Ocean Beach 05

Elizabeth L. Lanier

May 2, 1925 ~ October 26, 2021 (age 96)


Elizabeth Lanier

Elizabeth Lanier passed away peacefully in her home in Pompano Beach, Florida, on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. She was 96.
She was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on May 2, 1925. Early in her life, her family moved to Basket, Kentucky, where she lived until graduation from high school.

During World War II, she worked as a riveter in a defense plant and then joined the U.S. Navy, where she received training in the Bronx, New York, and was stationed in Washington, D.C.

After the war, she attended Western Kentucky University, where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree and met her husband, John. They moved to Fort Pierce, Florida, where he taught and coached while she stayed home to raise their two children. In the early 1960s, they moved to Fort Lauderdale, where they lived for more than 40 years before moving to a retirement community in Pompano Beach.

She was completely authentic. A natural beauty, she never wore makeup, nail polish, hair spray, jewelry or any other accessories. There was nothing false or pretentious about her. She was truly comfortable with who she was.

She had a unique perspective of life and an uncanny insight into people; however, she was not judgmental. She told her children “We are not put on this earth to judge others.” During one vacation, a homeless woman, unprovoked, shoved her hard. She just walked on, later saying we should not judge the woman because we did not know how difficult the woman’s life was.

She treated everyone the same, regardless of their station in life, and she respected everyone unless they did something to lose that respect.

An absolutely honest woman, she knew how to couch criticism in the kindest terms. She was succinct but subtle. Whenever she was ready to end a conversation on the phone, she would say, “I guess you need to get back to your children” or something similar.

She had many talents and hobbies. She was an exceptional seamstress and artist. She took daily walks through the neighborhood and along the beach, where she collected seashells to use in her artistic creations. A consummate shopper, she always bought quality products but never paid full price. She enjoyed trips to a casino or Jai Alai. Christmas was her favorite holiday. Every gift was thoughtful and selected with a purpose.

She had a quick wit, a great sense of humor and always enjoyed a good laugh, as long as it was at no one else’s expense. One Christmas, she and her daughter wrapped up some gifts with the tag “from the Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.” Inside they had wrapped “tacky clothes,” which included a large shapeless dress the size of a small tent and men’s pants that were stitched together from two mismatched materials. From that Christmas on, the entire family looked forward with anticipation to the tacky clothes they would receive.

She was fiercely independent. Anything she could do for herself, she did. She asked very little, if anything, of others. Until the last month of her life, she often fixed her meals and paid her own bills.

Medical professionals were stunned by her physical toughness and resiliency. By several accounts, she should have passed away years ago from some acute illnesses, but she surprised her doctors and survived. As for pain, she seemed to feel none. She did not take pain relievers, even after hip, elbow and wrist surgeries. Even during the last month when they drew blood from her arteries, an excruciating procedure, she merely winced. More than one physician compared her to having the physical toughness of a Marine.

She was fearless. No one can recall her being afraid of any person or any event. When death was imminent, all she wanted was to pass away naturally at home.

Though she was a private person who was content to spend time by herself, those with whom she came in contact loved and respected her, for she was truly interested in their lives and their welfare. She made people feel valued and important because to her they were.

Family was the focus on her life. She did not pamper her children, but provided all they needed. As a parent, she established clear boundaries. “No” meant “no,” “yes” meant “yes,” and “I’ll think about it” meant she would think about it. Whining was not tolerated, but true pain was always compassionately alleviated. It was her belief that her children owed her nothing, for it was not their decision to be brought into this world. As a result, she never made them feel guilty about living far away or any other decisions they made.

The love she and her husband had for their children extended to their grandchildren and great-grandchildren, as well as any who married into the family. They attended nearly every event in which their children and grandchildren participated. During the three months every year they lived in North Carolina, they would sit in the cold winds of March or an early October snow shower to watch their grandchildren play baseball or soccer. Not just an observer, well into in her late 60s she could be found playing dodge ball in the backyard with her grandchildren.

Her children and grandchildren received from her the encouragement to explore the world and all its possibilities, to become the person they wanted to be.    

She did not talk much about her life, preferring to hear more about her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. She shunned the limelight. Even in photographs, she was rarely front and center, often smiling behind her children or grandchildren. In fact, she would most likely be upset for all of the “she’s” written here, but this is who she was, why she was loved, and why she will be missed beyond expression.
She was a remarkable lady who leaves a hole in the hearts of those who knew and loved her. She showed us how to live, and, in the end, how to die.

Elizabeth Lanier was predeceased by her parents, sister and husband.

She is survived by her daughter, Sharon Gail, her son, John Michael, and his wife, Debbie; three grandsons, John Joseph Lanier and wife, Jenny, Daniel Girard Lanier and wife, Kelli, and Justin Michael Lanier; and five great-grandchildren, Caroline Marie, John Ian, Emma Grace, Grayson Daniel and Norah Quinn Lanier.

A private service for the family will be held at a later date.

Her remains will be interred alongside her husband at the South Florida National Cemetery in Lake Worth, Florida.

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South Florida National Cemetery
6501 South State Road 7
Lakeworth, FL 33467

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