Alice “Abbi” Bernice Damerow Giventer, formerly of Scarsdale, died peacefully Feb. 22 at 96 years old. Mrs. Giventer was born in Wabasso, Florida. Although she loved New York, she was always a proud Floridian.
After graduating from the University of Iowa, Mrs. Giventer moved to New York City in the late 1940s. She studied graphic design and technical drawing at the Pratt Institute under Alexey Brodovitch. She was his favorite student and he hired her at Harper’s Bazaar, where he was the art director. She eventually became assistant director and also worked at Vogue and Flair magazines as an illustrator and commercial artist. At Harper’s Bazaar, she worked with photographer Richard Avedon, with illustrator Saul Steinberg — whose work she particularly liked — and with Andy Warhol. Warhol did a series of shoe images for the magazine. Mrs. Giventer had many stories about Warhol’s eccentricities. One Easter, Mrs. Giventer said she and Warhol went to a cemetery to hunt for Easter eggs. She always quoted his saying, “Art is what you can get away with.”
In addition to her work for fashion magazines, Mrs. Giventer illustrated for American Girl magazine and several children’s books in the 1950s and ’60s. One of them was “Susan Sometimes,” which her friend Phyllis Krasilovsky wrote about Mrs. Giventer’s daughter, Susan. Mrs. Giventer illustrated three books by teen-advice writer Betty Cornell, including “Betty Cornell’s Teen-Age Popularity Guide,” which had a surprising return to attention in 2014.
Mrs. Giventer met her husband Edwin Giventer in New York City when he was a graduate student at Columbia University. They married in 1950. Mr. Giventer became a professor of philosophy. When their children Susan and Thomas were born, the family moved to Scarsdale. Mrs. Giventer stayed home to raise the children. During the summer, the family spent time in Norwich, Vermont, in a cabin in the woods, which Mrs. Giventer designed. She and Mr. Giventer were nature lovers.
Mrs. Giventer’s family said she leaves behind treasured memories and will be deeply missed. Mrs. Giventer is survived by Susan and Hatice, her nieces and nephews in Florida and New York and her many friends. She was predeceased by her husband Edwin, her son Thomas Giventer and her brother Kenneth Damerow of Vero Beach, Florida.
There will be a memorial service for Mrs. Giventer April 28 at 1:30 p.m. at Scarsdale Friends Meeting, 133 Popham Road. Memorial contributions may be made to Hospicare, 172 E. King Road, Ithaca, NY 14850 and SPCA of Tompkins County, 1640 Hanshaw Road, Ithaca, NY 14850. Condolences may be sent to Susan Giventer, c/o Hatice Brenton, PO Box 3805, Ithaca, NY 14852.