Elsie H. Robertson

Elsie Hartlieb Robertson, known as Talu Robertson, 80, a resident of Keene, died at home on July 4, 2019, after co-existing in harmony, humor and occasional conflict with melanoma, breast cancer and ovarian cancer for 15 years. She was clear in saying that if the words brave, struggle or battle were used in the description of her relationship with her various cancers, she would haunt us all for the rest of our lives. Her family was with her at the time of her death.

Elsie was born on Oct. 14, 1938, to Henry and Marie (Sieh) Hartlieb in Port Chester, N.Y. Elsie’s grandfather, Louis Hartlieb, operated the Hartlieb Meat Market on Willett Avenue in Port Chester for many years.

She graduated from Port Chester High School in 1955 at the age of 16. The loss of her mother at a very young age — as a freshman in college in 1955, had a huge impact on her life. Her mother left her with much wisdom, including “You know, life is just one damn thing after another.” Another huge impact on her life was her service as an Appalachian Frontier Nurse in Hyden, Kentucky, during her sophomore year at Keuka College. This experience taught her to do for others when able

She graduated from Keuka College cum laude with a Bachelor of Science in nursing in 1959. Elsie was proud to have been appointed to the New Hampshire commission on Children and Youth by Gov. Meldrin Thompson. She served in various volunteer capacities under five different governors, Republican and Democrat, from which she learned that no matter the reality, the perception of that reality determines the outcome of many issues.

Talu returned to graduate school at UMass Amherst in her 40s with a self-designed concentration in Gifted Adolescent Underachievement. She graduated in 1988 with a M.ED. and an Ed.D. She continued her career as core faculty in the education department of Antioch University New England for 13 years. Elsie was also active in the Unitarian Universalist church and was guided by its principal to “Respect the inherent worth and dignity of every human being.”

She is survived by her husband, Timothy, who she married on Sept. 7, 1958; her children, Andrew Robertson, Kristin McKeon and Lincoln Robertson; their spouses, Mary Ann Clifford Robertson, Jon McKeon and Heather Piche. She is also survived by her grandchildren, Chloe McKeon, Yari McKeon and his wife, Liz Laliberte McKeon, and their son, Oliver James McKeon, Tristan Robertson and Amira Robertson. In addition, she is survived by her sisters, Marilyn Hartlieb Wade of Kennebunk, Maine, and Barbara Saari Massicotte of Surry; as well as cousins, nieces and nephews.

She asked that, rather than make a list of all her eclectic professional and volunteer activities, we share with you the following: What she did with her life was not the point, it is the WHY. Everything she ever did was to facilitate the ability of children — her own and others — to grow to healthy, happy, full-functioning adulthood, a goal which she did not fully understand until she was in her 40s, when she realized that it did not matter whether she worked with children, adults, individuals, groups, organizations, institutions, or government entities, the goal was the same. She also shared, “Everything I have done in this life has been with the total love and support of my husband, Tim. He has been supportive, loving and kept us both laughing through thick and thin, whether he agreed with me or not. Our children, in-law children, grandchildren and great-grandchild have brought such joy and happiness (and the occasional horror, worry, or sadness) into my life that I cannot express it. Thank you, all of my family, for being who you are, and for being part of who I am.”

Services will be held at the Keene Unitarian Universalist Church, 69 Washington St., Keene on July 13. Calling hours will be from 10 to 11:15 a.m. A memorial service will begin at 11:30 a.m.

As charity was important to Talu, flowers are not preferred. Contributions in Talu (Elsie)’s memory may be made to The Keene Family YMCA, Hospice, MAPS Counseling Services, The Keene UU Church, Tamarack Towers Foundation of Port Chester High School, or the charity of your choice.