Elda Chisholm (1919-2019) Memorial Service, Stanford Memorial Church, November 19, 2019, 2 pm
Elda Mary Digiuni was born in Boston, MA on June 16, 1919. Her parents, Carlo Clinio & Filomena, had come to the US from
Pizzighettone near Cremona, Italy in 1913, and became US citizens when Elda was three years old. As a little girl, Elda
practiced ballet. In high school, she was a star French student, an accomplished runner, and would work for four years part-time
at the Newton Public Library.
In 1939, Mom received a 2-year degree from Boston University School of Education
to become a librarian, and starting in 1945, worked in the libraries at MIT. She married our Dad, John (“Jack”) Chisholm, in
May, 1947, in Trinity Church in Boston, which stands across from the John Hancock Tower today. Dad and Mom loved the
music of Gilbert & Sullivan and sang as a sailor and maiden in a production of HMS Pinafore, among other G&S light operas.
After that, Mom & Dad moved to a bungalow on Sunset Road in Marblehead overlooking Salem Harbor. Jaclyn
Elda (“Jackie”) was born in 1950 and John Dana was born in 1954. We had a dinghy and lobster pots and would collect lobsters
in Salem Harbor. We lived with a dog, Rexy; a rabbit, Peter; and a cat, Bottom (named after the Shakespeare character in
Midsummer's Night Dream). In the winter, all three animals would huddle together in front of the fire, a mass of black fur, one
indistinguishable from the other. During that time, Mom worked part-time at both MIT and Harvard Littauer Library.
In our family’s greatest life adventure, in 1959 we moved from Marblehead to West Palm Beach, Florida, where Jack
had accepted a job with Pratt & Whitney. Jack and Elda drove a Ford Mercury and Nash Rambler with two kids, our dog Rexy,
and rabbit Peter (Bottom, the cat, was semi-feral and stayed behind). We then flew from Ft. Lauderdale to Havana on
Mackey Airlines; our vacation got cut short when all tourists were rushed out of Cuba due to the revolution. Jackie recalls that
our flight was the last Mackey ever made out of Cuba. After a year in West Palm we settled in a house in Jupiter, Florida at the
corner of Lighthouse Drive and Beacon Lane, within walking distance of the ocean, where we kids grew up and where
Mom would live until 2004 (Dad died in 2000). In 1964, our family spent a week in Jamaica as part of an exchange program
between Bethesda by the Sea Episcopal Church in Palm Beach and St. Margaret’s Church in Kingston; the island enchanted
Mom. While Jackie and John Dana were growing up, Mom worked as a librarian at Jupiter Elementary School, Lake Park Public
Library, and Rosarian Academy in West Palm Beach, where Jackie graduated in 1969. Mom would later earn her bachelors
degree from Florida Atlantic University at age 52 in 1971, the same year John Dana graduated from Jupiter High School.
After that, Mom worked as a schoolteacher and permanent sub in Palm Beach County Schools for over three
decades. She became active in the MIT Club of the Palm Beaches and served as its president. She traveled widely, to such
places as Japan, China, Thailand, and the Black Sea, often with MIT travel groups. During winter months, she would often rent
out our home in Jupiter to northerners for several weeks and attend Elderhostels in northern California. In Jupiter, when she
wasn’t working, she walked along the beach, swam in the ocean, wrote poetry, and played with her cat Cinnamon Kitten (aka
Scaliwag). Her illustrated poetry was long on display in the narthex of Bethesda by the Sea. When Mom finally retired from
teaching in 2004, they had no idea she was 85.
In 2004, we sold our house in Jupiter and Mom moved to Oak Creek Apartments in Palo Alto, about a mile from John Dana in Menlo Park. During this time, she would tutor Stanford faculty visitors from overseas in English. In 2009,
shortly after John Dana moved to San Francisco, Mom moved into his townhouse on Sand Hill Circle, where she would live for
almost six years. During this time, Mom frequently enjoyed dancing with Friday afternoon senior groups in Palo Alto. In July of
2013, Mom, Jackie, Jimi and John Dana spent a wonderful weekend at Old Monterey Inn and went whale-watching on
Monterey Bay. Later that same year, Mom and John Dana flew down to LA to have Thanksgiving dinner at the home of cousins
Phil & Cecily Tasker in Santa Monica, with Phil’s parents, Tom and Jane Tasker.
In July 2015, Mom moved from Sand Hill Circle in Menlo Park to Brookdale, a senior community in nearby Redwood City,
where she again enjoyed dancing, and doting on her adopted cat, Punei. Mom stayed at Brookdale until January 2017, when
after a stroke she and her caregiver Ester came to live with John Dana in San Francisco. They stayed until August 2018,
when Mom moved to Alma Via memory care community in San Francisco. On June 16, 2019, we celebrated her 100th birthday
in a big birthday party in San Francisco. After that, her health declined. She died peacefully on September 4, eighty days after her 100th birthday.