Eleanor Peters Lesser

Eleanor Peters Lesser passed away at RiverMead Lifecare Community in Peterborough, N.H., on January 11, 2021, at the age of 94. She was pre-deceased by her hus-band of 70 years, Jack, who died in November 2020.

Ellie was born on July 8, 1926, in Warren, Pa., to Francis R. “Frank” and Marguerite Harrington Peters, and grew up in Ir-vine, Pa. She was a concert pianist, having graduated from the Warren Conserva-tory of Music, as well as Warren Area High School. She also held a degree in Home Economics from Se-ton Hill in Greensburg, Pa., and taught Home Econom-ics at Warren Area High School. As a young wom-an, she loved her summers working at Chautauqua in exchange for room and board and music lessons.

On her birthday in 1950, she married John D. “Jack” Lesser, her high school sweetheart and a recent gra-duate of the United States Naval Academy at Annapo-lis. During Jack’s years in the service they lived in Denison, Texas, Las Vegas, Nev., Chandler, Ariz. and Smithton, Ill.. When in Las Vegas, Jack said Ellie never came home from the gro-cery store with any pennies in her change purse, thanks to the penny slot machines located just past the cashier. Jack and Ellie moved back to Warren with two young boys in 1954 then, in 1962, moved one daughter and four boys to Custer City/Bradford, Pa., where their second daughter was born. They moved to Big Flats/Corning, N.Y. as the New Year of 1974 arrived with the two children who still lived at home. In 1983, they joined those few year-round residents who called Chautauqua “home” in a house they built a few years earlier. She and Jack loved Chau-tauqua for its rich mix of arts, music, theater, litera-ture and civil discourse. It’s numerous recreational opportunities and natural surroundings made it per-fect for family gatherings. They made their last move in 2011, when they settled into a more restful life with their many new friends and the caring staff of River-Mead.

Ellie was a devoted wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She served in many volunteer activities throughout her life, including Cub Scout den mother, PTA, AAUW, Meals-on-Wheels, refugee settlement, and Literacy. She was active in many prayer and Bible study groups and served on several committees of the Chautauqua Catholic Com-munity, and was a past-president of the CCC. Ellie maintained friendships the old fashioned way, al-ways delighting in sending and receiving cards and letters in the mail.

Like many of her genera-tion, Ellie spent endless hours raising a family. She steered her children to the library, the YMCA, to Cub Scouts and Boys Scouts and to other activities that would help foster in them a sense of personal and civic responsibility and an ap-preciation for volunteerism. Ellie had a hand-rung, brass school-bell which could be heard all over the neighbor-hood. In the small com-munity of North Warren, Ellie would shoo the chil-dren outdoors to do chores and play with the admoni-tion, “When you hear the bell, come home for lunch.” The bell became significant for other mothers, too, who would tell their own chil-dren, “when Mrs. Lesser rings the bell, come home for lunch.” Ellie supported all of their children’s re-quests for pets, including rabbits, puppies, turtles, Tillie (the attack cat), Petunia (let’s call her George-For-Short) the de-scented skunk, Ralph & Alice (the aggressive Ban-tam chickens) and a horse. When the family grew and moved to the Bradford area, Ellie became one of the first “Uber” drivers, ferry-ing her children to places too far to reach on a bicy-cle. She always welcomed into her home their friends who still remember wonderful tobogganing and pizza parties.

Ellie loved playing bridge and was a serious competitor when playing with regular gatherings of friends. She also hosted large Christmas caroling parties, roving the neigh-borhood to sing to neigh-bors, shut-ins and nursing home residents, with tables full of sweet treats and hot chocolate and cider after-wards.

Ellie served as First Mate as she and Jack sailed the waters of Cayuga Lake and Lake Chautauqua aboard The Pixie, and she enjoyed quiet outings with Jack to fly his model airplanes. Her sharp eyes came to the rescue when Jack would say, “Eleanor, I’ve lost sight of it — can you see it?” Jack and Ellie traveled through a lot of the U.S. and enjoyed the experience of other cultures and landscapes in their travels to Europe and Asia. To maintain family tradition (and to be sure the boys’ wives knew what was im-portant) Ellie (and Jack) as-sembled and gave to each of the children a large cookbook containing re-cipes for the family’s favor-ite meals and treats, which were collected from family and her many friends across the country.

When children and grandchildren visited they always said “Yes!” to Ellie’s suggestion for a game of Train Dominos or “Mobbles” and would spend hours in hilarious fun, gathered around the dining room table. The grandchildren will always remember their favorite treats at Grandma’s — Jel-lo popsicles and Chex snack mix — and their time in the basement playroom at Chautauqua, with its pool table, games, travel souvenirs and quirky gadg-ets made by Grandpa Jack.

Jack and Ellie had six children: Kathy Callahan (John) of Littleton, Colo.; David Lesser (Rosemary) of Ogden, Utah; Tom Lesser (Kathy) of Freder-ick, Md.; the Rev. Rick Lesser of Albany, N.Y.; Jim Lesser (Liz) of Belfast, Maine; and Mary Lesser of Peterborough, N.H., who devoted countless hours to the well-being of Jack and Ellie during their residence at RiverMead. She is also survived by 18 grandchil-dren and 23 great-gran-dchildren.

The family wishes to ex-press our deepest apprecia-tion for the love and care shown to Ellie by the staff at RiverMead. She al-ways spoke highly of everyone who works there and praised their dedication to make life comfortable and enjoyable for all River-Mead residents, a task made so much harder by the COVID pandemic.

Due to restrictions im-posed by the COVID pan-demic, a celebration of life service will be scheduled at a later date.

Jack and Ellie will be in-terred together at a later date at Mt. Savior, the Benedictine Monastery in Pine City, N.Y., where both were oblates; that is, they had both committed to liv-ing in the spirit of the Rule of St. Benedict.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to any of the charities close to Ellie’s heart: The Shriners Hospital for Children; the Monadnock Area Transi-tional Shelter (http://matsnh.org/); the Chautauqua Catholic Com-munity (https://www.chautauquacatholics.org/donate); your local Catholic Chari-ties organization.