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Elise Shafer Topp


1925 - 2019
Elise Shafer Topp Obituary
Elise Shafer Topp

"Life is a blessing. To die fulfilled, an even greater one."

The full and meaningful life of Elise Shafer Topp came to an end on September 15, 2019.

Elise Shafer Topp was born in Seattle on August 15, 1925, the daughter of Julius and Betty Shafer. She was one of 5 children, falling in the middle between her brother, Norton, and sisters Harriet, Gloria and Sylvia, all who predeceased her. The family lived in a historic home on Capitol Hill and spent summers at the tip of Three Tree Point. When Elise and her siblings looked back, they would say their upbringing and family life were an experience and an adventure filled with love, laughter, music, and lots of structure.

Elise attended Broadway High School and at the same time, Cornish College of the Arts for elocution and drama lessons. She was briefly matriculated at the University of Washington, where she joined the AEPhi sorority and majored in drama. She learned to play the piano at an early age and had an ability to sit down at a piano and play any type of music in front of her.

In 1946, Elise's Uncle, Sampson Goodglick, introduced Elise by happenstance to William Topp. Sampson intended to fix up Bill with one of Elise's sisters, who turned out to be busy that night. So, instead, Elise started dating Bill and on their third date, he proposed! Four months later, they married. They had four daughters, Diane, Cindy, Kathy and Julie. Elise and Bill were the loves of each other's lives for just over 50 years. Their favorite way to spend an evening together was to dine at Trader Vic's for pupus and dinner sharing a Queen's Park Swizzle and Scorpion topped with a gardenia.

In 1965, a fire swept the home Elise and Bill lived in, destroying most everything inside of it. It was through the decorator who helped restore the beauty of their home that Elise realized a love of antiques and particularly art. Several years later, Elise became a docent at the Seattle Art Museum and went on to become a Docent Laureate after 35 years of leading groups on tours there. Her love of art also spurred on her fashion sense. Elise looked stunning in anything she wore, always accessorizing with wonderful costume jewelry found on the various trips they enjoyed.

Travel was another of Elise's passions. With her husband, Bill, and even after he passed away, Elise flew and cruised to far away locations she'd yearned to visit. She was always interested in the culture of the countries, the architecture and, let's be honest, retail opportunities of the cities she traveled to. As a patron of the Seattle Art Museum and the Seattle Repertory Theater, she traveled with those groups to other U.S. cities to see private art collections and enjoy the theater those cities had to offer.

Elise, deemed the "hostess with the mostest" by her loving husband, was known for hosting events and beautiful, delicious dinner parties at their Denny Blaine home and Belltown condominium. Dessert was often a variety of Elise's fabulous homemade cookies placed decoratively on gorgeous silver platters. Everything she did exhibited an attention to detail second to none and garnered the appreciation of her delighted guests. The love of entertaining is a legacy Elise passed down to her daughters and grandchildren.

As a volunteer, Elise was active in the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Center Foundation, Seattle Junior Programs, Seattle Repertory Theater, City of Hope, Cornish College of the Arts and Temple De Hirsch Sinai. Quietly, Elise worked to change a corner of downtown Seattle from a distressed property to a city park. When her daughter, Diane, was diagnosed with MS, she also tried her best, unfortunately to no avail, to somehow make airplanes more accessible for people with disabilities.

Elise's life was indeed fulfilled. She will be remembered for providing a legacy of love and gracefulness to her immediate and extended family; for her warm smile and welcoming ways; for the many activities she participated in as a volunteer; for her passion and mastery of entertaining; for her fabulous sense of style, strength, graciousness, independence, and

interest in others; for being a nurturing role model and friend to many including baristas in the

coffee shops she frequented in the neighborhoods she lived; for her interest in art and the art of wit (she collected as many joke books as art books), her enjoyment of reading mostly non

fiction books borrowed from the Bellevue Library; her determination to stay fit by exercising three days a week; and, her quiet, but powerful community activism, Elise was predeceased by her loving husband, Bill, in 1997. Elise and her family also suffered the heartbreaking loss of her daughter, Diane, due to Multiple Sclerosis, in December of 2017.

Elise is survived by her adoring children, Cindy and Bob Masin, Kathy and Mark Fishman, Julie Faison, and son-in-law Mike Cheifetz; by her devoted grandchildren, David and Anne Masin, Lesley and Jeff Grosvenor, Sarah Fishman, Todd and Bekah Fishman, and Ali Faison; and her dear great grandchildren, Grant and Ella Masin, Evie and Poppy Grosvenor, and Ari and Shafer Fishman and by many beloved nieces, great nieces, nephews and great nephews.

Services will be held on Wednesday, September 18th at 11 am at Butterworth-Arthur Wright Chapel, 520 West Raye Street in Seattle.

Elise was especially grateful for all the caring staff at the Bellettini, The Springs at Pacific

Regent and Providence Hospice. Even toward the end of her life, Elise was saying "Thank you, thank you" to everyone who helped her along the way. In Elise's honor, remembrances can be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, Virginia Mason Foundation Pancreaticobiliary Fund, c/o Dr. Vincent Picozzi, Temple De Hirsch-Sinai or any charity of your choosing.
Published in The Seattle Times from Sept. 16 to Sept. 17, 2019
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