Elise Fern Mesh nee Schwartz was born on August 8, 1931 to Sidney Schwartz and Lucille Barker Schwartz in Cincinnati, Ohio. She attended Walnut Hills High School , graduating in 1949. Following her graduation she enrolled at the University of Michigan. She left the University of Michigan in 1951 and completed her degree at the University of Cincinnati. Her husband, Gene, tells the story that he was a year ahead of her in school. He first met her when she came in as a freshman and offered a tour of the campus. In early 1951 he gave her his fraternity pin. When Elise told her father that she was “pinned” her mother and father insisted that she come home. Not to be denied their destiny, Elise and Gene were married on March 1, 1953 and were married for 66 years.
Elise was committed to her family, friends, community, synagogue and Israel.
Family: Her children and grandchildren expressed how she made all those around her better. Her love for Gene and for them was unending and unconditional. The inclusive nature of her heart and spirit were the elemental and driving force of the family; as son Chuck mentioned, hers were always the best qualities in each of us. Larry says of his mother, “It was my greatest fortune, and privilege to have her as my best friend, and for her to have made me feel I was hers. I know this was also just how by her nature she made so many others feel the same way. As her son though, how I was the truly lucky one. The multitude of fine moments we shared, I'll always keep in my heart as the greatest blessing.”
Community and Friends: Elise’s daughter Sydney recounted that through the years every Rosh Hashanah the dining room and living room were full of guests for lunch, becoming something of an Amberley tradition. Elise regularly invited anyone who did not have plans for lunch that day to join the family. Her son Chuck said “Elise reliably lit up a group but was never ever blinding.” Her love of people and capacity for being a good friend to so many, her warmth and vivacity, enabled her to bring together the community she loved in a unique way. As her friends well knew, from the earliest years Elise also brought her natural sense of joy, fun, loyalty and inclusion to all her endeavors, which did include her reputation for making and sharing in great celebrations and parties. For one of her memorable Birthday parties, her 70'th, included in all the invitations was a check from her and Gene, with no payee filled in, and with the proviso that each attendee make the check out to the charity of their choice. Thus, she joined together again her senses of charity, inclusion, celebration, and the enriching of her community. That was the nature of her heart. Rabbi Irvin Wise, Rabbi Emeritus at Adath Israel Congregation, expressed that “Elise brought immeasurable beauty to our world and lives because of her inner beauty.”
Synagogue: Elise was a long time member of Adath Israel Congregation. Rabbi Wise spoke about her commitment to the synagogue and that over the years when she and Gene were in town they were at synagogue every Shabbat. Elise was the kind of person who would never leave the sanctuary at the end of services without greeting him warmly with a Good Shabbos.
Israel: Elise and Gene made Israel Bonds into a lifelong mission. Not only by investing themselves but also by encouraging and convincing many others to invest in Israel by buying Israel bonds, and raising funds for the still young State in innovative and groundbreaking ways. They personally viewed their support for Israel Bonds not only as an investment but as a recurring trust in perpetuity. Elise’s daughter Sydney recounts that in 1967 it was Elise who called Gene and said “they are fighting in the street of Jerusalem” and convinced him to support Israel Bonds. Gene became the chairman of the men’s division while Elise chaired the women’s division of Israel Bonds. Gene wrote “Elise was a true daughter of Israel. She showed me the way. As a result of her love of Israel I became a large investor in Israel Bonds. We shared many trips to Israel after the 1967 Six Day War, becoming ever more involved.”
Her family was deeply influenced by her support for Israel Bonds. Gene, Elise and her children had traveled to Israel multiple times by the time they had finished high school. Sydney said that it was this connection that led her to go to Israel after college; what started as a quest to learn Hebrew turned into a lifelong spiritual journey. Sydney merits her mother as the inspiration for the life she has built with her own family.
Elise and Gene's charitable giving would extend to many other facets of support for Israeli, Jewish and local and national civic causes. Support for Girls Town Jerusalem and sponsoring of the young girls there, involvement over her later years in Magen David Adom, Educational, special needs and Federation initiatives, across Ohio and Florida, including the Kollel and J.E.E.P. locally. And, as her son Larry made note of, the countless quiet, small and kind gestures that we all, and those whose lives she enriched, witnessed throughout her life. And then also, the larger gesture, if that was what the moment required. This was truly an animating principle of her sweet and giving nature that touched so many.
Her son-in-law, Michael said Mom always brought out the best in people and thus in her loving embrace of him to the family, he was the better man for it, and especially grateful. He never heard in all their years an un-encouraging word from her. Her grandson, Chaim, spoke about an important lesson they learned from his grandmother while she was struggling with illness at the end of her life. Illness, he said, has the ability to change people, but not his grandmother; she fought it without changing who she was. The family saw how their mother and grandmother's inner essence still shone through. Elise maintained her dignified and beautiful identity, appreciative of kindnesses done for her and sharing loving words always with those around her.
We’ll leave the final words to her husband, Gene. “She had a personality that saw only good in others. She would be calm in the midst of crowds.” “Her beauty was on the inside as well as on the outside.”
Elise Mesh, nee Schwartz, passed away January 29, 2020 in Boca Raton, FL, beloved wife of Gene Mesh, devoted mother of Charles Mesh (Diane Litwin), Sydney Harris (Michael) & Larry Mesh, loving grandmother of Aaron Mesh, Jordan Mesh (Natalie), Allison Mesh, Akiva Harris, Sarah Rena Grodko (Josh), Chaim Harris (Meira), Rachel Gordon (Josh), Yakov Harris, great grandmother of Avi, Ezra and Racheli.
Funeral services were held at Weil Funeral Home. Rabbi Irvin Wise officiated. Elise was laid to rest at United Jewish Cemeteries in Montgomery, Ohio. Contributions in her memory should be made to Magen David Adom.