In Remembrance: Isabel Kayser

A Pacific Palisades resident since 1956, Kayser was well known for her community support, humor, strong opinions, generosity and support of local public officials. She passed away on July 22.

I had the opportunity to meet Isabel, but after spending time with her family, hearing about her incredible spirit and her amazing life, I wish I had gotten to know her even more. What a lady she was – on the outside and on the inside from her scarves for every occasion, to her jewelry, hats and purses, she lived life, celebrating every holiday and minute.

But she also contained an amazing spirit. She was all about helping people, animals – even plants and fruit trees! She spent her life connecting with the people about her and bringing about positive change through her efforts and her endless energy.

Isabel grew up in Mt. Vernon, Ohio. She met her husband Charles as a teenager and they moved to California in the mid 1940’s. She and Charles had a wonderful life together – married over 55 years. Together, they had wonderful sons, Bennett and Reis, as well as grandchildren – Nathan and Noah, David and Sarah, and her great grandchild, Benjamin, whom she loved and adored. He was perhaps even the impetus for her moving to Chicago two years ago.

She and Charles got to travel all over the world, from Greece, to Russia and Brazil, and even had a house in Majorca Spain for a few years. They took multiple trips to Israel and went on many cruises.

In her life, she loved the theater, was an active volunteer for the Palisades theater, donating her time and energy to catering their parties and fundraisers, as well as finding props they needed, usually from her home. Assure loved anything social – loved to garden and to grow different kinds of flowers and vegetables.

She loved the opera and musicals and knew the words to every tune. She kept her sharp wit and humor to the end and never lost her amazing memory and ability to recall things – especially as Sarah told me, her ability to win at Scrabble.

Reis shared with me that she was a business woman, successful in real estate as a broker and got to work in the rock and roll end of the music industry with such clients as Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Black Sabbath, Jay Ferguson, and others.

She loved to do crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles and was an amazing cook. She loved to throw parties, big parties – and as Reis recalled, having about 150 people to hers and Charles home for New Year’s Eve. And it wasn’t just Isabel who liked to party – she made sure her dog Sugar was in on the fun as well. On Isabel’s 90th birthday, Sugar had not one but two outfits for the special day. Isabel loved her accessories - Liron recalled that Isabel had so many scarves, he never saw her wear the same one twice!

Isabel was extremely generous with her time and her money – sending donations to many causes from saving seals to planting trees. She was a lifetime member of B’nai Brith and was always interested in others’ lives, wanting to help others in whatever way she could.

She worked hard in her neighborhood to insure that the community inhabitants did not lose their view of the ocean. But it was not only people she worked to help. She also worked to save the sea animals from being killed by hunters and was a community activist to bring justice and order for the greater good of her local community.

She loved politics, worked on elections, volunteering her time to work for whatever candidate needed her support. She went door to door, was a precinct captain and even got to go to the Democratic National convention. And a high point, Isabel got to go to the inaugurations of Presidents’ Lyndon Johnson and Kennedy.

She was a fireball of energy – she never grew old. Reis recalled how she showed up to a dinner at the Temple in a red leather pantsuit! And even though two years ago she was conflicted about coming to reside in Chicago, she accepted that transition worth dignity.

Reis commented about their last day together. He recalled that she had had her challenges with her diminishing eyesight, but that for her last day, she seemed happy, excited about the possibility of her new digs. She seemed super positive, and not as frustrated as she had been. She was, as Reis said, more hopeful for the future than she had been.

Through our journey of life – we encounter people and find that our hearts, and souls, and minds are touched by one another - then together we share the joys and pains of living. Friends and family are to be treasured - the bonds that were created - the ties you wove - are lasting - they transcend even death.

- This eulogy was presented by Andrea J. Cosnowsky, associate rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim in Lombard, IL. at Kasyer's memorial service in Chicago. 


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