…one part of our life together as a community is remembering the lives of those who have passed away. Several memorial services scheduled for this spring were postponed, and several members passed away in these past weeks. Stories and obituaries about these friends are posted below. As we navigate these days of grief for so many, we thank you for celebrating these lives with us.
As we live together in this time of COVID-19...
Helen Lazarides: Feb. 14, 1928 – March 3, 2020
Helen was born in 1928 in Athens, Greece. She was the second oldest of four daughters, born to Rev. Stavros and Anna Lazarides. Stavros was the pastor of the Greek Evangelical Church in Katerini in northern Greece, where Helen and her sisters were raised.
In 1945, Reverend Lazarides was invited to bring his family to the United States, as there was a small Greek Protestant church in Manhattan that was in need of a minister. Stavros and Anna were excited at the opportunity, as it would offer a means of leaving the war-torn land of Greece; in addition, it would offer the opportunity of a college education for their daughters. In 1946, the family settled in Astoria. Helen graduated high school, and then attended the University of Dubuque. She continued her education at Union Theological Seminary, where she received a Master’s Degree in Christian Education. In the mid-1950s, Helen (along with her sister, Zoe) worked in the public schools in Covington, VA as religious instructors. She would teach weekday religious education to elementary aged schoolchildren. Known as “the Bible teachers”, they were well respected and highly regarded in the community.
In the late 1950s she met Bill Brockett, and together, they established a library, lounge and canteen in the basement of Marcy Gospel Assembly in Brooklyn, as a place for young people to come and have fellowship. Helen believed in education and was instrumental in incorporating a tutoring program for these young people. On one occasion, she gave the young people the following illustration:
Passing by a group of construction workers, she asked them what they were doing. One responded that he was cutting wood, another responded that he was laying bricks, and the third responded that he was “building a life”.
She worked at the Brooklyn Division of the Protestant Council of Churches, and continued her work with the NYC Presbytery. In the 1960s,she directed summer camps for inner city children. She worked for the NYC Mission Society as the director of Camp Green Acres in Dover Plains, NY, which provided many senior citizens the opportunity to have a summer camp experience outside of the city. The camp and the campers became the center of her life’s work and her passion, as she was instrumental in developing programs, fundraising to build new buildings, and opening the doors during the school year for groups of children and adults.
After her retirement, she moved back to Astoria and attended the Jackson Memorial AME Zion Church in Hempstead, New York; her dear friend and colleague, Rev. Leon W. Watts II, was pastor at Jackson Memorial from 1989 until his death in 2003. During those years, Helen assisted him in preparation of worship services, including the “Seven Last Words” Easter service .She taught the Junior/Senior High Sunday school class, and organized adult and youth spiritual retreats at Camp Green Acres. She hosted formal teas to teach etiquette to the youth at Jackson Memorial. She was also active with their vacation bible school. After the passing of Rev. Watts, she was instrumental in naming the education wing at the church in his honor; her strong belief in education also led her to help organize the Leon Walter Watts Scholarship Fund, for which she became the fund administrator. She worked tirelessly to raise funds, as its stated mission was to establish college endowments in the name of Rev. Leon Watts.
Helen will be remembered for her love for Jesus, her Godly work ethic, and her desire to bless others while never seeking credit or attention for herself. To God be the glory for creating such a special person as Helen Lazarides.
Joan M. McNamee,: May 26, 1920-February 13, 2020
Joan, a quiet, gentle and curious lady, would have been 100 on May 26 and many of us looked forward to celebrating that occasion with her. Each year for the last six years we celebrated her birthday, serving her favorite chocolate cake.
Joan, her sister, Kathryn and their mother became members of our church in 1975 having transferred their memberships from Forest Hills Presbyterian Church. Joan and Kathryn were active members until the late 90’s when Kathryn began to develop dementia. As her disease progressed, Joan became her caretaker although over the years it had been Kathryn who managed their activities. Prior to that Kathryn and Joan enjoyed life and engaged in many activities. They loved cruises, the theater and ballet and their many friendships.
In 2014 Joan suffered a massive stroke and was at Beth Israel and then at Amsterdam Rehab Center for several months. At the same time Kathryn was hospitalized and found to have serious infections and died in July 2014. Joan was able to return home in mid – September 2014 with round the clock aides. Joan was so fortunate to have Nelda and Mary along with Charlene for these years. They cared for Joan with concern, compassion and love. In turn Joan brought joy, many laughs and enthusiasm for life to them and to all of us who visited regularly. Although not a lady of many words, she was curious about our activities, our wellbeing and very appreciative of our friendships.
Arax Simsarian: 1922 – 2019
SIMSARIAN, Arax WW II Veteran, US Government employee and longtime pilot Of New York City, died on November 12, 2019, at age 97. She was born in New Jersey in 1922, a daughter of Dicran and Satenig (Tashjian) Simsarian. She graduated from Fort Lee (NJ) High School and Mount Holyoke College in 1943. During World War II, Arax served as an officer in the WAVES at the Naval Ammunition Depot in Hingham, Massachusetts, and at the Office of Special Devices and Inventions, later called the Office of Naval Research. In 1941, during the summer of her sophomore year, she was selected to take part in a conference on International Affairs at the summer home of Eleanor Roosevelt at Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada, under the leadership of Joseph Lash. Upon her discharge from the Navy, she was a researcher and reporter for the National Industrial Conference Board and for the National Association of Manufacturers, where she wrote a special paper on Social Security and a position paper on forced labor and handicapped employees. These position papers were referred to by both employers and employee unions to support their respective positions. In 1966 she was employed by Standard Oil Company of New Jersey, now Exxon, and while there, she was invited by George P. Schultz, then director of the U. S. Office of Management and Budget during the administration of President Nixon, to work in the White House, where she prepared reports and charts for the Board of Economic Advisors. She also worked for Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States and became a licensed Chartered Life Underwriter. She later was associated with the insurance brokerage firm of Alexander & Alexander. She became a licensed pilot for single engine aircraft and was licensed to fly commercial planes, one of about 1500 women with such a license. She was an active member of The Ninety Nines, the International Organization of Women Pilots, having served as a Vice Governor. She was a world traveler and visited every continent as well as the North Pole and Antarctica. Miss Simsarian is survived by her brother Edward and his wife Lowerre of Worcester, Massachusetts, her nieces Ellen and Sarah, both of New York, and her nephew David of Yarmouth, Maine. Her brother Kenneth predeceased her. A Memorial Service will be held at a date to be announced in the spring of 2020. Contributions in lieu of flowers may be made to Mount Holyoke College, Advancement Office, 50 College Street, South Hadley, MA 01075, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Medieval Department for the Support of Armenian Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10028, or to a charity of the donor\’s choice. For more information, please contact Callahan, Fay & Caswell Funeral Home, WORCESTER, MA (508-755-1500) or visit www.callahanfay.com.
Eugenia Earle Faison: 1922 – 2019
Eugenia Earle Faison, an American harpsichordist, artist-scholar of Baroque music, and esteemed teacher, died February 26, 2019 in Arlington, VA after a brief illness. She was born in Birmingham, AL in 1922, the sixth child of Rosa Munger Earle and Paul Hamilton Earle. Her early childhood years were spent on Cotton Avenue in Birmingham in the neighborhood surrounding Arlington, the home of her maternal grandparents, Robert Sylvester Munger and Mary Collett Munger. Eugenia felt that her early interest in the piano came from growing up in a home filled with music. Her mother Rosa was a pianist and a devoted concert-goer, who welcomed visiting performers to the Earle home for after-concert musical evenings. Eugenia attended Barnard College and graduated from Birmingham-Southern College. Immediately after graduation, Eugenia left Birmingham for New York City to continue studying piano. From that time on, New York was her true home. Eugenia began her study of the harpsichord and early music in Vienna in 1952. Upon returning to New York, she embarked on a performing and teaching career in harpsichord and piano, including both solo performances and as a member of groups and orchestras, including the New York Baroque Ensemble and the New York City Opera.
Eugenia was a lecturer in theory, harpsichord, and piano pedagogy in the School of Sacred Music of Union Theological Seminary from 1965 to 1973, when the school moved to Yale.
Beginning in 1980, she taught harpsichord and counterpoint for over 25 years at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she obtained her doctorate in music theory.
In 1969, Eugenia and Dr. Jere Faison, a physician, were married. They enjoyed their years of New York life in Jere\’s home and roof garden in the Village and in her studio apartment with piano and harpsichord on West 84th. Summers, they traveled to their rustic camp in Vermont. Jere and Eugenia kept up with both their families by frequent visits around the United States for weddings, births, and reunions.
Eugenia was an enthusiastic and adventurous traveler. As a young woman she hiked in the Pyrenees, the Alps and the Dolomites. Later treasured adventures included a visit to Nebraska to see the migration of the Sandhill Cranes; touring Europe to see, hear, and play the instruments Bach had known; and traveling to Egypt in 2004 and to China and Tibet in 2005 in her eighties.
Eugenia, known to friends and family as Genie, was preceded in death by her beloved husband Jere; sisters Mary Collett Earle Black, Rosa Earle Partlow, and Katherine Earle Fulenwider; and brothers, Paul Hamilton Earle, Jr. and Samuel Lowndes Earle.
She is survived by loving nieces and nephews and great-nieces and great-nephews, with whom she maintained close and sustaining relationships her whole life. Genie\’s independence, her devotion to family, and her delightful sense of humor inspired admiration and love in her friends and relatives. Family and friends will honor Eugenia later in the summer at a private service.
Published on NYTimes.com from May 8 to May 9, 2019
Margaretta H. Lundell: April 26, 1941 – April 6, 2020
Margaretta died April 6, 2020 of complications from the Coronavirus. She was 78 years old. Affectionately known as ‘Margo’, she grew up in Short Hills, NJ and graduated from Kent Place School in Summit, NJ. She received a BA from Smith College and attended the Yale Drama School. Later, she would earn a masters degree in social work from Fordham University. Margo worked as a children’s book author and editor for many years. Later, as a therapist, she went in to private practice and helped many people. She lived in New York City her entire adult life. She is survived by her beloved son, Erik R. Lundell, of Manhattan, and a brother, John C. Hover II, of New Hope, PA.
A memorial service is planned for later this year at The First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York.
The Rev. Richard F. Pease, MDiv., MSW: December 31, 1932 – March 28, 2020
Dick was born and raised in Pasadena, CA. He graduated from Occidental College
(Los Angeles, CA) in 1954, Union Theological Seminary (New York City) in 1957, and Hunter College School of Social Work (New York City) in 1978.
Three churches played prominent roles in Dick’s life: Pasadena Presbyterian Church, Central Presbyterian Church (Syracuse, NY), and First Presbyterian Church in the City of New York.
- The Pasadena church filled the void left by Dick’s absent father by providing acceptance, encouragement, and role models, most significantly, The Rev. Eugene Carson Blake who became a life-long friend. Dick cleaned the Church House on Saturdays in preparation for Sundays, sang in the Boy Choir, participated in the Youth Program, and at 19 was hired as Director of Youth. In 1954, he went East to attend Union Theological Seminary.
- When he graduated from seminary in 1957, the Presbyterian Board of Missions offered him a project in Syracuse, NY, to encourage residents of Pioneer Homes (mostly people of color) to become members of Central Presbyterian Church (mostly white). He was ordained at Central on June 7, 1957. By the time in left in 1961, twenty-nine residents of Pioneer Homes had joined Central.
- Dick left Syracuse to join the staff of New York City Mission Society where he directed their year-round camping program for 17 years. He was living on the Lower East Side and started attending First Church. When his children were old enough, they were enrolled in Church School. In 1983, he married his second wife at First. In1993, he became a Parish Associate, counseling walk-ins and members of the congregation on behalf of the Board of Deacons. In 2005, he initiated the program of mission-service trips which was operational until 2013. With the help of a committee, from 2006 to 2018 he spearheaded programs for seniors.
Because he was never on the staff of a congregation, the Presbytery had to designate all his positions as “valid extensions” of his ministry. In addition to his work in Syracuse and with New York City Mission Society, his career in New York City included serving as
- Director, Child Care Division, Episcopal Mission Society, which encompassed a shelter for 90 adolescents, several group homes, and therapeutic foster homes whose parents received special training
- Assistant Director, St. Margaret’s House, a HUD facility for the elderly and disabled, sponsored by Trinity Episcopal Church
- Director of Home Care, New York Foundation for Senior Citizens
- Secretary for Institutional Ministries, Board of Global Ministries, United Methodist Church. [Liaison to institutions housed on properties owned by the Women’s Division. His portfolio included programs in Alaska, Arkansas, California, Georgia, Louisiana, and Nebraska.]
- Geriatric Coordinator, New York Downtown Hospital [Establishing and overseeing offices in housing complexes with a majority population of older people. The offices made available all the resources of the hospital as well as the Visiting Nurse Service of New York.]
In addition to his wife Georgia, he is survived by his children (Kimberly Pease, Richard Kirk Pease, and Karyn Crounse), five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. His sister Patricia Gibbs predeceased him.
A memorial service will be held at First Church once the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted.
Donations can be made to Stony Point Center (17 Cricketown Road, Stony Point, NY 10980-3299), a national conference center of the Presbyterian Church (USA). Dick considered the Center’s Community of Living Traditions – Christian, Jewish, Muslim – to be doing the most significant work of the denomination.
Elisabet Rubert (Lis): 1955-2020
Elisabet Rubert (Lis), age 64, passed away peacefully on Sunday, April 12, 2020, at Lenox Health Greenwich Village in N.Y. She was born on September 25, 1955, in Sancti-Spiritus, Las Villas, Cuba, to Miguel E. Rubert and Celedonia Lopez. Lis attended Joseph F. Brandt Middle School and graduated from Hoboken High School in 1974. She worked at Sak’s 5Th Avenue in N.Y. for 30 years as a beauty consultant displaying remarkable consulting and sales skills. There she developed a following which included the late Jackie Kennedy and many others. Lis truly lived her life to the fullest through simple pleasures reading avidly, gourmet cooking, and visiting friends and family. She traveled extensively throughout the world, and she had an uncanny ability to reach people in a deep and positive way. Lis was married to Dale Pon, who also passed away on Wednesday, April 29, 2020, at Lenox Hill Hospital in N.Y. During the last years of her life, she found profound happiness devoting herself to the care of her beloved husband. Lis attended and was an active participant in the First Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. She is survived by her brothers Joel and Edson Rubert, her niece Gabrielle Matusevich, and her nephews Derik, Julian and Christian Rubert. In addition, she has left behind an extensive family of cousins and uncles as well as the family of friends she created along the way. A memorial service will be announced in the future.
Elinor F. Downs: September 19, 1911-April 13, 2020
Dr. Elinor Whitney Fosdick Downs died of natural causes on April 13, 2020 at Springhouse, her Residential Community in Jamaica Plain, MA at the age of 108, embraced in person by her daughter and (virtually) by her son, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and extended family who were with her in spirit but could not be present because of the coronavirus.
Her life can only be described as remarkable. Dr. Downs, the daughter of Harry Emerson Fosdick the noted pastor of Riverside Church in NY City, grew up in Montclair, NJ and the Union Theological Seminary in New York City where the family lived while her father was the minister at Riverside. She attended the Horace Mann High School in New York and then went to Smith College along with her sister Dorothy Fosdick and a cousin Ginny Whitney.
When she graduated from Smith College in 1933 with a desire to be a doctor, she was told that no school would admit her because of gender bias. She said, “Well at least I can try”, and was admitted to her first choice, Johns Hopkins in Baltimore. When she graduated, she was informed that no hospital would give her an internship. She said, “Well at least I can try”, and was given an internship at Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester in 1937. There she met her future husband, Dr. Roger Downs, who was a resident physician.
She specialized in pediatrics, and after finishing her pediatric training, she married Roger on Mouse Island in Boothbay Harbor, ME in the summer of 1939. On December 7, 1941, (ironically Pearl Harbor Day), the two opened a practice together in Litchfield Connecticut. However, Roger was drafted into the Navy in Oct 1942 leaving Elinor to keep the practice going. Roger died in 1945 while preparing for the anticipated invasion of Japan, leaving her with two young children, Patricia and Stephen. She never remarried.
After the death of her husband Dr. Downs moved with her children to New York to live with her parents and became the Bronxville School physician where her children were enrolled. In 1948, she moved with her two children to Geneva Switzerland to work at the World Health Organization focusing on global health issues, returning two years later to the US.
After her experiences in world health issues, public health became her career focus. She joined the American Public Health Association where she wrote state of the art documents highlighting the public health perspectives on polio prevention, mental health programs, and programs for children with disabilities among others. In 1960 she joined the faculty of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University where she had an extremely significant impact on building the maternal and child health programs at the School. As a Fellow in Epidemiology, she did pioneering field work on Nutritional Epidemiology in Arab Refugee camps in the Middle East, introduced scores of students from around the world to the public health functions of New York City, and rose to become the Associate Dean of the school before she retired in 1981. As one of the few women on the faculty she was often assigned administrative tasks that her male associates declined, but her work ethic made her a major positive force in the vital behind-the-scenes work of the School.
After retiring at the age of 70, Dr. Downs embarked on a life of adventure, visiting the Arctic, Antarctic, Amazon basin, China, Africa, South America, and the Middle East, making many friends around the world in the process.
A lifelong interest in archeology that had been kindled by her childhood discoveries of Native American artifacts on the beaches of Maine, blossomed in retirement. She took her archeological career very seriously and enrolled in classes in Harvard’s Graduate School, MIT and the University of Massachusetts Boston. Some of her papers were published including one that alerted both researchers and archaeologists to the need for caution in reporting and interpreting unconfirmed test results on ancient blood proteins. Archeology also gave her and her archeological colleagues, many of whom were generations younger, opportunities to travel to exotic places including Belize, South Korea, and the plains in the American Southwest.
She developed into a noted artist who won awards for her paintings, cartoons, and archeological drawings. She entered the annual contest for senior artists offered by the Secretary of State and always won a prize. She entertained the residents of Springhouse with many of her paintings and cartoons over the 25 years she lived there.
She never seemed to get old, and after she wrote her autobiography, she kept having to write updated versions because her life continued to be active and interesting well into her century of existence. She finally stopped driving (stick shift!) at 101when her license expired and she was afraid the Registry would query her abilities. She was never happier than when she was on a beach near her summer home in Southport ME., beachcombing for artifacts that she eventually donated to the University of Maine at Orono for students to use.
Known as “Fuzzy” for her soft frizzy hair, and “Omi” by her family, she was treasured by all for her warmth, simplicity, humor, humility, and her beguiling smile, all of which created an impression of openness, accessibility and wisdom. She avoided disasters by calling them “adventures” and revelled in living life fully. She could make people laugh with her quick and intuitive remarks. At a recent party for centenarians she was asked what was her secret to longevity. She thought a minute and said “I just don’t die”. In her Autobiography “Who Am I?” she wrote about herself ”I am proud of my heritage and take comfort in the strength of my background. Along with my kinky hair, I must have inherited a certain sense of personal and social responsibility, a spirit of adventure, a touch of ease with non-conformity, and a streak of independence. I don’t need to seek status or recognition – I feel free! And as I look ahead to the future, I like to imagine that I am a conduit to the next generation, my children, my grandchildren, and my great grandchildren.”
She is survived by her daughter Dr. Patricia Downs Berger of Brookline MA, her son, Stephen F. Downs, Esq, of Albany NY, her grandchildren, Margot Downs and Paul Faulstich of Yarmouth ME, Roger Downs and Meredith Hummel, of New Baltimore NY, Philip Downs and Jillian Downs-Wooten, of Durham NC., Ilana Berger and Eli Dueker of Kingston NY, Shana Berger, of Somerville MA, and her nine great grandchildren, Ava and Louise Downs, Hazel and Henry Downs, Maya and Anna Faulstich, Hannah Dueker, Rosie Berger, and Isaiah Berger. In her final years, she was supported by several dedicated home health aides, who made it possible for her to remain in her own apartment as she desired – particularly Brenda Morris, Makda Mulat and Haregwin Tedla.
Celebrations of life will be held on future dates in the Boston area and burial in Southport, ME. Contributions may be made in Fuzzy’s memory to:
Riverside Church Social Justice Fund: https://www.trcnyc.org/honoringelinor/
Care Fund for Domestic Workers: https://domesticworkers.org/coronavirus-care-fund
Boothbay Region Student Aid Fund: http://www.brsaf.org/
Charles Jerome Smith: August 23, 1933-June 27, 2020
Charles J. Smith, 86, passed away peacefully at his home in New York City on June 27 following a long illness. Born on Staten Island on Aug. 23, 1933, he is survived by his wife of 49 years, Mary O’Hara Smith; children, Sheryl Davis (Herman), Jerome Smith (Arlene), Sheelagh Allston (Adam), and Cormac Smith (Rosanne Howell); grandchildren Philip and Vanessa Smith, Oji Nembhard, Jerome, Lateefah, Hassan, Jaryl, Felicia, Jonathan, and Jason Smith, Ayden and Chase Allston, and Royce Howell-Smith, daughter-in-law Tiffany Ramzy, and several great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his parents, Charles K. and Mary W. Smith, his brother, Wayne Derrick, and his son, Charles A. Smith. Charles graduated from Curtis High School and in 1960 earned a BA degree in economics and business administration from Wagner College. In 1985 he completed an MPS in Health Care Administration at the New School University in New York. He worked for Mutual of New York Insurance Company before joining the NYC Health & Hospitals Corp., where he worked from 1972 – 1995 at Harlem Hospital and Sea View Hospital on Staten Island. After retiring from HHC, he worked as a registered representative for First Investors Corp. and from 1995 until 2017 in sales for Columbian Mutual Life Insurance Company. Although he lived in Manhattan for many years, he remained a Staten Islander at heart. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to his family church, St. Philips Baptist Church, 77 Bennett St., Staten Island NY 10302. Arrangements are pending with Stradford Funeral Home.