Per her wishes, private family service, no funeral. Possible summer memorial event.
Elizabeth was born in Perth, Australia on 21 June 1948, joining her older brothers Neal and Bryan. Her parents, Betty and Wally completed the family with the birth of Lynette 4 years later. Elizabeth spent her childhood years in the country towns of York and Mount Barker, Western Australia. The family returned to Perth in 1961 where her mother had to learn how to cook without using a wood-fired stove and oven.
Liz had a wonderful easy-going and bright nature with a bit of spice and grit thrown in the mix. Anyone who ever played tennis against her would attest that she ran down every ball and often figured out an angle or slice to return the favor. She wasn't always the hardest hitter but she was often the most determined and wiliest player on the court, and used these skills to great effect over the years. Her Scrabble playing exhibited the same fighting style, and more than a few of us have lost more than a few (all, most?) games to her! These characteristics were not just sporting, but were core to her persona.
When family or friends needed advice or free therapy, Elizabeth was always a willing listener, often with practical and sage thoughts to offer. She had her own charming way of instantly making people feel comfortable and safe sharing whatever was on their mind. Her intuition usually enabled her to offer insightful ideas and suggestions for helping others manage through difficult situations. She used this wonderful skill throughout her own life and it served her and her family well throughout her life.
Elizabeth was educated at Presbyterian Ladies College in Perth where she excelled in several sports and her school work. She elected to pursue dental nursing and was soon employed in Albany and Perth.
At the time, the Australian government encouraged young Aussies to explore the world and provided discounted round-trip tickets. She left with friends and spent a year working in London and exploring Europe, at one point traveling in a Volkswagen bus and eating rice made over a campfire. As the time to return approached she and her friend Jenny took jobs to be au peres for families near New York City and extended their trip.
As the year in New York was nearing completion she traveled to San Francisco where she met Tom Purcell. 9 months later they married and Elizabeth became the loving mother of Rebecca, 6 and young Tom, 2.
After three years in Sacramento for Tom’s medical residency, he convinced her to move to Minneapolis, which for her might as well have been the North Pole! Soon after making new roots in Minneapolis, she gave birth to her son Brett.
In Minneapolis, Liz was a fiercely competitive and accomplished tennis player and was active in many tennis programs and made many wonderful friends through her sport. She was also heavily involved in the Women's Resource Center.
The family spent most of their summers enjoying Bayfield and Lake Superior. Later they would build a boat in Bayfield and purchase a home just outside of the town. She and Tom spent a decade of winters on the boat exploring and enjoying the Bahamas, Mexico, Belize and US rivers and intracoastal areas - frequently with family and various friends.
Around Bayfield, Liz enjoyed volunteering at Encore to raise money for senior care and she was active in teaching tennis to local children and securing USTA funds to refresh tennis courts in Washburn. She enjoyed creating and tending to her free-form garden and supporting local organic farmers.
Liz was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2011 and lived long and well enough to enjoy getting to know her two grandchildren, Dante and Logan, both now 6. Despite a grim prognosis and countless treatments, she always strived to live on her own terms and to not be defined by the disease that took her. Her last days were spent watching the ebb and flow of the ice on Lake Superior, which one night near the end treated her to what she described as "the sound of 1000 champagne glasses celebrating" as a winter storm broke the ice into a sea of tiny tinkling shards of ice. She died peacefully and painlessly while sleeping a few days later. We shared all the emails, cards and calls with her and she wanted to make sure that everyone knew their efforts were really appreciated and that each brought a smile to her face.
She will be missed by many, and by her husband Tom, children Brett, Tom and Rebecca, her 100-year-old mother Betty, siblings Lynette, Bryan and Neal and her 2 grandchildren.
Liz requested that any gifts or funds go towards The Clearity Foundation, which is dedicated to improving treatment options for ovarian cancer patients:
If you feel so inclined, we'd love to hear about great times you shared with Liz, funny stories, what made her special to you, or anything else you would like to share.
Much love from the extended Purcell family.