PARAMUS, N.J. – Elisabeth Willemsen-Venutolo, a resident of Denville and formerly of Paramus, died Friday, June 3. She was 92.
Born in Germany, she survived World War II to go on to medical school and permanently move to the United States, where she began her clinical fellowship in ophthalmology at the Cleveland Clinic. She was one of only two women in a class of more than 100.
For many decades at her private practice in Paramus, she was a widely respected eye doctor. She was a member of American Medical Association and the American Association of University Women.
She gave generously to Catholic and international causes, donated many years of her time to give vision to people with no access to medical care in Belize and sponsored countless children around the world who had no previous access to education.
A self-described eccentric, she spent her retirement years traipsing through remote jungles as a medical missionary and diving into adventures that included gliding and parasailing.
She traveled from the Great Wall of China to the sailboats of Sydney, the Cliffs of Dover to the shores of Cape Town and through Russia, South America and Africa. She helped save rain forests and fought injustice even when it brought her in danger.
She is survived by her children, Elizabeth Russell of Miami, Fla., Felicia Cowie and her husband Stephen of Waldwick, Catherine Baxter and her husband David of Moultonborough, N.H. and Maria Foy and her husband Michael of Wolfeboro, N.H.; grandchildren, Lauren, Alisun, Benjamin, Allison, Melissa, Brianna, Michael and James; and great-grandchildren, Luke, Arianna, Logan, Orion and Jocelynn.
The family will receive friends from 2-4 and 7-9 p.m. Sunday at the Vander Plaat Memorial Home, 113 S. Farview Ave., Paramus. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at the funeral home, followed by an 11:30 a.m. funeral Mass at Our Lady of the Visitation R.C. Church, 234 N. Farview Ave., Paramus. Interment will be at the George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus.
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