From Charlotte Hoskins Herbert
Beth was a very special, unfailingly kind, and talented “old” friend. We spent our teenage and college years together at Shipley and Sweet Briar.
Many of my good memories at that time of my life were with Beth and her enthusiastic and warm hearted family, sharing fabulous family mealtimes that were nothing like my own. Beth’s Father animated the family dinners with great debates, and taught me how to have an opinion and defend it. Her Mother produced large dishes of beautiful and unusual (to me) food. The lunches Beth brought to school were varied & unique, such a contrast to normal PB&Js. Even then her appreciation of and knowledge about good, well prepared food was on a different level than the rest of us.
Beth had a beautiful voice which was heard in the dorm showers, and on the long drive to & from college in Virginia from Pennsylvania. Once, when Beth was about to perform a solo final performance for a class at SBC, she laughingly mentioned that she hoped she wouldn’t burp while singing because she’d forgotten not to eat before performing. She had an amazing ability to make light of adverse events. She sang at Brandywine one summer, as I remember, and was cast in Brigadoon, which I thought suited her beautiful joy and innocence. After college we moved into different lives and I lost touch with her.
When we again crossed paths in the mid 2000’s, she was visiting her son in New Zealand. She traveled to my brother’s vineyard north of Auckland (whom she knew from our high school years) while I was visiting him in order to investigate slow cooking food in NZ. She was researching the slow food movement at that time. Of course, she educated me about it and we had an unusual chance to visit and catch up on our lives since school days.
Beth was so much the same after all the years and many challenges in her life. She was positive, totally engaged with life, and humble about her very many accomplishments. Her sincerity, directness, intelligence, joy and enthusiasm made it easy to resume a friendship after such a long hiatus. I treasure the memory of that NZ visit, the chance to see her again, renew a special bond, and to appreciate her many wonderful talents.
I send my sincerest support to her family with my sorrow for the very large empty place she leaves in those whom she greatly loved.
From Ned Towle
Beth was special. Her breathless way of speaking expressed the positive energy and enthusiasm she felt about the important things in life – her family and friends, beauty, music, food and wine.
Her apartment was lovely; her flower arrangements were lovely; her singing was lovely, and her cooking was delicious. Modest, friendly, and accessible, she was a scholar, editor, and an accomplished chef, author, and singer.
I first knew Beth when she was a childhood camp friend of my sister. I did not see her often and no doubt there has been much in her life that I do not know. We did, in recent years, share our interest in food and wine, putting on a special wine dinner in upper Westchester, NY. As she said, with a laugh, “they surely got all and more than they paid for.” It was her way to give 100% effort and more.
The last time I spoke with Beth she was working on her book on cod. She had just had friends over and served them a Haitian cod dish. She liked it and said, “If I have anything to do with it, this recipe is going to be in the book!” She laughed.
It is tough to say goodbye to someone so full of life and, while into her senior years, so full of potential. Her memory will continue to grace my life.
From Christopher Riely
Toast at the Memorial Reception
From me and Andrew, I want to thank you all for coming today to honor and celebrate our mother’s life. It’s a real testament to her that so many of you are here from different times and parts of her life. She had many friends, and we’re glad to be learning and hearing more about those areas of her life that we’re less familiar with.
First of all, I can’t think of anybody who had a better mother. She was there for us in the fullest sense of the word. Certainly in all of the important things when we were growing up, but she truly encouraged and helped us be who we wanted to be. She also let us live our lives and usually didn’t give us unsolicited advice even when she probably wanted to. She totally supported me and Andrew in following career parts that are somewhat different from most of our peers. It was also great fun to do things with her. We took in countless baseball games, hiked to huts in the White Mountains, drove cross-country twice, and visited Northern Ireland as a family. When Sylvia came along unexpectedly, she embraced the role of being a grandmother. It was great to see her and Sylvia enjoying each other’s company over the past four years.
She was married for more than 30 years to our father John and I know that the reason that they were married that long is that they had a tremendously strong love for each other. She was fully there for him too.
Growing up, it was lively being the son of a food writer and historian because we got to go along for the ride and eat a lot of great food along the way, although I wasn’t always aware of it. When she was working on her culinary dictionary when I was in grade school, she sought out parents of my friends to help her with foreign food terms. On her fruit cookbook project a few years later, it was tricky getting some quince recipes just right and I remember seeing an awful lot of that fruit over a short time at family meals. Another fond memory comes from when she was called on short notice to do a restaurant review of Olives in Charlestown, when it was new and wildly popular. Despite being a 9th grader with a math test the next day, I got to join her because she needed help in tasting all the many dishes that were brought to our table from the kitchen.
You all know how important music was to our mother. It was a formative experience during the early part of her life, and I’m glad that she was able to return to it through the Boston Cecilia in recent years. It was wonderful to see her fully engaged serving as the board president as well as singing in the chorus.
As most of you know, our mother navigated her share of challenges over the course of her life. Her persistence and ability to look at the positive side of things were tremendous strengths. She had a talent for bringing people together, helping them work with each other, and encouraging them to be their best selves. I really respect the way that she developed an independent life of her own over the past 15 years that she seemed really happy with, especially since moving to Brookline. I’m glad that Andrew, Sylvia, and I got to spend quite a bit of time with her in recent months, including a visit during her last week in New Hampshire. Our mother didn’t demand attention; she wasn’t loud; but her life was elegantly accomplished and quietly inspiring and I know that we’ll be able to draw strength from that in our own lives in the years to come.
From Kathie Towle Hession
Tribute at the Memorial Service - Memories of My Friend Beth
Beth and I met over 60 years ago at Camp Winnemont, a summer camp on Lake Ossipee in New Hampshire. We were just 9 years old. We shared our summers at camp for seven years. Even as a child I realized what a good person Beth was. She always had a positive attitude. She was happy, joyful and caring. These traits she carried through her life.
Beth loved summer camp, especially singing the camp songs at every meal and every evening around the campﬁre before taps. Her talent for singing stood out and her enthusiasm for each song was contagious. Beth was a popular camper, as you would guess, always friendly and always very willing to join in on activities when asked. She was a whiz at playing jacks, which we played inside on rainy days. I think her favorite sport was swimming. She was an excellent swimmer. Cold New England lake water didn't bother her at all. She would stay in the lake as long as allowed.
Beth loved the outdoors and the nature that surrounded us at camp. We slept in tents and fell asleep with the moonlight shining on our faces. We canoed on the Saco River and camped on its beaches. We hiked on trails through woods, learning to identify birds, plants and trees. As campers we climbed Mt. Washington a number of times. Years later, she and I hiked together to Lake of the Clouds hut and found our signatures written when we were 11 years old, in the 1956 guest book.
Despite our busy personal lives, our childhood friendship continued. My husband Bob and I attended the grand occasion of her solo performance at the New England Conservatory. I was so proud of her performance in front of a large audience. As adults Beth and I have hiked together in the Adirondacks and in the White Mountains. Twice we were welcomed at a hut in the White Mountains by Andrew, who was a member of the Cru. That was very special.
Beth, the author of two books, kindly gave me copies of both. The Chef's Companion has been a valuable resource in our home. A Feast of Fruits is pulled out and poured through in the summer for delicious recipes to prepare for guests. Food section day of the Boston Globe would ﬁnd me checking for Beth's recipes.
Accomplished writer and vocalist, Beth's greatest personal pride has been her two sons. Our conversations were ﬁlled with information about the adventures and accomplishments of Christopher and Andrew, always related to me by Beth with joy and love. Most recently she has been one very happy grandmother of adorable Sylvia.
This past summer, 2016, Bob and I spent a few days on Squam Lake at Beth's family lodge with Beth, Andrew, Christopher, cousin Cece, granddaughter Sylvia and Sylvia's Mom Ingrid. Bob and I felt very fortunate to spend time with such a lovely family in a place that we all found breathtakingly beautiful. Beth was very happy to have her family together in her favorite place.
One evening, as Beth and I sat together on the lodge porch looking out over Squam, we agreed that the beauty of the rustic lodge and of the lake reminded us of our summer camp on Lake Ossipee. We sang some camp songs together and giggled over our memories.
I learned from my lifelong friendship with Beth what a true friend is. Beth cared about me and my family. She shared with me her joys and her talents. We will all miss Beth greatly. I will remember her joyfulness and her enthusiasm for life.
From Richard Knox
This morning we brace ourselves to memorialize Beth in a service full of beautiful music and fond remembrance. But seventeen days after her death, we can't believe we're doing this at all.
My wife Jean and I were privileged to spend Beth's last days with her. Last year she placed the winning bid, at a charity auction to benefit her beloved Cecilia, for a week at our "barn" guest house in Sandwich, New Hampshire. She planned her long-anticipated stay with typical attention to detail. To avoid unnecessary packing, we provided her with an exhaustive list of kitchen equipment and staples on hand; she arrived with more than a week's worth of premium ingredients, laughing at herself as we unpacked her rented four-wheel-drive Jeep.
From her many summers on Squam Lake, Beth was very familiar with the area. But her only wintertime visit, she explained, was on assignment from The Globe many years ago to write about ice fishing ("great fun!" she recalled), so she was unprepared for the beauty of the winter landscape. Christopher, Andrew and adorable Sylvia joined her for the Presidents' Day weekend. The weather was ideal for snowshoeing (a first for Beth), hiking (Christopher and his friend Heather scaled Mount Passaconaway), and cooking. When we ventured next door to the "barn," we loved hearing the laughter and lively conversation, The younger Rielys departed on Monday, but not before Beth made sure to corral them for a family photo -- "a rare opportunity," she explained. She stayed on.
It was an idyllic time filled with visits to area friends, a reunion with her long-time friends Lynn and Doug, who drove over from Maine to spend a night and a day, and priceless conversations with us -- accompanied, of course, by excellent food, drink, and music. Beth was in her element. We laid plans for a summer visit on Squam and an encore next winter.
Beth's last day dawned sparkling clear and unseasonably warm. That morning she wrote an ebullient email to her close friend Kendra, describing her view of "the entire Sandwich (mountain) range" and the joys of the previous days. Late that afternoon, she decided to go for a walk and asked Jean if she'd like to go along. Jean, who has never declined an invitation for a walk in the country, readily agreed. With stunning suddenness, Beth fell ill about a mile up the road.
From Andrew Riely
My mom - My, as I call her - was as genuinely kind, generous, and devoted a person as you can be. Full of life, wit, and a delightful silliness that emerged increasingly in recent years. Many, many people love her. She was unfailingly loyal and supportive, tenacious in support of her values and loved ones, and an inspired intellect. She had two careers, one in music and another in food. She was deeply engaged in working on a book on cod just now - it would have been her third. She wrote hundreds of articles during her four decades as a culinary journalist.
She nurtured my interests and well-being as only a parent can. Mountains, cities, Wodehouse, cooking, on and on. Confidante, companion, greatest fan, editor, giver of important advice and needed criticism. She put up with a lot of crap and continued to believe in me. My father used to say that she would lay down on the railroad tracks for my brother and me, and he was right.
Christopher, Sylvia, and I are extremely grateful for all the support we have received since Thursday. We will of course be organizing a memorial service in a few weeks and will get the word out as to the time and place. In lieu of flowers, we hope that you would donate to Sweet Briar College, her alma mater and a vital institution that really needs money, or the Boston Cecilia, My's beloved chorus.
For my own part, I know from experience that while the first couple weeks of grief are very difficult, the immediate imperatives and wonderful support network I have close by will get me through. It will probably be toughest as the weeks turn into months and a year or two. My's absence will leave a huge void in my life that can't be filled, but I hope that you all can help me get along in the next couple years. Thank you.
From Ingrid Heilke
Beth was a mix of old world charm and open-minded generosity. I was always truly happy to see her. She had welcomed me in as family and made a continual effort to make sure that I never forgot it, in the best of ways. As such, she was a playful and proud grandmother to my daughter Sylvia—singing, teaching, hugging, and engaging with Sylvia’s boundless curiosity. Beth was also an ideal “mother in law” (more mother than in-law, more friend than mother, and no laws involved). It was easy to take Beth’s motherly presence in my life for granted, knowing she was just there. As a friend, Beth was always a source of good conversation…and good food. As an atypical mother-in-law, amazing chef, and author of books about food and cooking, Beth had the good grace to sincerely compliment my mediocre cooking every time I shoveled some unrecognizable slop out of the kitchen. That’s just who she was.
As a mother myself, some of my favorite exchanges with Beth were simple commiserating grins amidst the eye-rolls or impatient huffs of her two brilliant, handsome sons. Beth’s sincere and joyful smiles (along with some well-placed, light-hearted commentary) said so much about her as a mother. She was comfortable in what she didn’t know, and willing to have a good laugh about it whenever opportunity allowed. There were also times when she was comfortable letting her sons make their own mistakes (if they weren’t yet ready to hear her wisdom). In any case, she was not one to push her agenda or fixate on a position. She was secure with herself and her love for the people around her and that was enough.
Beth’s vibrancy and spirit are inspiring. Her ambition was humble and understated, but in reality, she was always working on a project. Her mind was always moving, always creating, always flowing. Her creativity, generosity, and affability drew people to her. She died as she lived – engaged with the world around her. I miss her dearly and deeply.
From Isabel Chesak
Beth was one of the lovliest people I have ever known. She was such a talented writer. Even though I did not know her as well as I would have liked, I admired her so much, She and I shared many interess---cooking and food writing among many. I miss her and pray for her daily.
From Mary Lu DuClos
Beth, ever smiling, proud grandma, Beth. So easy to talk with and share! I was just getting to know you. No doubt you have already joined that choir in Heaven! You will be missed. Blessings and love to the family.
From Andrew Plaut
So here a most sad farewell to the refined, talented and generous Elizabeth with whom I shared love of music, usually at the Harvard Musical Association. But when I once jokingly mentioned that writers on food rarely tell readers what happens to it after swallowing, she not only agreed but then challenged me to write a pair of short pieces for the Radcliffe Culinary Times (on the science of vitamin B12 and celiac disease). Thereafter, she never failed to ask me what's new in the science of gastroenterology (my field). Persons of her quality are rare, and I'll deeply miss all that enthusiasm, and curiosity.
Pat Neithold Hertzberg
My heart goes out to Beth's family. Beth sang in our wedding in Goshen, NY in 1968. We were suite mates at Sweet Briar. We were fortunate to see her a few times over the years - in Washington, DC with Judy (Powell) Martin.
I loved hearing Beth sing. She was so accomplished and gave everyone great joy. I remember being at an SBC reunion years ago (maybe #10 or 15) where Beth sang in the chapel.
What a loss. I will always treasure my copy of the "The Chef's Companion.
My greatest sympathies to Christopher and Andrew. Your mother was well loved.
From Tink and Fran Taylor
Squam Lake summers won't be the same without Beth.
From Jim Whipple
We'll miss Beth for sure. Heaven is sometimes imagined as a banquet -- hope Beth is there.
Jim Whipple, Boston, fellow member of Harvard Musical Assn.
From Leslie Lamb
Elizabeth was a person of great intelligence, grace and kindness. She will be missed.
From Eli Alperowicz
I had the pleasure and privilege of advising her on some of her writing a woman of great grace intelligence and a very warm person as wall as a very good Cook!
I'm so sorry to hear of your loss and deepest condolences are extended to you. Something that's helped me through the death of loved ones is to reflect on 1 Corinthians 15:26.
From Don Stevenson
I provided in home computer support to Elizabeth for quite a number of years. She was a beautiful person with a beautiful home. She made me dinner once and it was simple, but over the top delicious. She was always the best person to work with and I was always happy to hear from her. I wish all my clients were half as nice as she was. The work just lost a really wonderful woman.
Best to the family