ELAINE E. GESSOW

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4 entries
  • "May Elaine rest in peace. May her life continue to inspire..."
    - Elizabeth Groven
  • "Paul and I have wonderful memories of your family on Durbin..."
  • "Elaine was a wonderful wife and mother, a great hostess and..."
    - Bill Schneider
  • "Condolences to the Gessow family on the loss of Elaine. May..."
    - Ronne Kweller
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GESSOW ELAINE EUNICE SILVERMAN GESSOW Elaine Eunice Silverman Gessow passed away peacefully on January 2, 2014, surrounded by family and friends that loved and admired her. An amazingly remarkable, but very approachable woman, "Mama Elaine" as she was affectionately called, was defined by her vivaciousness, self-confidence, cheerful disposition, zest for life, and positive attitude. Mrs. Gessow impacted the lives of those around her by her selfless acts of kindness, her generous heart, and her sage advice and counsel. The focus of her life was her family, her religion, and children. Mrs. Gessow was a remarkable role model for how to lead a happy, productive and ultimately rewarding life. Born in Baltimore, Maryland on September 4, 1925, Mrs. Gessow was the adored only child of Jack David and Jean Silverman and was a devoted and loving daughter to them. Mrs. Gessow was raised in Newport News, Virginia where she worked in her parents' clothing stores everyday after school. After high school, Mrs. Gessow went to college when few women from her small town did. After graduating from Madison College with a Bachelor's Degree in Education, Mrs. Gessow returned to Newport News where she taught most grades in the elementary school, including boys' physical education. Mrs. Gessow met the love of her life, Alfred Gessow, a young aeronautical engineer from New York working at the Langley Research Center of the National Advisory Committee on Aeronautics (the predecessor to NASA). They married on November 23, 1947. Throughout their married life, Mrs. Gessow was completely devoted and dedicated to Professor Gessow, and he to her. When they started their family, Mrs. Gessow retired from teaching to stay home with their children. An active volunteer and leader in many civic organizations, Mrs. Gessow organized talent shows, fundraisers, Madison alumni programs, taught Sunday School at her synagogue, started a Jewish summer day camp for children, was president of the local Hadassah chapter and her synagogue Sisterhood. While her youngest two children were still toddlers, Mrs. Gessow returned to school and obtained a Masters Degree in Education from the College of William and Mary, commuting to her classes in Williamsburg, Virginia. After her family's move to the Washington, D.C. area in 1959, Mrs. Gessow received a further advanced degree in education from the University of Maryland, where she worked as a counselor. While raising their four children, Mrs. Gessow continued her community service activities. She was a dedicated volunteer for many years at WTOP's Call for Action in Washington, D.C., a consumer advocacy group, training all of their volunteers. She was a longtime volunteer at Suburban Hospital in Bethesda, Maryland and a CASA volunteer. At her synagogue, Mrs. Gessow served on the Board of Education, chairing the Committee several times, and started the synagogue outreach program to college students, which later developed into the College Connection Committee. When Professor Gessow passed away in May 2002 after 54 wonderful years of married life, Mrs. Gessow added new activities to her agenda and was co-president of a widow and widower's social group in Washington, D.C. She later moved to Birmingham to be closer to her daughter Lisa Michelson, her husband Dr. Marc Michelson whom she considered a son, and their daughters Jennifer and Courtney. Mrs. Gessow was artistically talented and cultivated many interests. From the international trips she took with Professor Gessow and from their periods living abroad, Mrs. Gessow was an incredible cook, combining ethnic cuisine with Kosher Jewish recipes. She always had plenty of food for extra people around the table, whether they were relatives, friends of children, or visiting business colleagues of Professor Gessow. An avid gardener, Mrs. Gessow planted flowers every season, making beautiful floral arrangements for the house. Mrs. Gessow loved to cross-stitch, embroider, knit baby clothes and college blankets for her children and grandchildren, and was well-known for her coveted unique baby blankets she crocheted. These individualized baby blankets remain prized possessions of their recipients many years later. Mrs. Gessow loved reading period romance novels and would bring home a bagful of books from the library to read. Mrs. Gessow loved to dance, sing, paint, draw, work crossword puzzles, and engage in long telephone conversations with her friends. She created a very loving, happy home for her family, where education was stressed, and where all Jewish holidays and traditions were observed. Mrs. Gessow led a great life, was well loved and well respected. Mrs. Gessow is survived by her children, Lisa Michelson (Dr. Marc) of Birmingham, Miles Jory Gessow (Lisa) of Oakland, California, Andrew Jody S. Gessow (Rhonda) of Woodside, California, and Laura Goldman (Dr. Yale) of Merion, Pennsylvania; grandchildren, Dr. Jennifer Michelson, Courtney Michelson, Samuel Gessow, Jeremy Gessow, Danielle Gessow, Julie Gessow, Dr. Jason Goldman, and Dr. Roger Goldman; three great grandchildren; and her special niece and nephew Marsha and Bill Rademacher of Urbana, Maryland. Mrs. Gessow will be missed by many treasured life-long friends. The family has deep gratitude for the tender love, devotion and care given to Mrs. Gessow by her angels Jean Cook, Stephanie Greggs, Miesha Merchant, and Brenda Green. Funeral services will be held at Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County, Maryland, on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 1 p.m., followed by burial at Parklawn Memorial Park & Menorah Gardens, Rockville, Maryland. A Memorial Service will follow in Birmingham at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Elaine Gessow Scholarship Endowment, The University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742 (http://ter.sp/engEGessow) or to The Elaine Silverman Gessow College Activities Fund, Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County, 8215 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-1451. May her memory be for a blessing.Funeral services will be held at Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County, Maryland, on Sunday, January 5, 2014 at 1 p.m., followed by burial at Parklawn Memorial Park & Menorah Gardens, Rockville, Maryland. A Memorial Service will follow in Birmingham at a later date. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Elaine Gessow Scholarship Endowment, The University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland 20742 (http://ter.sp/engEGessow) or to The Elaine Silverman Gessow College Activities Fund, Congregation Beth El of Montgomery County, 8215 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, Maryland 20814-1451. May her memory be for a blessing.


Published in The Washington Post on Jan. 5, 2014