Feb 8, 1903 — Dec. 31, 1984

Elias Oliver Amador Sandoval


Elias Oliver Amador Sandoval, born in 1903 in the city of Aguascalientes, México, where his father Don (Sir) Elias Amador Garay was a highly respected historian who developed and ran the main Library in Zacatecas, along with holding many other posts. His second wife, Josefa Muro Sandoval had sixteen children, out of twenty two births. Elias Oliver was born late, as the fourteenth child or so; he was not appreciated as Benjamín, the sixteenth child, a fair looking, even featured child died soon after birth. Someone in his family told him it should have been the reverse. When he was dying of lung cancer, in his early 80’s, an X-ray at NW Memorial Hospital showed cranial facial fractures of which he had no knowledge. He died December 31, 1984, in Chicago, at the age of 82.

He had finished fifth grade when his father died and his older siblings proceeded to spend their inheritance. He was very cultured as he acquired much knowledge from his educated family and from his own readings. He became a gifted watercolorist taught by his older brother, Severo Amador, famous for his poetry, ballads and stories along with his watercolors, fine ink etchings and oil paintings, and a respected art teacher. Elias Oliver also created his own furniture designs, all of which are hand-made. 

Elias spoke English so he travelled to Chicago where he met and married his wife Edith Josephine Weidenheim in 1927. He went back to live in Mexico City where he remained until 1963 when he returned to live in Michigan and later Chicago. In 1957, he spent two years in Chicago, but was unable to establish himself with his family at that time. 

Elias Oliver became certified as an accountant in Mexico. He worked for the Goodyear Tire Company in Mexico and later for a large department store in Chicago; painting watercolors and creating original design hand-carved furniture off and on. He was very calm, self-effacing, notably losing his temper twice, which helped keep his wife Edith Josephine calm. She enjoyed calling herself Tida “the Terrible” in later years owing to her high-strung nature, although she did lead a hard life. Their three children were Dr. Elias Amador, pathologist, Alice Cybele Elster, high school teacher and Eric Amador, technologically minded. 

His character rich watercolors cover a wide range of subjects, some imaginary, most focusing on Mexican churches and sights. He could go years without painting, but each time he picked up his brushes anew, his work exhibited further development, of deeper and wider breadth, both in subject and technique. He only painted during the brighter hours of the day and never on gray days, since he had trouble perceiving colors correctly in fading daylight due to defective eyesight. He never used electric light as he felt it did not yield the true range of colors he sought. Although he was very admired for his paintings, his watercolors sold sporadically, thus he did not persevere in their marketing. His work is calming, capturing the essence of the scene, always original and sometimes unusual, such as the sunken sea treasure boat. One of his churches shows his love of animals as a faithful black dog waits outside for his owner(s). His oriental motif paintings are powerful. His paintings were always inspiring and imbued with a sense of permanence. 

His wife Edith wrote a very fast-paced, engaging book about the kings of France, which may have been rejected for publication due to its tight, terse literary prose although it makes for fascinating reading. She was multi-lingual, held a doctorate in Greek and Latin, translated many engineering and chemical patents, becoming a college language professor in later life.