Mistress Elsa de Lyon passed from this world on October 20, 2016, leaving behind two sons and their families, her mother and the remainder of her family – both chosen and blood relatives – and many, many friends.
Elsa began her journey in the SCA in 1991, in the Shire of Montevale. Her wish to spread her creative talents and help others made her a community leader in her Shire as a Minister of Arts and Science from 2001 to 2004, with a small break from officer work for a few years to again step up and become Seneschal for the Shire of Montevale for five years (2009-2014). Recently, she had become A&S Minister again, because she wanted to continue to serve her local group, and enjoyed this role.
Although she would also serve as a head cook at a few events in the western portion of the Southern Region over the years, many remember her best as a scribe in the East Kingdom College of Scribes. While she physically could not travel the Kingdom, her work would travel to the far corners of the Kingdom and across Kingdom borders to inspire others over these many years.
Elsa was a regular teacher at Pennsic, whether taking groups out for a weed walk, teaching basic calligraphy courses at the Aethelmearc Scribal Track and also helping with setup and breakdown at scribal gatherings at Pennsic. At home, she was a gentle lady, always willing to help others develop their artistic skills in informal one-on-one lessons, at demos, and in occasional local A&S workshops. Her skill was noticed by the Society Chronicler in A.S. 36 and she was nominated for a William Blackfox award for her work on the December 2001 cover of the Montevale Knightly Knews.
Iris by Mistress Elsa
After being recognized with an Award of Arms, a Maunche, the Queen’s Honor of Distinction (Jana IV), and the Order of the Silver Crescent, Elsa was issued a Writ of Summons by Their Graces Brennan and Caoilfhionn in May of 2014, commanding her to appear in court at Southern Region War Camp to consider her elevation to the Order of the Laurel. On June 28, AS 49 (2014), Elsa was released as an apprentice by Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte, and her elevation was witnessed by all present including her household Clan Black Dragons, her son Ryan, and scribes from the Mac Whyte House.. Speakers for her elevation included Master Denys the Decadent of Aethelmearc, Sir Wulfbrand, Duchess Roxane, Mistress Farasha, and Elsa’s first Laurel, Mistress Brighid the Limner, whom had previously retired from the SCA and returned for this special occasion.
In recent years, Elsa made a point of traveling to Pennsic each year to see friends from afar, and could always be found working on something creative that would cause joy to both herself and others.
Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte shares the following memories of her student and friend:
“I had met Elsa at one of the first Known World Scribal Gatherings at Pennsic (about 16 years ago), held in Midrealm Royal camp at the time. I was in my first year as a scribe in service to the East Kingdom College of Scribes, maybe in my 3rd year in the SCA as a whole, and I recall being overjoyed to bump into someone from “back home”, despite the physical distance between us. We remained in touch through the castle.org mailing list for scribes and via email for many years after, and into the years when social media became available. In 2012 while I served as Tyger Clerk of the Signet, I was able to see her work a bit more often, and marveled again at her talent. Although she had the strong support of her local community, and although I viewed her as more of an equal if not my better in many ways, we spoke privately and we had agreed that an advocate for her behind the scenes was needed, and entered into a student-peer relationship, which became an apprenticeship at Pennsic the following year. We would continue to stay in touch, becoming closer within the last five years, albeit perhaps not as close as her SCA household and mundane family.
Detail from a Queen’s Cypher scroll
Our last meeting was at Pennsic 45, at which Elsa and I would meet every day, making the most of the time we had together since we rarely had opportunity during the rest of the year to travel to see each other; her schedule was just as busy as mine, but I would always hear of the success of her prize-winning daffodil bulbs (goodness, she could tell you a million different things about daffodils and other members of the Amaryllidaceae family) as a master gardener and competitor in local gardening shows, or occasions where she had time to teach others at demos or events. We also shared our concerns over the welfare of and recognition of gentles in the southwestern borders of the East Kingdom, and she took to heart her duties as a new peer in looking after others in her community, encouraging them to grow further in the SCA. When we parted ways at the close of this past Pennsic, we probably took several attempts at saying goodbye, knowing it would be a while before we would see each other again.
We made the most of the time we had, and the East was blessed to have this gentle woman among us, with a smile, laughter and gentle demeanor that influenced others across Kingdom borders. She was the kind of person I wanted to be when I grew up, long before I was a peer, and I and others have been honored to have known her simply as a friend, grateful for having her in our lives, and her example to live by.”
A memorial service for friends will be held at Gensel Funeral Home at 333 Falling Spring Road, Chambersburg, PA 17201 on Saturday, October 29 2016. Please note that her family has requested that friends of Elsa wishing to attend please arrive at 1:00pm, one hour prior to the family service at 2pm.
A GoFundMe page (originally set up for her medical expenses for recovery) has since been left up online to cover funeral costs as well. A memorial page has been set up by her family.