Louette and Estelle, age 18 and 14
Louette Kestenberg Weiser, born in Houston, TX on July 27, 1933, died peacefully on October, 4, 2020 at the Austin home of her son David after a long battle with heart and blood disorders. Her life was filled with family and friends. Despite tragic personal losses over the years, Louette emphatically emphasized the good in people and the good in life. She will be remembered and missed by all who knew her.
Louette was a strong-willed, independent child. As an infant, while watching cows feeding in a field, Louette's mother Frieda said the two year-old Louette declared emphatically "Moo-cow won't hurt baby."
Growing up in Houston, Louette enjoyed jumping rope, catching fireflies, and won the jacks championship sponsored by a local recreation center. The victory came at a cost; her fingers calloused and bled during game sessions with friends that lasted long after the sun went down. Car journeys would be a regular part of her life, including frequent trips sitting beside her sister Estelle as her family drove from Houston to Boulder, Colorado where her father Louis earned his PhD in History from the University of Colorado. Louette also participated in piano recitals and enjoyed summer camp.
After graduating from San Jacinto High School, Louette attended Rice University, graduating with a BA in English. During a Hillel dance party, she met Dan Weiser, and they were soon engaged. They were only 20 years old. Texas law at the time required men under 21 to obtain parental permission before marriage; the same law allowed women to marry without parental permission if they were 18. Fortunately for all, both sets of parents approved of Louette and Dan's marriage.
As Dan earned his Mathematics PhD at Rice, Louette supported him by typing his complicated dissertation on a manual typewriter. After the birth of their first son Alan, Dan and Louette moved to the Oak Cliff neighborhood in Dallas where they raised four sons. Louette supported Dan's work in those early years by looking after the children and typing complicated scientific documents for his work at Mobil Corporation.
As her children grew older, Louette followed her mother's profession becoming a kindergarten and first grade teacher. Shifting careers, she worked in many capacities for the Dallas Public Library, first as a book-repairer and clerical worker at the Camp Wisdom branch and later as a technical document specialist and proof-reader at the downtown Dallas main library. For a two year period, she also worked as the Board Liaison to the Friends of the Dallas Public Library. Favorite Library activities included designing displays with her donated early American Girl dolls and helping coordinate the opening of the Children's Center which featured a plate glass photo of her granddaughter Lauren.
Louette supported her husband's political activities. Highlights included attending parties hosted by Governor Ann Richards and attending the 1976 Democratic convention in New York City. After meeting soon-to-be First Lady and Georgia native Rosalynn Carter, Louette proudly told her, "My daughter-in-law Mary Ann grew up in Savannah."
Louette and Dan's many trips included attending the Mexico City 1968 Olympics. Their return to Dallas included a harrowing ride through stormy weather in a small propeller plane. They also visited Paris and Israel with granddaughters Lauren and Julia. In London, Louette's feet began to hurt during long walks. Back in Dallas, she found out she was suffering from gout, but she had soldiered on to finish all the planned activities.
Louette was an active patron of the arts, frequently attending performances at Casa Manana in Fort Worth and The Dallas Repertory Theater at North Park where she enjoyed seeing her close friend Margie Herbert perform. She also enjoyed watching her sons Martin, David, and Michael perform in summer program plays and school concerts and musicals. She was also a devoted member of Temple Emanu-El for more than 60 years, taking pride in the beautiful services and excellent programming.
Louette had a passion for miniatures, and she was one of the founders of The Dallas Miniature Museum. She most enjoyed the annual "Miniature Mayfest" which included participation of many highly skilled craftsmen and other enthusiasts.
Even with her success as wife, mother and Library staffer, Louette's most rewarding role was Beloved Grandmommy. She spent countless hours caring for and playing with her nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. They provided her with infinite delight and joy. She would do anything for them.
After Dan's health declined, the couple moved from their Oak Cliff home to the Reserve Senior Center in North Dallas. Dan passed away in 2015. Louette stayed on at the Reserve, making many friends. After Covid-19 became a risk, Louette moved to her son Martin's home in Dallas and later to Austin with David. She was appreciative and uncomplaining to the end.
At the most recent family reunion in 2018, Louette was surprised to learn that she had apparently become the oldest surviving cousin of the extended Miron family. She loved family gatherings, large and small, Passover and Thanksgiving, food and fanfare. She especially enjoyed the minor chaos of children in attendance.
The family would like to thank the many caregivers that helped make Louette's home hospice experience as restful and enjoyable as possible.
Louette was preceded in death by parents Frieda and Louis Kestenberg, husband Dan and her son and daughter-in-law Alan and Mary Ann Weiser. Survivors include sister and brother-in-law Estelle and Don Singer, sister-in-law Lily Kanter, sons and daughters-in-law, Martin Weiser and Donna Miller, David Weiser and Mary Crouter, and Michael and Jenny Weiser, grandchildren Lauren (Will), Julia (Treeman), Leah (fiancée Jeremy Aidem), Nathan, Daniel, Leo, Aaron, Sarah, and Rachel, great grandchildren Mary Louise and Annie, many nieces, nephews, and cousins, and close friend Margie Herbert. Services and remembrance via remote streaming are being planned. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Temple Emanu-El Clergy Good Works Fund.
It was such a lovely experience to have worked with you Mrs. Louette. Your friendly nature and kind words made me happy to meet you on Fridays and Saturdays. I recall you being cheerful and caring at all times. It was such a short time but you left an emptiness in me. I miss you and the world will definitely miss your kindness.
Rest well Mrs. Louette
David -- Beautiful obituary: A wonderful tribute to your mother. May care and love of those around you provide comfort and peace to get you through the days ahead. Our most sincere condolences. Rosemary and Bill Aramony
My family members did such a beautiful job in their tributes to Grandmommy, and I am so grateful for how they captured her spirit and legacy for us. I had two memories that I wanted to share here (as this virtual forum must be a substitute for the long, joyful, poignant conversations we all would have shared in person, if circumstances had allowed for a traditional service)
1. I recall with deep fondness how Grandmommy took unique delight in surprising or unusual recipes, that she loved sneaking funny ingredients into dishes and seemed so gleeful when she asked you to guess at the mystery ingredient until you finally said "eggplant"... And you were right! She was pleased to give up cooking after moving to the Reserve, and I don't think she missed it for a second (she told me as much on many occasions, while also commenting on how wonderful the food service was in her new home). But I do feel like we missed out on lots of gastronomic adventures after that transition in her life.
2. I recall with sincere admiration how easy going Grandmommy always was as a participant in her own teasing. She lived out her own advice to never let anyone make you feel embarrassed. I don't know how to say it accurately without making it sound like I enjoyed making fun of my Grandmother, but it felt like playing with her in a game that she secretly had made the rules for, like she was actually the orchestrator of the fun and humor rather than being the butt of the joke, like you could tease her, but you were never making fun of her because she knew she had nothing to be ashamed of. We could learn from her ability to be earnest, unashamed, and confident about her world view, but also easy going and open minded enough to laugh at herself much more readily than she would ever laugh at someone else. Uncle Michael helped me crystalize my thoughts by telling me "She was smart about how she allowed her 'Louette/Grandmommy' character to stand as a source of amusement. She knew it was an important and valuable ingredient in the recipe of a functioning family. Her charming, good-humored wisdom and influence will live on."
So many lessons that Grandmommy taught us will live on in our memory and in the way we treat ourselves and each other with love, tolerance, and open hearted wonder.
Dear Grandmommy, thank you, thank you, thank you, I love, love, love you.
- Julia Weiser (granddaughter)
Grandson Leo Weiser’s remarks at funeral service:
It’s hard to be sad on a day like this when the sky is blue, the sun is bright, and I have my whole life ahead of me.
I don’t know Louette Weiser. To me she is Grandmommy. What that means, is she would give me things, and I would graciously accept them. Money for my Birthday. Vanilla bluebell ice-cream she kept stocked in her freezer (that you can’t refuse). Or a collection of miniature chairs that I have kept and will cherish for the rest of my life. Because, although they are entirely useless, I still find them precious.
You see, Grandmommy was a collector in every facet of her life. And her favorite part of collecting was sharing her collections with everyone else. She loved to gossip, chitchat, and share the lives of others instead of her own.
What I learned from Grandmommy is that love is not understanding. She loved many and understood few. She focused on the group and not the individual. She wanted all of us to share and be a part of each other’s lives. And if that meant she never knew what my dreams and aspirations were, so be it.
The reason love isn’t understanding is to understand someone they first have to tell you how they feel. Sometimes that’s just not possible.
So here we are. Together. Because by far Grandmommy’s best collection is us.
I am grateful for her love. I am grateful to have been collected.
This year while Grandmommy lived with us, she would sit by the TV, and if she saw me; she would beckon to me in her polite manner:
“Leo, can I please have some ice-cream?”
“Of course, Grandmommy.”
I don’t know much, but I have a hunch there is plenty of ice-cream in heaven.
Rest in Peace.
Granddaughter Lauren Waldrop's remarks at funeral service:
She was an unapologetic advocate of public schools. It makes sense: she proudly and repeatedly recalled to me how her parents came to this country a hundred years ago without knowing a word of English, learned English and excelled at American public schools, and then themselves became beloved and respected public school teachers in Houston. No wonder she believed that justice requires that the best in education be available to all regardless of race or sex or disability or religion or the ability to pay. No wonder she dedicated her career to the Dallas Public Library, the existence of which is predicated on the belief that everyone - regardless of their demographics - deserves access to materials intended to educate and inform and provide conflicting viewpoints and broaden creative horizons.
She was a loving, exhausted, working-full-time-outside-the-home wife of a very opinionated food-lover and mother of four voracious, energetic boys who turned into nine wild grandchildren and then (so far) two spunky great-granddaughters. She was a devoted sister and aunt and daughter.
For more than fifty years, she was a proud resident of southern Oak Cliff and a member of Temple Emanu-El in north Dallas, so of course she combined her passion for those cherished communities as often as possible by volunteering and hosting events for Temple's "South of the River" Group.
But more than anything, I think, she loved the small things. The most obvious example of this was her vast miniature collection: miniature toy stores, miniature playrooms, miniature picnics, miniature flower shops, miniature birthday parties, miniature Passover, Thanksgiving, and Chanukah tables, and hundreds of paper cutouts by a talented State Fair security guard named Leon Youngblood - each tiny artwork detailed to the utmost degree. I don’t pretend to fully understand her passion for these objects. All I know is that the first place I ran when we reached the house on Rugged Circle as a child was through that red screen door up those green-blue carpeted steps and down that hallway to her bedroom and the guestroom where she kept these treasures. When I got there, I would marvel at the replicas and imagine what I would do if I could somehow inhabit their tiny worlds.
But her love of the small didn't stop there: she loved babies, she loved details on clothes and jewelry and buildings and art, she loved one-liners and pithy punch lines, she loved sayings and acronyms that simplified big ideas into small, easy-to-understand phrases. Among the most memorable of these for me were...
"Bloom where you're planted."
"Always look back."
"Always look up." (Maybe not at the same time as you look back.)
And finally, in recent years, "Have courage and be kind.”
Those two things were, she instructed, the only two things anybody ever really needed to remember in life: have courage, and be kind. Frankly, I can’t really argue with that.
She not only loved short sayings, she loved men who could keep their words brief; and Granddaddy was certainly one, which was for the best because she loved to talk. My favorite example of this was that although she was a proud Democrat, she claimed that she never cared for one particular political leader who rose to prominence in the 90’s, and this was BEFORE she ever knew about any of his scandals. If you asked her "well then, why not?" she would explain that she once attended a Democratic Party fundraiser with Granddaddy, who had told her that the man they met there was "going to be president one day." Grandmommy would then explain that when she got to the event, it was lovely, and there were appetizers and wine and mingling, and then someone asked the “man who was going to be president one day” to say a few words to the guests. And then she would tell you that the “man who was going to be president one day” proceeded to address the crowd, and he was fine but nothing special, but he kept going on and on and on, and by the end of the night this man had been talking for two hours, and "What kind of man thinks anyone wants to stand there and listen to him talk for two hours!?"
And with that gentle reminder, I'll try to wind this up with a final anecdote that somehow helps me make sense of where we find ourselves today. My mom used to tell me a story about a conversation she once overheard between Grandmommy's Mama, Grandma Frieda, and Grandmommy's father-in-law, Grandpa Bud. Now these were two very smart people, but they clearly had very different ways of thinking because according to my mom, on one particular evening Grandpa Bud was stubbornly lecturing Grandma Frieda over dinner about his newest plan to end world hunger. This plan was apparently based on one of Grandpa Bud's complicated mathematical theories that had come from the depths of his engineer-brain, and Grandma Frieda was kindly listening and responding to him but not with the enthusiasm he was hoping for. So Grandpa Bud kept describing this theory, and Grandma Frieda kept politely refusing to be impressed, and finally he got frustrated and said something to the effect of, "What's wrong with you? Don't you want to save the world!?" To which, I am told, Grandma Frieda replied, "No. I just want to help my neighbor."
And the reason this anecdote helps me make sense of this moment is that Grandmommy - like her mother - didn't want to change the world. She loved the small things, not the grand theories. She just wanted to help her neighbor.
But here's the thing- A lifetime of helping your neighbor with this small problem and then that small problem… A lifetime of talking to everyone you happen to meet - security guards, office mates, classmates, gas station clerks, library patrons, hospital workers, and - if forced - men who are "going to be president one day"… A lifetime of talking to people with an open heart so that they in effect become your neighbor… A lifetime of all of us deciding that we want to help our neighbors however we can and expanding our circle of neighbors as often as possible... A lifetime of SMALL THINGS, in the end, can add up to SOMETHING HUGE. It can add up to a world in which EVERYONE is your neighbor: someone whom you help and who helps you. No complicated math necessary.
So how do we get there - to this society of good neighbors that Grandmommy and her mother seemed to think possible? I can only guess that she would remind us of one of her favorite sayings in later years: "Have courage and be kind." And as I said before, I can't really argue with that.
October 7, 2020
Estelle’s remarks for sister Louette’s funeral service.
My sister, Louette, has been a significant presence in my life, for my entire life.
I always looked up to her. As a little girl, my attempt to say sister came out Titter.
And that’s what I called her until she married and I felt I needed to respect her
new station in life and call her Louette.
Titter and I occupied the back seat of our 1937 Plymouth for many family trips.
We went to Boulder, Colorado, where our Father was working on his PhD. We
went to New Orleans where our Father taught at Tulane for a Summer. We visited
relatives including our mother’s sister Thelma and her family in Indiana and our
father’s sister, Bobbie, and her family first in Iowa and then Los Angeles. I admired
Titter’s ability to read in the car while I battled motion sickness.
Our father did all the driving. If he got sleepy our mother would bring up subjects
that would agitate him and keep him awake. I recall one topic she would mention was
Herbert Hoover. That did it. He would drive for many more miles totally awake
Titter and I shared a bedroom until she married Danny. I was a romantic teenager
and was thrilled to be in their wedding. But I was also thrilled that I would at last
get the treasured bed by the window.
And as we grew into twenty somethings our attachment grew stronger.
We gave each other baby books as the babies arrived. Louette was a devoted
Aunt and our children loved her dearly.
Louette always made me feel good about our gatherings that she attended.
She was the first to write a note of how special the Bar Mitzvah, or the
Wedding, or the birthday party, or the dinner was. No matter how old I was, I was
so happy to have the approval of my big sister.
And now, although it feels out of kilter to have her presence gone in my life, I am
grateful that I have such sweet memories.
David’s Remarks for Mom’s Funeral Service – October 7, 2020
I am honored to represent many people today with these remarks: Alan and Mary Ann (of blessed memory), Martin and Donna, Michael and Jenny, my wife Mary, and indeed the entire generation of Mom’s nieces and nephews: Ben, Joel, Susie and Danny Kanter, Laura, Steve and Frank Singer, and their respective spouses and families.
What was Louette Weiser like as a mom and an Aunt? She was cheerful, supportive, and eager to let us have fun. She served snacks while we watched football games. She took us to Six Flags and the State Fair. She tolerated late night pingpong tournaments.
She tolerated a bunch of things. Dad could sometimes be a little bit stubborn, and me and my brothers were noisy and occasionally fractious, but Mom almost always kept her cool. We felt loved and supported.
On Monday, during our call with Rabbi Kim, Michael reminded us that Mom had two main pieces of advice for us growing up: first, ask questions; second, try not to feel embarrassed about anything. Put another way: you will probably enjoy life more at every stage if you retain a sense of wonder and curiosity; and you will probably feel better about yourself throughout life if you don’t let other people define what is right for you. At least that’s how I see it now. In retrospect, it’s pretty interesting that her guidance was not insistent on any particular outcome for us, but more about a way for us to approach life.
Mom let us find our way, which is its own gift. While Dad had opinions to share about the way we might want to do something, or a life path that might be good, Mom mostly stayed neutral on these topics, letting us pursue the things we found interesting. As Michael mentioned on our call with Rabbi Kim, Mom had no qualms about a son of hers becoming a performer and a clown (to which Martin dryly replied, “Which son was that?”).
What was it like for Mom to have four boys who took almost zero interest in many of the things she loved, like miniatures and dolls? (A quick side note: Mom strongly encouraged each of us boys to read the book Little Women, but I think she went oh-for-four on that effort.) That must have been frustrating, but we never heard her complain. In fact, Mom was not a complainer about anything.
Somewhere along the way, Mom figured out that she had an amazing capacity to compliment every person with whom she came into contact. This became her super-power. This was her preferred mode of tikkun olam, repairing our broken world. She saw that a small kindness or compliment from her could often brighten the day for the person she complimented.
Here’s the other side of the same coin: Mom understood that a harsh comment to a waiter or a receptionist, or a son or a grandchild, would probably darken their day. Mom didn’t know the song “Closer to Fine,” but she understood the key line: “Darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable, while Lightness has a call that’s hard to hear.” Mom always tried her best to hear the call from lightness.
And it couldn’t have been easy for Mom. Like us all, she knew her share (or more) of “the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to” (as Hamlet would say). But she stayed focused on the positive things in life and in people. And she acted in positive ways. When Alan died, and then Mary Ann, Mom and Dad grieved, but they also stepped up to help support Lauren and Julia. Mom was their adoring Grandmommy, a bulwark of positivity and encouragement.
“Grandmommy” was a role that suited Mom perfectly. She obsessively marked every grandchild’s birthday with a cash gift, the 10-dollar bill usually taped to a card made by Mom herself. She loved, loved, loved her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They brought her so much enjoyment and delight. Indeed, in the last few days before she died, Estelle soothed Mom by holding her hands, and reciting the names of Mom’s grandchildren and great grandchildren over and over, as a medicinal incantation. Lauren, Julia, Leah, Nathan, Daniel, Leo, Aaron, Sarah, Rachel, Annie, Mary Louise. Over and over. And I think it worked.
Gratitude. Gratitude was as essential to Mom as breathing. She was the lady who momentarily slowed down the checkout lane at the grocery store in order to thank the cash register person AND the grocery bagger.
Mom was so grateful for her big, beautiful family. Grateful for Michael’s family in Buffalo Grove, Illinois, where Jenny was the gracious hostess while Sarah and Rachel delighted her with acrobatic performances, dances, and songs. Grateful for Martin and his family in Oak Cliff, where Donna hosted Passover, while Daniel, Leo and Aaron sang songs and played soccer in the yard. Grateful to me and Mary in Austin, where Mary hosted Thanksgiving and Leah and Nathan would sing songs and play charades.
Grateful to Alan and Mary Ann for family vacations at Tybee Island in Georgia. Grateful to Lauren and Will for innumerable meals and playdates with Mary Louise and Annie. Grateful to Julia and Treeman for making special trips to Dallas to see her. Grateful to all the workers at the Reserve, who served her tasty meals and immediately repaired any problem in her apartment. And so very grateful to all her hospice caregivers, who tended to her faithfully and patiently these final few months.
What was Mom like? Here’s how her dear friend Margie Herbert put it in an email yesterday: Quote: “I have tried to describe Louette occasionally. It's easy, yet difficult. Simply say all the nicest things there are to say; and use many exclamation points. Yet that has never been enough.” Close quote.
I’ll close by telling you about Mom’s role at the end of her life as Family Matriarch. At the most recent Miron Family Reunion in 2018, Mom was surprised to learn that she apparently was the oldest surviving cousin in the very large extended family. She was pleased to see that almost every attendee, old and young, wanted to say a word to her, or give her a hug. In her modest way, Mom enjoyed being the Matriarch. Of course, family matriarchs have no power and no actual authority. But I like to think of Mom’s reign as matriarch as a reign of tolerance, gratitude, and lightness. A reign of tikkun olam, repairing the broken world, one compliment at a time.
Thank you to all who joined us remotely for the funeral service. We deeply appreciate all the kind thoughts and supportive prayers. The Weiser Family
PhotosAdd a photo
Dallas, TX, United States 75204