I’ve just heard from her husband, the artist Robert Fones – Elke Town died this morning at 11.15. Elke was an extraordinarily accomplished woman who worked for decades, at Telefilm, TVO and at the company she founded, Storyworks, to nurture screenwriters and their film projects. She was acutely aware, hip, on the ball, punctilious, with a very sharp mind, great taste, and a dry sense of humour.
We were part of a circle which met regularly; I didn’t know Elke well at first, but she was a friend of my old friends Suzette Couture and Jessica Bradley, also extremely accomplished, one a TV and film screenwriter and producer, the other a curator and dealer of modern art. Amazing women. We used to get together several times a year to eat and drink, gossip and jabber about esoteric subjects and about our aging minds and bodies – memorable gatherings, sometimes with another old friend, Isobel Harry. Through the years, Elke read various iterations of my books and manuscripts, always with something succinct and terrifyingly right to say.
One evening about five years ago, we were all at Robert and Elke’s pristine house near Roncesvalles; she’d prepared a fantastic feast from the Yotam Ottolenghi cookbook, but, she told us, something funny was going on with her legs; they seemed to have a mind of their own, and she didn’t feel as strong as usual. Before long, she was given the worst possible diagnosis – ALS. Devastating.
Within a couple of years, Robert and Elke were forced to sell their house and move into an apartment, where gradually, we visitors saw the transformation in our dear friend and in the place itself, the washroom renovated to make it possible for Elke’s wheelchair to get inside. Supported by a team of caregivers provided by our government, Elke continued to work until the last months, writing her own screenplays and also reading other people’s. When I visited, we never talked about her illness, her increasing lack of mobility; she wanted to hear about films, books, music, TV shows. We’d talk just as we did when she was a fiercely productive screenplay consultant, editor, and writer, and not a tiny, frail woman in a huge wheelchair, struggling at the end to keep her head upright.
Elke Town was in her late 60’s. She leaves her husband Robert, her daughter Chloe, and many friends and admirers. You’ll be much missed, Elke my love. Thank you for everything you gave us.