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Lieselotte Gerta Esser

Lieselotte (Lise, “Lisa”) Gerta Esser, 96, passed away in the arms of her adoring son late afternoon 12th of April, in the Woolman House of Pennswood Village Newtown, PA, where she had been a resident since 2005.    Lise was the widow of Ernst Esser who passed away in 2013, and is survived by her son Klaus and two grandchildren, Matthew and Jonathan Esser, sons of Klaus and Beth Esser. 

Lise was born 1925 in Germany, as was Ernst, survived the war and, with the arrival of a son, decided to emigrate to the US which finally happened early in 1954 largely due to her persistence in taking the huge gamble with only $200 and no jobs in the new country.  So, with a 5 year old son in tow and a twenty hour two-stop flight from Frankfurt to Idlewild Airport (now JFK) in NY, Lise, Ernst and Klaus started a new life in Levittown, PA.  Lise initially cleaned other people’s homes until she could find work, which she did with Brown Instruments, doing engineering drafting.  Ernst also found work as a draftsman then later hydraulics engineer at Yale & Town fork lift division, and they were able to buy their first house and start on the American dream.    Lise later joined Botel/Sheppard Associates as the graphic artist and book designer, doing hand layouts for a creative elementary educational book series adopted by many school systems throughout the US.  Because this was prior to personal computers, each book took months at a drawing board, laying out graphics and text for individual pages, and hand lettering.  After a long gratifying career, Lise volunteered her time freely, often at Silver Lake Nature Center, which she loved, and where, among other things, she was famous for her homemade German potato salad that her family loved too.

Travel was an important part of Lise’s life, with parents and her family left behind in Germany, trips to Europe were something the family did frequently.  Since Lise also had an adventurous spirit, travel wasn’t limited to the known, with many adventures by car, plane, boat, train and even balloon.  Lise and Ernst traveled throughout North America, Hawaii, all of Europe, and the Eastern mediterranean but their favorite trips included snorkeling in tropical waters. 

In addition to being a graphic artist, a loving mother and homemaker, Lieselotte Esser was an athlete her entire life, always being competitive in a wide range of sports, but her passion later in life was tennis at which she excelled into her 80s.  She also did still regularly win competitions in many other sports in the Bucks County Senior Olympics and other local competitions.  Lise played tennis until she was paralyzed during back surgery she had for lower back pain that was slowing down her otherwise energetic pace. As a result of the surgery she became paraplegic, spending the rest of her life, the next 14 years, in a wheelchair.  

While the paralysis temporarily broke her spirit, she bounced back after a few months and pushed herself in physical therapy, determined to regain her ability to walk and to get back to a more normal life.  After 2 years of effort didn’t restore her ability to walk, Lise focused on making the most of what she could do from a wheelchair, to include hitting tennis balls on the courts with her son.  Picnic outings in her wheelchair van on Sundays to local parks were always a special treat, with the menu often including a Wendy’s burger, fries and sometimes a stop at Goodnoe Farms for handmade ice cream, with rum raisin and coffee being the favorites. 

Lise was loved by many and respected by all who knew her for her drive to succeed and personal high standards, and for her principles, fairness, and sincere like of all people, no matter their origins, as long as they had values she could respect.  Although a competitive athlete, she always coached other players to help them improve, freely sharing her own skills and learnings in every sport she played.  Her son and grandsons were among the beneficiaries of her coaching.  Additionally, Lise has been the moral compass and general life role model for Klaus, her only son, as well as helping form the character of her two grandsons with whom she loved spending time starting immediately after they were born.

Liselotte had a strong sense of right and wrong, and lived her entire life being true to her intrinsic principles, being vocal when she saw injustice and trying to improve situations that she felt were not right.  This charter trait sometimes got her in trouble, as it did when she was a teenager in Germany during the war. Witnessing an allied plane being shot down by antiaircraft fire, she voiced concern about there being no parachutes and was sad that apparently the crew hadn’t gotten out.  A Nazi official overheard her comments and accused her of being an enemy sympathizer.  This is the way Lieselotte lived her life, treating people as people, regardless of what package they came in.  Her son Klaus has tied to live up to Lise’s principles

While she had only one child, her son, Lise became very close to many of the staff in Woolman house who cared for her over the 14 years she was in the full nursing care facility.  Lise became especially close to some of the caregivers who she loved as daughters.

Her son Klaus will be forever grateful for his mother (“Mutti”) showing him by example how to live life, for giving him such a happy life full of opportunities and possibilities, and for giving him the courage to follow his dreams.    Lieselotte Esser was a truly good, caring and kind person.  Lise will be dearly missed by all who knew her.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to “Friends of Silver Lake” in memory of Lieselotte Esser,, Silver Lake Nature Center, 1306 Bath Road, Bristol, PA 19007

To record a brief video or voice only tribute, condolence or cherished memory to be shared privately with the family, please click this link: Send Hugs for Lieselotte Gerta Esser

Phone: 215-543-9339