood, B’nai B’rith and the Anti-Defamation League, promoting international peace and cultural harmony.

A quiet and humble man, Mr. Elhai will be remembered most fondly by his family for his generous spirit, dry sense of humor, incorrigible and unapologetic puns, and folk songs he sang with his family, accompanied by his guitar.

He was predeceased by his beloved wife, Corinne (Corky), as well as five of his six siblings.

He is survived by his older sister, Rae; his four children Sarah (Uri) Rahamim, John (Cindy) Elhai, Robert (Laura Hoyt) Elhai, Philip (Krista Carson) Elhai; and grandchildren Avri, Roneet, Daniel, Lindsey, Dylan, Noah, Nathaniel, Alexander, Julia, Kellie and Michelle.

The family asks that in lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to Temple Beth Israel Brotherhood at tbipomona.org/brotherhood; VNA Hospice and Palliative Care of Southern California at vnasocal.org/donate-to-vna; or Mt. San Antonio Gardens at msagardens.org/giving.