On October 22, 2013, Elsie Jeanette Robertson McPherson began her journey into the Land of Perpetual Light. Both of her daughters and her only granddaughter were by her bedside as she departed.
Elsie was born in Granite, Oklahoma, on August 22, 1918, to Lance T. and Isabelle J. Robertson. The second child of six and the first daughter, she was sandwiched between her two brothers. She quickly became a tomboy and helped build a tree house with her younger brother in the front yard. A fall from said tree house resulted in a broken arm, but it didn't deter her from trying to keep up with her brothers.
Moving from one small Oklahoma town to another as the daughter of a school superintendent, Elsie eventually started college in Conway, Arkansas, living with her maternal grandmother and later transferred to Southeastern Teachers' College in Durant, Oklahoma. Even though a self-proclaimed tomboy, she was quite beautiful and had many college beauty queen titles under her belt including band queen, football queen, and top 10 most beautiful by the time she graduated in 1940.
Following graduation, Elsie and her Warrant Officer husband spent time traveling from army base to army base and after WWII, they settled down in Oklahoma. She taught high school business courses early in her career and later became both a supporter and promoter of the arts, culture, and the environment including the Philbrook Museum of Art and the Garden Center in Tulsa which she served as Director. Retiring in 1985, Elsie moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to be closer to her younger daughter and where she continued to work periodically and to enjoy the many and varied opportunities to explore that region. In 2012 at the age of 94 after spending eight years living independently in Napa, California, she moved to Austin, Texas, to live with her older daughter. During this last year of her life, she spent any time she could with her four great grandsons and attended many a basketball and football game. Her last football game was a month ago as she cheered on Austin High at House Park.
In addition to her moves from city to city (she once claimed to have counted up to 36 different places she had lived before she lost count!), Elsie also traveled throughout the US as well as to Italy, England, Scotland, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands and Russia. "Have bag, will travel" could well have been her motto.
Elsie loved to make memories through home movies, slides and photos. She also loved to share those memories with family and friends. Some of her other favorite things, especially later in life, were receiving letters and cards, going to art museums and on other cultural outings, and being out in nature. She was very fond of dining at fancy restaurants (particularly ones that served crab cakes). Elsie also truly thought that ice cream made a fine meal and subscribed to the theory that life was short so it was perfectly fine to eat dessert first.
Elsie enjoyed being a little eccentric and something of an "Auntie Mame." She was not afraid to share her opinions on many topics, especially politics. She loved Jeopardy, the Wheel of Fortune, and PBS. Up until the last 2 weeks of her life one of her favorite things to do was to have a glass of wine in the late afternoon as she watched Jeopardy, and she enjoyed having other family members join her. And, she was still beating some of the contestants at answering the questions up until the end of her long and full life. An avid crossword solver, when asked why she was looking at the answers in the back of the book, Elsie replied that this was how she learned new words once she had all those she knew filled in.
Elsie will be deeply missed by her family and friends. In addition to her parents, she was pre-deceased by her two brothers, L.T., Jr. and Keith; sister, Leona Evans; grandson, Scott Amis; niece, Carol Evans Ballard; son-in-law, James Amis; three brothers-in-law, Larry Beard, David Carter, and Ralph Evans; and ex-husband, Leonard A. McPherson. She is survived by her sisters, Lenore Beard and Reba Carter; her daughters, Judith Amis and Anni and her husband Robert Minuzzo; her son, Phillip McPherson; granddaughter Kelly and her husband Nick von Kreisler; grandsons Clint and Lance McPherson; great grandsons Alex, Aaron, Kirk and Kyle von Kreisler; and many wonderful nieces, nephews, and cousins.
The family would like to thank friends for the many kindnesses they have shown and to the caregivers at Hospice Austin who so generously gave of their time to keep Elsie comfortable, especially Jody, Melissa, and Janet.
Memorial services will be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Austin at 4:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 5, 2013. A celebration of Elsie's life will be take place immediately following the service at Chez Zee, 5406 Balcones Drive. Interment will be in the Robertson family plot with her parents and both brothers at Oak Hill Cemetery, McAlester, Oklahoma, at 12:00 noon, November 13, 2013.
In lieu of flowers, raise a glass of wine or have a double scoop of ice cream and, if so inclined, make a donation in Elsie's name to Hospice Austin, 4107 Spicewood Springs Road, Suite 100, Austin 78759, to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or to the
Published in Austin American-Statesman from Nov. 3 to Nov. 4, 2013