SALAMANCA - Alta Flanigan Elsen, lifelong resident of Salamanca, passed away peacefully on the afternoon of Monday (March 19, 2012), following a short illness. She was 82.
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She was the devoted wife of John Francis Elsen, who predeceased her on April 22, 2010, shortly before their 62nd wedding anniversary. Born on July 26, 1929, she was the daughter of the late Daniel J. and Marie (Adams) Flanigan and sister to the late Brian Flanigan, all of Salamanca.
Mrs. Elsen attended St. Patrick's Parochial School and graduated with the Class of 1947 from Salamanca High School where she excelled as a student and distinguished herself as an athlete, student leader, actress and singer. Throughout her life, she was known for her beautiful singing voice, curly blond hair and piercing blue eyes.
She married the love of her life, "Johnnie" Elsen, on May 8, 1948. She and her husband were founding members of the "Mr. and Mrs. Club" of St. Patrick's Church in Salamanca where she was a devoted and active parishioner her entire life. She was a member of the Altar and Rosary Society and could always be counted upon to fervently work her rosary beads in prayer over the wants and needs of others. She was generous in spirit and time, giving of herself to many causes and organizations throughout her lifetime, including several years as a volunteer at the Salamanca Public Library.
In addition to raising her four children, Mrs. Elsen worked for many years outside the home as a switchboard operator for Bell Telephone Company. She later applied her love of books and passion for reading to her work as a teacher aide in the Junior-Senior High School Library for the Salamanca City Central School District. She very much enjoyed the company of young people and proudly watched a generation of Salamanca kids grow up before retiring in 1991 after 12 years in this role.
Mrs. Elsen was an accomplished artist, creating works in various media and materials. She painted, knitted, sewed and worked with intricate crafts. She loved to hike the hillside above the Sweetwater Spring in the Allegany State Park, searching out various mosses and berries for her lovely terrariums. She also scoured the hills and trails around her home for the wild blackberries she picked by hand and transformed into the incredible homemade pies for which she was widely noted. She was a member of Elkdale Country Club for most of her life and, in her younger years she was an avid golfer and skier, but she remained a sports fan her entire life. She enjoyed cheering the high school sports teams, watching her Buffalo Bills and following basketball, especially college teams. She was widely traveled and, along with her husband and children, she enjoyed many adventures around the world. She and her husband were perhaps best known for their talent on the dance floor and until recent years, they continued to dance at every opportunity.
Mrs. Elsen's greatest pleasure in life was her family. She will be deeply missed by her children and their spouses: Stephen J. and Virginia Elsen of Ventura, Calif., David G. and Geri Anne Elsen of Ellicottville, Daniel F. Elsen of Sausalito, Calif., Mary Katherine "Sam" Elsen and Michael J. Naimoli of Strafford, Pa.
She was the beloved grandmother to her two precious and adoring grandchildren, Sean and Maya Naimoli. She is also survived by her sister-in-law, Betty Elsen; beloved niece and goddaughter, Elaine Elsen; and nieces and nephews, Jean and Frank Pascarella, Kathie Elsen Hobbs, Joe and Damie Elsen, as well as many beautiful grand and great-grandnieces and nephews. A special place in her heart was reserved for her grandnephew, Greg Spako, and his significant other, Shawna Gursky, whose unfailing love, compassion and concern gave her great joy and comfort.
She was a warm and compassionate person who loved to laugh. Her sense of humor never left her and despite all that she endured in recent weeks, she remained characteristically kind, gracious and dignified. She leaves behind countless friends, near and far, as well as a devoted group of caregivers who made it possible for her to live happily and comfortably in her own home up until her recent illness.
The family wishes to invite all friends and relatives to join them for a memorial service and Celebration of Mrs. Elsen's life on Sunday (May 27, 2012) at Elkdale Country Club beginning at 1 p.m.
Mrs. Elsen supported many charitable causes throughout her life and she would be honored to have memorial contributions made in her name to the Salamanca Public Library, the Salamanca Professional Firefighters Association or to the
Published in The Salamanca Press from Apr. 2 to May 2, 2012