Obituary for Elfrieda "Fritzi" Ristau
Elfrieda Mary Ristau was born July 10,1927 the only child of Veronica and William Pauli. The Pauli’s were German immigrants to the United States in the years after the first world war. She was a talkative, pretty girl who was adored by her parents, to whom she was very devoted always.
She was raised in the Lutheran Church. Spoke both German and English fluently as both languages were used in her home. Her mother was an excellent cook who filled her home with German delicacies. She loved to dance and was always very social. She graduated from Linden High School in 1945. Her home was in Linden for most of her life, she married Herbert Ristau who would be her partner for over 43 years at age 21. Together they raised two children, Ronald born when she was 26 and Joanne born when she was 31.
As a mother, she was very active in supporting and nurturing her children. She was a girl scout and cub scout leader, provided dance lessons, music lessons, gymnastics, debutante balls, sports of all types and always desired to accomplish more. A soccer Mom before there were soccer mom’s. The family was supported by a family business and she and Herbie worked long and hard, often struggling financially as they built their business. It was a 24- hour job, but they always stayed the course and never quit.
The family life was centered around family gatherings, church social groups and friends from the neighborhood. She filled the house with people, food, card games, parties, politics and an endless supply of activity. Her celebration of life attracted people to her and her home. Every holiday and birthday was special and fully celebrated. It was a very good life.
She gave so much to everyone around her and asked very little. Later in life she was the primary caregiver to both her Mother who also suffered from Alzheimer’s and her husband who had suffered from rheumatic fever as a child and endured a damaged heart. She was tireless in her support through many difficult trials.
It was her husband’s health that brought her to Florida 31 years ago. They loved the weather and lifestyle in the state and were proud to call it home. When she relocated her daughter Joanne soon followed with her beloved granddaughter Michelle, where they continued their close relationship and she took an active role in raising and supporting both daughter and grandchild. A true labor of love.
She also cherished her grandchildren Laura, Ryan and Katherine Ristau, who loved to visit grandma and be spoiled as only a grandma can, whenever possible. She found a way to appreciate each child as an individual and followed their growth and development with intense interest. How are the kids, tell me what’s new in their life? Always her first interest. Cake and coffee or wine and cheese at her table were always a new opportunity to chat and feel her warmth.
Her husband Herbert passed young at 63. As she gradually rebuilt her life, after this tragedy, she always kept moving forward. She traveled the world extensively, danced always, played endless canasta and mahjong, became a champion bocce player, swam and exercised, became an auxiliary policeman, ran for the condo board, volunteered for every election, volunteered to build the Delray Christmas tree annually and generally engaged the world as the bundle of energy and movement she represented.
She welcomed four great grandchildren into the world and was blessed to meet Adrian, Oliver, Lilly and Shelby the children of her beloved granddaughter Michelle.
She was intellectually interested in religion. Raised a Lutheran she also allowed the Catholic faith and Jewish faith to influence her thinking. She was open and accepting of all and was really a mensch.
Late in life it was a variety of afflictions that tried to slow her, but it was Alzheimer’s that she could not beat. She faced it with courage and grace as long as she could but lost as all afflicted with this condition do. Thank you, Joanne who stepped in and took care of her at home until she it was no longer safe for her to be home. Thank you to Millie who cared for her as she was her own mother during this difficult period in her life.
So the world is a little less vibrant for those who knew and loved Fritzi. We all thank her for her unconditional love, spirit and the impact she had on our lives through her great example of approaching life with goodwill and zest which we will always cherish. We are grateful to God for her life and trust she is safe and protected by the eternal love of God the father.
A Memorial Service will be held on Friday, May 19, 2017 at 11:00 A.M. at Palm Beach National Chapel.
Share your memories of Elfrieda or express condolences to her family through this online book of memories.