Lisette Jantil Landis (birth name: Jantil Danon) passed away at 1:30 AM June 30, 2021 at her home in Queens, NY after a several year struggle with Alzheimer’s. She was 95. Born in Istanbul, Turkey to Sephardi parents: Dr. Josef and Victoria Danon, she immigrated to NYC in 1946 sailing on a US Navy supply “Victory” ship.
Born on July 12, 1924 in Istanbul, Turkey she grew up in a somewhat closed and closely-knit Sephardic community. Her dad, Josef, our grandfather was a Captain/Medic in the Turkish Army Calvary. My mother, too, as a young girl, rode horses.
Josef was by all accounts a dedicated general practitioner and was constantly on house calls to Jews & Muslims, mostly to the poor. Mom had his giving and caring character. Josef was close to his Jewish roots. His granddad, our great great-grandfather was a Talmud Chachum, a Torah scholar.
Her mother (Victoria) was highly educated having attended British boarding schools in Instanbul.
Lisette had an adoring and admired older brother, Selim Danon. He was an attorney of some stature in Turkey. My mother was devoted to him. They were extremely close. He passed 20 years ago.
Mom spoke 5 languages: Turkish, Ladino, French. She went to a German lycee. Of course, being in the USA she quickly learned English after her arrival to the USA.
She married at NYC City Hall to our father, Guy Landis an Ashkenaz Turkish-German immigrant and accomplished multi-degreed electrical engineer and businessman.
She had 2 children: Jim and Vivian.
We all moved to Paris from 1957-60 where my Dad accepted an executive engineering management job with a global US company.
Returning to Queens, NY, my mom raised her 2 kids and then entered the retail business, spending some 25 years at Tourneau Watches at 52nd St & Madison Ave in Manhattan.
She was the belle of the ball, the life of the party, loved by all her co-workers and clients. Not an enemy in the world. Her innate joyful personality, street smarts, genuine caring and multi-lingual skills put her consistently in the top 3 sales persons each year. She loved taking a bus to the 179th station in Queens to grab the E or F to 5th/Mad stop by sleet, storm, no matter what – she loved it. Her life was made buoyant by the love and respect by all, including the owners of Tourneau who treated her like family.
She was always caring to us, to neighbors, friends, a stray dog, adopted cats. Her optimism throughout any life challenges was an antidote buoying her above the fray with jokes (sometimes risqué), laughter, giving, nights out with her co-workers. Or, at home cooking Sephardic style especially for the holidays. She loved culture and regularly attended dance, music, museum, ballet and theatre events.
Not formally college educated, she was none the less smart, inquisitive. She learned on the spot: jazz, opera, poetry, classical music. Even rock. She loved the Beatles, less the Stones. Folk music. Identified with the hippie culture. She was open to life. To experiencing the best it could offer.
My mother was head over heels for her granddaughter – Laura - flying her to NYC or to her condo in the Miami area…. Or, visiting her in LA where we lived. They were inseparable.
She loved to travel: many times to Turkey and Europe. To California to see her granddaughter. I took her to Hawaii about 11 years ago for a great time. She had already been diagnosed as having dementia; ultimately Alheimer’s.
A radiant smile, an easy laugh, a trusted friend, mom and grandma has now gone.
Forever remembered, forever missed.