Nov. 28, 1930-May 5, 2018
Palo Alto, California
Yelena Fedorova, of Palo Alto, died in a tragic accident on May 5, 2018 while crossing the street returning to her apartment. Yelena was a humane, independent and spirited woman whose storied life drew resilience from the deprivations of WWII, political transitions in the Soviet Union and immigration to the United States.
Yelena was born in Saratov, on the Volga river in Russia. When Yelena was 6 years old, her mother passed away giving birth to her brother. Yelena's father, a colonel in the Soviet Air Force during WWII, was arrested by Stalin's government and sent to a Gulag forced labor camp shortly after the end of the war. During the De-Stalinization era, Yelena's father received a full pardon and exoneration.
Yelena and her brother were taken in by their aunt and uncle. The tutelage of her older cousin led her to study medicine. She graduated in the top of her class from Saratov Medical School in 1953 specializing in ENT. As part of the Soviet medical programs common at the time, Yelena was dispatched to Poselok Shuga, a small village on the Gulf of Ob in the Siberian tundra, where she served as the chief of medicine for a population of nomadic Nenets reindeer herders. Many of the children and the Nenets community became her first patients. After she completed her assignment in Shuga, Yelena transferred to Moscow where she continued practicing medicine until retiring in the early 1990s.
In Moscow, Yelena married Boris Yakoubson, an engineer and navy officer. They had two children, both of whom would immigrate to the United States during the wave of Jewish migration out of Russia that took place during the Perestroika period as well as after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Yelena followed them to the U.S. in 1998 and made her home in Palo Alto for almost two decades. A lifelong learner, she meticulously practiced the English language, crafted her own clothing, and was regularly astounded by the minute nuances of American domestic life.
A grandmother and great-grandmother thrice over, Yelena was an essential part of bringing our family together and we all gravely miss her laughter, stories and joy for life.