In Memoriam: Ele Schwartz – Leader, Teacher and Creator

Eleanor Schwartz, affectionately know as Ele, passed away on July 3, 2023. She was an exemplary leader for The Lace Museum, an extraordinary teacher of lace techniques, and an energetic creator in various lace methods.

Ele was an integral part of our museum’s day to day operations, striving to fulfill our mission to preserve the art of lace making and to provide instruction in all facets of lace making. She encouraged so many students and intrigued countless visitors with her vast knowledge and dedication.

Ele will be sorely missed, but fondly remembered in all that she created around her.

Ele – The Leader

Becoming the Chair of the Board. Museum founder, Cherie Helm, officially passes the gavel to Ele.

Ele was a longterm museum volunteer who served as our Chairman of the Board for more than fifteen years. As is our custom for board officers, in conjunction with her 80th birthday in 2013, Ele passed the gavel. She remained on the board until her death on July 3, 2023. During final her decade as a board member, Ele was known for having some great ideas and her unwavering support.

Ele always used to say that we all need to wear many hats, and she was no exception. During her tenure she staffed the museum every Wednesday, both as docent and teacher to bobbin lace students. To be a docent in our small museum means opening up, managing volunteers, running the gift shop, giving tours to visitors and literally any issue that came up during the day. Ele did it all.

We have lost track how many years Ele was the membership chair because it was “that long.” First done by hand, membership spreadsheets were eventually made on Ele’s Macintosh.

Dynamic Duo in Action, Sue and Ele were the team running the museum for about 15 years. They brought stability to Cherie and Gracie’s vision for the museum.
Debut of the Lace Families. This permanent exhibit is the public’s first introduction to lace when they come to our museum.
Vintage Sale. Ele working behind the collectibles counter with Ruth Roller.
Down time at the Vintage Sale. Ever protective of the cash box, Ele could be counted on to write the sales slips and check people out.

Ele – The Teacher

She held classes for bobbin lace and tatting after Cathleen Belleville retired. Ele was also an avid knitter, having owned a shop named Elegants. Both at her shop and at the museum, Ele taught Hardanger to those who wished to learn.

Make and Take. Ele helping a 5th grade student at a local elementary school.
Let’s Begin. Ele was a part of the first book published by the Museum, containing the curriculum she taught from.
Inspiring students. Bobbin lace samples from a student who learned with Ele at the Museum.
Colorful samples. Bobbin lace samples from a student who learned with Ele at the museum.
Tatting. Ele was a master tatter.

Ele – The Creator

Lifelong learner. Ele as a student, taking advanced bobbin lace with Lia Baumeister in the late 1990’s.
20th century Guild Meeting. Everyone is busy talking, except for Ele, who is working hard at her pillow.
Christmas ornaments. Ele adapted tatting patterns from books and antique lace into an ornament of the year each Christmas.
Designer. Ele hard at work drawing out a pattern for an ornament.

A sample of Ele’s ornaments. Ele’s specialty were her beloved ornaments that she would make each year as favors for our volunteer luncheon. The ornaments were often tatted, but in more recent years Ele had also been making bobbin lace.

Museum collection. Several of Ele’s designs are preserved in our Member Ornament Collection.
Personal collection. Chairman of the Board Karen Alger’s kitchen collection of Ele’s ornaments.
Personal collection. Managing Director Kim Davis’s miniature spring tree with Ele’s ornaments.

Founders Award 2019. Kim Davis presenting Ele with her Founders Award “in recognition of outstanding volunteer contribution as Lace Instructor, Docent, retired Chairman of Board.”

Memorial Service

There will be a memorial service for Ele on Friday, July 28 at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, 15885 Los Gatos Almaden Rd., Los Gatos, California 95032. The memorial service will take place at 10:30 am in the sanctuary followed by a luncheon in the Fireside Room. All who knew Ele are welcome.

In lieu of flowers, Ele’s family welcomes donations either to Holy Cross Lutheran Church or The Lace Museum. Donations made be by check or online. Details can be found here: Holy Cross Lutheran Church or The Lace Museum.

The Eleanor Schwartz Educational Experience

One of Ele’s favorite things was being invited to give an informational talk about lace to local groups. Comprised of 65 samples of lace, Ele would give an educational talk, where the lace samples were passed around for everyone to view up close. Kim and Ele were in the process of giving the talk a face lift at the time of Ele’s death. We will be dedicating this educational box of lace, and the educational experience that goes with it, as the Eleanore Schwartz Educational Experience for future docents and teachers to use.