Elsa Wolf, 90, passed away peacefully at home surrounded by her family and caregivers on Wednesday, September 20, 2018. She was born in Sighet, Transylvania, now Romania, where she had a happy childhood, until the maniacal Nazis occupied the country and sent the Jews to the concentration camps. Elsa’s mother Gisele and two youngest sisters, Lili and Mimi, were murdered in Auschwitz, and her brother, Herschel, was killed as well. Fortunately, Elsa was in hiding under an assumed identity in Budapest, later escaping to the United States where she lived in New York City, attended Hunter College, and then worked in fashion design. She moved to Houston, living briefly with her beloved sister and brother-in-law, Renee and Benjamin Danziger, before living on her own.
Drawing on her experience and keen eye for fashion, Elsa became a buyer at Foley’s department store for many years. As time passed, she met the love of her life, Bernard Wolf, to whom she was married for 56 years. They lived a charmed life: skiing, scouring museums, sight-seeing and relaxing with friends from around the world. It was not unusual for the Wolfs to fly to Japan just to take in performances of Wagnerian operas. Not one to simply get by on her stunning good looks, Elsa spoke six languages reflecting the breadth of her cultural experience and cosmopolitan comfort. Although by historical necessity, she was largely self-educated, her grasp of history, music, and the arts was quite deep. Elsa developed the palate of a sommelier, was a gourmet cook, and she and Bernard were well-known in the community for their entertaining prowess. In fact, Houston Grand Opera frequently asked Elsa to prepare dinners for visiting opera stars who often joked “If we do not eat at the Wolf’s, we will not perform!” Ever the consummate hostess, Elsa might be remembered most lovingly wearing a colorful, designer “peasant” dress while orchestrating a sumptuous meal in their elegant private wine room. They and their lucky guests would be treated to music (there was always music at the Wolf house) by a trio of Hungarian musicians. Elsa was awarded the honor of lifetime membership of the Houston Grand Opera, served on the Executive Boards of The Moores School of Music, University of Houston, and at the University of St. Thomas, receiving several of their most coveted awards.
Our appreciation goes to her caretakers Joyce Dudley, Patricia Gomez, Alicia Longoria and Maria Vargas. And to our special angel Flora Lopez, caregiver, friend and companion for 11 years, we offer our deepest gratitude and love. Sincere appreciation, also, to Dr. James Pool whose expert care for the past 15 years has extended her life, and whose counsel always brought us great confidence and comfort. His final decision to engage hospice was brilliant.
Elsa was preceded in death by her sister and brother-in-law Renee and Benjamin Danziger, and step-daughter Shelley Wolf. She is survived by her loving and devoted husband Bernard, dedicated step-daughter Lori Quintavalle, doting grandchildren, Jessica, Stephen, Jackie, Julia, and Alec, and eight great-grandchildren, as well as adoring nieces and nephew Gail and Milton Klein and Leslie Danziger.
We will miss Elsa’s beautiful smile, generous and vivacious spirit, strength, and intelligence.
The service will be private.
Contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association in the hopes of eradicating this dreaded disease.