Floral 12

       


Elisabeth Klug Bement

June 11, 1922 ~ January 29, 2018 (age 95)

Elisabeth, or Liesel, as she was known to her friends, was born in Oftersheim, Germany at the height of the post World War I depression.  She was the youngest of five children. 

Her mother died when she was 10, a victim of colon cancer and the experimental radiation treatment that was used to try and save her.  Her father never remarried.  He was active in local politics and ran the town gymnasium, which was similar to a recreation center today.  When the Nazis began persecuting Jews, he helped several families escape and hid several others until they could also escape.  It was from these events that Liesel learned compassion and kindness for everyone.

In her early adulthood, Liesel married a young man and had a child named Heinz. Her husband was later killed in the war and she lived with his parents in what later became East Germany. When the Russians began taking over, she fled on foot with Heinz, avoiding Russian foot patrols until she reached her family in West Germany.

She had her second child, William, in 1948, but Heinz was lost to her when the Iron Curtain fell while he was visiting his paternal grandparents.  She met her husband Arnold when he was deployed in Germany as part of the Corp of Engineers.  They married in April 1956 and she immigrated to the U.S. with William that year.

She had her third son, Anthony, in 1958 in San Francisco, California while working for a bank that later became Wells Fargo.  They eventually moved to a suburb of Washington D.C., where they lived until 1971 when the family moved to Japan.  While living in Japan, Liesel was active in Japanese-American relations. She tutored several locals in English until her family moved to Vietnam in September 1974.

She continued her work unofficially with the local Vietnamese people, helping those she could and befriending many of the workers at the American facilities.  After she and the family evacuated Saigon when it fell, she sponsored several families that were refugees from the Viet Cong in their home in Northern Virginia. 

In November of 1975, the family moved to Tehran, Iran. She again immersed herself in the local culture, but due to the anti-American hostility of the time, she was not warmly received.  Months before the family was set to rotate out, she was the victim of a hit-and-run driver in a suspected terror attack.  She recovered from the incident, but with injuries that stayed with her the rest of her life.  That was her last time she lived overseas.

She returned to the U.S., eventually moving to Florida when her husband retired.  She and Arnold traveled the world as tourists while they lived overseas and continued throughout Arnold’s retirement.  She moved to Charlotte, NC full-time in 2012 and lived there surrounded by her husband, children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren until her death this month.  She will always be remembered for her warmth, her generosity, her kindness and her wonderful wit, which brought a laugh to everyone she met.  She never met anyone who didn’t like her and she loved simply and greatly.  She will be missed.

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