SHELBURNE, Vt. — Elizabeth "Liz" Harding Pasti, 84, artist and matriarch extraordinaire, died peacefully in Shelburne, Vt., on May 17, 2013, following a battle with cancer.
She was born on Oct. 4, 1928, in Akron, Ohio, to Harry Gordon and Mary Frances Harding, the first of six children. While a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, she met and married the love of her life, George Pasti Jr. The newlyweds sailed to England in 1948 and lived there for two years.
In 1950 they settled in Greenville, N.C., where Elizabeth completed her Bachelor of Arts degree from UI in 1956, and went on to earn her Master of Arts degree in English from East Carolina College (now ECU), in 1962. Elizabeth was the "General" in charge of a household that came to include five children. She organized more than a dozen family moves, including yearlong stays in Massachusetts, southern California, northern California, and Hawaii. The family eventually landed in Plattsburgh, N.Y. in 1967.
Elizabeth ventured into the workforce in her 50's, ultimately becoming Director of Lifelong Learning at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh. She received a Certificate of Distinguished Service from the Association for Equality and Excellence in Education and the Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Professional Service from the State University of New York.
Elizabeth was active in every community she belonged to, contributing to committee work, grant preparation, and publications and serving as mentor to many. She co-founded the Unitarian Fellowship in Greenville and a chapter of the League of Women Voters in Plattsburgh. More recently, she served on the board of the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, held annually in the Burlington, Vt. area, and took great pleasure in supporting this festival and music and the arts generally in the North Country.
Elizabeth was artistic and creative her entire life. She worked with many media, including clay, textiles, and charcoal. Her pastels, oils, and watercolors, created over the past 25 years, appeared in several exhibitions in northern New York and Vermont, including a one-woman retrospective in Shelburne, Vt. in 2012, and now grace private collections. She served for years as a docent at the Rockwell Kent Gallery of the Plattsburgh State Art Museum.
Elizabeth was known for her generosity and welcomed all to her home. Summertime on Cumberland Head, N.Y., would find all five children and their families, friends, cats, and dogs rotating in and out, along with dozens of other guests. She whipped together home-cooked meals for the crowds, often using vegetables freshly picked from her garden. When the lake warmed up, she swam every day.
Elizabeth loved to travel and went on many trips, touring much of Europe, camping across the United States, and making a memorable round-the-world trip with her husband.
Elizabeth and George moved to the Wake Robin life care community in Shelburne in 2002, where they found many kindred spirits. Elizabeth particularly enjoyed the oil and watercolor classes and the reading and poetry groups. She made new friends and said many times that moving there was one of the best decisions they ever made. Her family would like to thank the Wake Robin community for their extraordinary generosity and support, especially in the last months of Elizabeth's life. The Wake Robin staff - health care staff, food service workers, administrators, environmental service workers, and so many others - went out of their way to provide exceptional care.
Elizabeth was predeceased by George Pasti Jr., her husband of 61 years. She is survived by daughters Mary of New Haven, Conn., Pamela of San Leandro, Calif., and Susan (Lita Weingart) of Old Town, Fla., and by sons Lawrence (Jeanne) of Plattsburgh, N.Y., and George Michael (Barbara) of Newburyport, Mass. She is also survived by grandsons Eric (Jamie) Pasti of Portland, Ore., and Adam Pasti of Brookline, Mass.; granddaughters Katherine and Caroline Pasti of Newburyport; great-granddaughters Olivia and Charlotte Pasti of Portland; a brother, John Windsor Harding (another brother, Harry Gordon Harding Jr., predeceased her); three sisters, Marian Thompson, Frances Law, and Ruth Harding; and numerous nephews and nieces.
Friends and relatives are invited to celebrate Elizabeth's life at a remembrance gathering at 2 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, at Wake Robin, 200 Wake Robin Road, Shelburne, Vt.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival, 20 Winooski Falls Way, Suite 7, Winooski, VT 05404, the Wake Robin Residents' Assistance Fund, 200 Wake Robin Drive, Shelburne, VT 05482, or a charity of your choice.