Elsie Wood Paris, 95, a resident of North Bennington, Vermont died quietly in her home on Thursday, April 25th, surrounded by her family.
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Endowed with a joyful curiosity, Elsie was penetrating, funny and wise. She was a confidante and champion of so many -- a reliable friend and a gracious host, a caring teacher and a sensitive listener, a natural gardener and a knowledgeable, committed citizen.
Born in Pasadena, California on July 10, 1923, Elsie was the eldest daughter of Caroline Almy and Richard Wood. She grew up in Boston, Marblehead and Westport, Massachusetts before attending St-Mary’s-in-the-Mountains (now the White Mountain School) and Smith College. After graduating from Smith, she went to Washington to work as a translator for the War Department. As World War II concluded, she was assigned to the Office of the Military Attaché in Berne, Switzerland before joining UNESCO in Paris as a researcher and translator.
Elsie met her beloved husband, Paul - in Paris - on the very day she arrived in France in 1946. They married in 1947 and spent the next five years in Europe before moving to Kansas City where she began her teaching career as both a kindergarten instructor and a high school French teacher at the Sunset School.
In 1958, Elsie, Paul and their five children moved to Newton, Massachusetts, where they lived until 1971. She received a Master of Education degree from Harvard University in 1968, and then began working as a reading specialist with emotionally troubled children. In 1972, she and her husband moved to Brooklyn, New York, where she spent the next five years as a 2nd and 3rd grade teacher and classroom supervisor at the Brooklyn Friends School.
In 1978, when her husband retired from American Express, they moved to North Bennington. Elsie continued her love of working with children, teaching at North Bennington’s Prospect School. She and Paul were strong advocates for peace, helping to found Bennington’s chapter of Beyond War. In 2005 she became a certified mediator and was awarded Volunteer Mediator of the Year by the Center for Restorative Justice in 2011.
An avid adventure traveler, she explored every continent, including Antarctica in 2008 at the age of 85. Throughout her eighties and into her nineties, she was an active alumna, serving continuously as Reunion Chair at Smith College. Predeceased by her husband in 2002, she remained a lively, loving mother to her five children: Susan Borden of Banff, Alberta and Old Bennington, Jay Paris of Chelsea, MA, Richard Paris of Bristol, England, Hildy Paris of Centerville, MA, and Chanel Graefe of Norwell, MA. She was equally devoted to her sons and daughters-in-law, her nieces and nephews, her step-grandchildren and to her grandchildren: Sophie Paris and her son, Luka, of Ridgefield, CT, Owen Paris of Brookline, NH, Anna Graefe of Philadelphia, PA and Will Graefe of Brooklyn, NY. She is survived by her sister whom she treasured, Sally Woods, of Newburyport, MA.
A celebration of Elsie’s life will take place at 3:00 on Sunday, June 30 at The Old First Church in Old Bennington. If friends desire, contributions in memory of Elsie W. Paris, may be made to Quantum Leap at Mt. Anthony High School, c/o Bennington College, Bennington, Vt. 05201.
Guest book condolences may be made at www.maharandsonfuneralhome.net