Liselotte Isabella Fessler
April 24, 1924-December 4, 2016
Liselotte “Lisa” Isabella Fessler died peacefully Sunday evening, December 4th, surrounded by family. She lived her life fully, efficiently, and lovingly. Born in Heidelberg on April 24, 1924, Lisa fled Nazi Germany with her two younger siblings on the Kindertransport in 1939, arriving in England to be housed by local families until they could reunite with their parents in Michigan in 1940.
Lisa’s determination and intelligence took her to the University of Michigan at age 16 where she had earned her BA at 19, later an MA, and then her Ph.D from the University of Wisconsin at age 31 in the field that is now called biochemistry. She met John Hans Fessler while working at Massachusetts General Hospital, where he captured her interest by laying down his lab coat to protect her from a colleague’s spill in the Doctors’ Cafeteria. They married at Harvard’s Appleton Chapel on August 17, 1958.
Lisa and John later moved to Oxford, England where they had their first son, Steven, and then to Sierra Madre, California where their son, Daniel, was born. In 1967, their family moved to Brentwood when Lisa and John began working at UCLA, where they would later run the Fessler Lab for more than 40 years. Lisa and John regularly traveled the world, presenting at and participating in conferences, also visiting their many friends, family members, former students, and colleagues.
In 1997 Lisa was recognized for Pioneering Research in Connective Tissue by the Collagen Gordon Conference.
Lisa was curious and hard working, and loved the challenges of science. But she was equally inspired by long walks in the Santa Monica Mountains with her beloved Irish Setter, Shanna, evenings at the symphony, roses from her garden, camping the National Parks, and skiing Alpine peaks. She had an incredible knack for nurturing enduring relationships with friends, former staff, and loved ones. And her waffles were made with pure love (and extra crispy edges).
Lisa is survived by her husband John, to whom she was married for nearly 60 years, her sister Erica (Ricci), and her brother Ted. Her example and enduring love will continue to shape and inspire the lives of her children, Steven and Daniel, her grandchildren, Erin, Nathan and Leah, and her great-grandson, Rowan, as well as her daughters-in-law, Donna and Jenny, and her nieces, nephews and cousins.
A celebration of Lisa’s life will be held in January with details to be announced. Please use the form below to let us know if you’d like to be kept in the loop.
Those who wish to do so may make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association in Lisa’s name.