Elise Bornschein, a teacher for nearly 30 years and a devoted church volunteer, died July 17 after a three-year battle with uterine cancer.
She was 75. Bornschein succumbed to her illness at Island Nursing and Rehab Center in Holtsville.
Born in May 1942 in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, she grew up speaking French, English and Norwegian, said her daughter, Denise Bornschein of Hampton Bays.
“She was a big talker and a big singer,” her daughter said.
When Elise Bornschein was a teenager, she and her parents moved to Floral Park. She graduated from Floral Park Memorial High School in 1959.
The next year, she met future husband Charles Bornschein on a blind date. He had enlisted in the Navy and was stationed in Cuba for a few months before returning to New York. Elise’s friend set up the date and told her to compliment Charles on his tan if she approved of him.
“And she just kept saying to him, ‘That’s a nice tan, that’s a nice tan,’ and my dad had no idea what she was talking about,” Denise Bornschein said.
Elise and Charles were married May 1960 in Floral Park and were inseparable for 57 years.
“Theirs was a total and real romance,” Denise Bornschein said. “They] would argue all the time, but she would always get her way.”
Elise and Charles Bornschein had three children.
At 25, she enrolled in Suffolk County Community College and received an associate degree. She obtained a bachelor’s in teaching science from now-defunct Dowling College in 1976 and a master’s in teaching from Stony Brook University in 1979.
She was employed at Sagamore Junior High School in Holtsville, where she taught for 29 years.
After retiring, she and her husband became avid quilters. They spent hours making quilts while talking to friends at a quilting workshop in Southold led by psychologist Maureen Shea.
“We’re not patients, we’re retired,” Elise Bornschein told Newsday in a 2008 article about the workshop.
Being away from the classroom also meant Elise Bornschein could devote more time to her church — United Methodist Church of Lake Ronkonkoma — where she became a profilic volunteer.
Church pastor, the Rev. Constance Pak, said Elise Bornschein went from being her parishioner to her good friend. She was a compassionate and caring woman, Pak said, even when cancer started to take its toll.
“She would say, ‘I’m in a win-win situation’,” Pak said. “She’d say, ‘If I beat this, then I’m still going to be here and, if I don’t, I will be with Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior’.”
In addition to her daughter and husband, Bornschein is survived by another daughter, Serena Lynn of Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, and son Charles, of Lake Ronkonkoma.
Elise Bornschein’s funeral was held Friday at her church. She was cremated.