J. Elisabeth Weiss
active in Chebeague Island community

CHEBEAGUE ISLAND — J. Elisabeth Weiss, a former Canadian diplomat who after retirement became active in community affairs in Chebeague Island, died Monday. She was 83.

In 1958, a Canadian newspaper wrote of Miss Weiss: "Tall, slender, fair-haired with intense blue eyes, Elisabeth Weiss speaks in a modulated voice and has a rather gentle but authoritative manner."

The description was apt, said a niece, Dorrit W. Tompkins of Yarmouth.

Newspapers wrote about her because she was so accomplished: She served at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Ottowa, at the Canadian Embassy in Washington, D.C., and The Hague in Holland. She also was the Canadian consul in New York and Seattle.

"She was really one of the first women to have such a high position in the Canadian government," her neice said. "It was really very impressive."

Like many of her Canadian colleagues in The Hague, she arrived not speaking Dutch, but she made a point of learning the language, recalled a friend, Martha Hamilton, who lives on Chebeague Island.

"That was the type of person she was," Hamilton said. "She took anything she was doing seriously enough to do it well."

She expected the same in others, and could be prickly.

"She really was very businesslike and you knew just where she stood, and she could tell you right off anytime," Hamilton said.

Hamilton is Chebeague Island's librarian, and Miss Weiss was a long-time member of the library's board of trustees.

When islanders decided they wanted a building rather than a room in the school for the library, Miss Weiss was in charge of getting large gifts from corporationis.

"We raised about $350,000," Hamilton said.

Miss Weiss helped out in smaller ways, as well.

"She also came into the library and volunteered on the desk, any of the little chores that had to be done."

For much of her life, Miss Weiss had a cat, but recently, she got a poodle, Nanette.

"Elisabeth was very much a loner until she got Nanette," Hamilton said.

During last year's ice storm, Miss Weiss refused to leave her house without the dog. When officials told her she couldn't take Nanette to the shelter, she stayed home, where firefighters checked in on her.

Miss Weiss was set in her ways. She walked on the beach every day, no matter the weather.

"Getting down and onto the beach in the wintertime is sometimes quite a chore, and she used to carry a ski pole to get down there," Hamilton said.

She drove a Ford Bronco, and when it was icy out, she'd drive down her driveway to pick up her mail. Despite her age, she enjoyed remarkably good health and her death came as a surprise.

Miss Weiss enjoyed making jewelry. When she walked the beach, she kept an eye out for sea glass, which she turned into jewelry. "Enamelling jewelry was a big part of her life," her niece said.

She also enjoyed gardening and listening to the news on National Public Radio. She enjoyed NPR so much, her friends were forbidden from calling her while it was on.

She was born in Toronto, Ontario, a daughter of Frederick Wodemar and Jane Lane Pierce Weiss, and attended schools in New Rochelle, N.Y. She graduated from McGill University in Montreal.

She moved to Chebeague Island after her retirement in 1971, but had long summered on the island. In addition to serving as a library trustee, she was a director of the Golf Club and the Chebeague Transportation Co. She also was a member of the Chebeague Council.

Surviving are a brother, Dr. G. Woldemar Weiss, of Stuart, Fla.; two nieces, Karen W. Corson, of Demarest, N.J., and Dorrit W. Tompkins of Yarmouth; a nephew, Erick W. Weiss of Hilton Head Island, S.C.; and six grandnephews and grandnieces.

A memorial service will be held on Chebeague Island in June. Arrangements are by Lindquist Funeral Home. —

Joshua Weinstein

(Copied from Portland Press Herald Online January 9, 1999)


WEISS --In Cumberland, Chebeague Island, ME, January 4, J. Elisabeth Weiss,
age 83, of Chebeague Island.
A memorial service will be held in June on Chebeague Island. If desired,
memorial contributions may be made to the Chebeague Island Library, c/o
Martha Hamilton, Box 511, Chebeague Is., ME 04017 or to the Chebeague Is.
Rescue, c/o Lewis Ross, Box 4 Chebeague Is., ME 04017. Arrangements by
Lindquist Funeral Home, One Mayberry Ln., Yarmouth, ME 04096.