Louise Jean Hauser Russo: Educator and Philanthropist
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February 3, 1921 – December 3, 2020
On Thursday, December 3, 2020, beloved member of the community, Louise Hauser of Auburndale MA., passed away at the age of almost 100. Louise led a very long life, in good health until the end, and above all a rich and generous life. For those who stay behind, there is ample reason mourn her passing, but at the same time, they can celebrate a full life. Through the George and Louise Hauser Charitable Trust, her contribution will extend far beyond her death.
Louise Russo was born shortly after World War I in a large devout Catholic family, from Italian descent, with four sisters—Helen, Marguerite, Mildred, and Marie—and a brother, Joseph. She was the youngest. Her father was a commercial real estate agent in Boston. She grew at 176 Dedham Street, Newton Highland, with a large garden where the family grew corn and potatoes, had an orchard with apple trees, and garage used as a barn for a cow.
From an early age, the children had to help in the garden. Louise was closest to Marie, with whom she would sneak from the work in the garden to play tennis. Louise went to Hyde Primary School, Weeks Junior High School, and Newton High School, before she entered Framingham State College, Class of 1944, where she got a degree in Education. While she was, by her own account, “a shy girl, a bit overwhelmed at school”, she eventually became class president and gave many talks for the college, where she was recognized an outstanding teacher.
Teaching little children was an enduring passion in life. Louise became a primary school teacher at private (summer camps at Fessenden) and public schools (first Weston, then for the most of her career Newton Underwood School). By the mid-1970s, she became a consultant to schools and as such began to travel around the country.
Louise married George Hauser, a Jew, who fled Austria in 1939, and a decorate soldier in the US Army in France in World War II (US Purple Heart and Bronze Medal, and Légion d’Honneur de France). After the war, when they met, he was an up-and-coming neuro-chemical researcher at McClean Hospital in Belmont, became eventually a professor at Harvard Medical School, and was decorated by Austria for his contributions to science with the Austrian Cross of Honor for Science and Art, First Class.
George and Louise Hauser settled at 47 Windermere Road, Auburndale, West Newton. The house was unique in the neighborhood and a wonderful expression of both of their heritages. On the outside, it exudes a Mediterranean style with red roof tiles and off-white stucco walls, and on the inside the ambiance is distinctly Middle European with dark Mahony doors, stairs, and fire places, tempered light, and a distinct scent. Over the years, they had a couple of dogs (Tuli, and Ethan), whom Louise was very fond of.
With George, she pursued another passion—travel. She made many trips to Europe, visited George birth house in Vienna, and loved Milan and Paris. George imported a green Volvo P1800, which differentiated them even more from the quintessential modern American suburb they had settled in.
By the 1980s, Louise’s passion for little children found its way to the New Community Center, where she focused on families in need with little children. Over time, the Center was reconfigured into “Family Access”, and Louise became a generous philanthropist and board member for many years, for which we received recognition in 2018.
Art was yet another of her passions. In the 1960s, she got to know Gertrude and Karl Drerup. Karl, an immigrant from Nazi Germany had become a well-known American artist, teaching in Plymouth New Hampshire. After Gertrude, passed away in 1977, she took care of Karl, and his artwork. Eventually, her house would become a private art gallery of Karl’s work, which covered every wall, and gave the house an added sophistication.
Importantly, Louise had a group of close girlfriends, which included some fellow teachers, as well as Gertrude Drerup-Lifmann, Marjorie Lees, Sue Leeman, Audrey Cooper, Mikki Ritvo, Dora, Gwendoline Thornblade, and her sister Marie Schafer-Russo.
By the late 1970 until the 1990s, she and George would rent a quaint house, Sweet Fern, from Dorothy Smith, on Big Squam Lake, located up a hill with an unrivalled view of the lake (“The Golden Pont”), usually for the summer, and invite their friends to come over. Everybody was invited to play tennis, dip in the lake, and take part in the tennis tournaments.
They would also entertain their friends for Sunday brunches in Auburndale, even when first George’s father, then Louise’s mother, and finally Karl, all in their nineties, would spend their last years at their home. They also invited year after year students from abroad, through e.g. “The Experiment in International Living”, to stay with them for weeks and even months. Willem Overmeer and Ubaldo Leli was two of them.
Classical music, for years the program “Pro Musica” by Robert J. Lurtsema on WGBH, was always on in her house, and she listen to until her last breath. She would also attend performances of the Boston Symphony, with Gwendoline Thornblade, and would attend her daughters’ (Sara, violin, and Becky, cello) performances.
A private memorial service will be held on December 15, from 11 to noon at the Burke & Blackington Funeral Home. Friends are welcome to view virtually at https://client.tribucast.com/tcid/66186350 In lieu of flowers, contributions on her behalf can be made to Rosie’s Place.