Elizabeth Daher - Educator and homemaker, died on January 13 th , 2019 at age 93 after a long illness.
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Elizabeth was a celebrated beauty with a commanding presence who used her gifts to help others. A devoted parishioner at Saint Julia’s Parish in Weston, Massachusetts, she leaves behind a large family who miss her greatly and who owe their presence in this country to her.
Elizabeth was the motive force that propelled the immigration to America of her husband, her children and her brother. Her care and concern for her extended family, or anyone in need who came her way, was notable. She was good-natured, smiled easily and loved getting to know people. This affability was matched with a daring disposition and a tenacious nature. She set high goals for herself and her family, and labored intensely to achieve them. Joy and grit were her most salient attributes. A visiting Polish priest helped by Elizabeth remarked that if she had been his mother he would have become Pope.
She was born Elizabeth Ribeiro de Sa in Sao Gotardo, Minas Gerais, Brazil. Her birthplace had rich agricultural land and a pleasant highland climate. It had been settled by some of her ancestors at the close of the 18 th century. Few of the advances of the 20 th century had reached the Brazilian hinterland by 1925 when Elizabeth was born.
Despite her family’s local prominence, life was arduous and the threat of fatal illness ever present. It was also a time of considerable political instability and even civil war in Brazil. A beloved uncle was forced to serve one of the warring sides for two years, during which time the family knew nothing of him. Another relative was left paralyzed when shooting broke out at a political rally. Her father was murdered, as was one of her brothers. Another brother succumbed to inadequate medical hygiene.
Left without a father at age fourteen, she took on the responsibility of caring for a sickly mother and seven younger siblings. She had the choice of staying in the countryside where her family had the resources to support her and her siblings. However, in the place of her birth, medical services and schools were rudimentary. The other choice was to move away from her birthplace to an urban area where her mother would receive better medical care and her siblings would have better schooling and job prospects. As soon as she reached majority, Elizabeth made the daring choice of moving her mother and siblings to a larger city, a provincial capital, where she knew few people. However, in the bigger city she had a vital connection, her cousin Laura Nascimento dos Santos, who was a prominent jurist at a time when such a thing was rare in Brazil for women. Laura and Elizabeth were great friends from childhood because they were alike in many ways; both being beautiful, clever, charming, audacious and persistent. Laura, and her husband, Geraldo, an engineer and congressman,
were unstinting in introducing Elizabeth to their social and professional circles.
Elizabeth became a teacher at the primary and secondary level to help support her mother and siblings in the new city. She was a believer in education, and her efforts were rewarded in that five of her seven siblings graduated from university. In her cousin’s social circle, she met her future husband, Saleh Jorge Daher. Saleh was the brilliant and intense son of a prominent Lebanese family. It was a famous romance; the sparkling daughter of an old family marries the promising son of immigrants. She married late for her day, at age 29, in part because she was engrossed with the care of her family, in part because she had high standards for a husband.
The couple thrived economically and socially, driven by his intelligence and energy, and her sagacity. The girl who came from the countryside in straightened circumstances was now at the center of the elite of the province. Four children came in close succession. Elizabeth was determined that her children would not face the uncertainties that haunted her adolescence. When Saleh was offered the chance to do graduate work at MIT, Elizabeth leapt at the opportunity. Her husband planned to return to his academic and business pursuits in Brazil once he completed his studies abroad. Elizabeth had other ideas. She saw this as a chance to make another daring jump, this time from a provincial capital in Brazil to the academic hub of the world. In time, her dream was realized. Three of her children received degrees from MIT, as did a granddaughter. Other granddaughters would graduate from Cornell and Carnegie Mellon. A grandson would receive a graduate degree from the University of
New Hampshire, another now studies computer science at U Mass Amherst.
She is survived by her daughter Elizabeth Daher Fasse and sons Saleh Daher Jr., William H. Daher and Mauricio Daher, her children in law, Peter Fasse, Jone Aboitiz Daher, Camilla Cabot Daher and Susan Towler Daher, her grandchildren Elizabeth Ana Maria Daher Fasse, Laura Aboitiz Rabideau, Grace Aboitiz Daher, Elizabeth Cabot Daher, Sister Camilla Cabot Daher, William Cabot Daher, Isabella Daher, Christian Towler Daher and Julia Towler Daher, her grandson in law Dustin J. Rabideau, and her great- grandchildren Theodore Daher Rabideau and June Daher Rabideau.
As her health declined in the past few years, she still insisted on faithfully attending Sunday mass. She became a familiar figure at the front of the church at Saint Julia Parish. Swaddled in fur and wool, all dyed in her favorite red, she would sit in her wheelchair and pray. May God grant His eternal peace to this loyal daughter.
There will be a visitation with the family at the Burke Funeral Home, 56 Washington Street, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481, from 2:00 to 5:00 PM on Sunday, January 20 th , 2019. A funeral mass will be held in Elizabeth’s memory at Saint Julia Parish, 374 Boston Post Road, Weston, MA 02493 at 10:30 AM on Monday, January 21 st , 2019. In lieu of flowers, please send contributions to the Montrose School, montroseschool.org.