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Elissa Montgomery McMahon
  • In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made in Lissy's memory to the Leiomyosarcoma Direct Research Foundation, or P.O. Box 52697, Tulsa, OK 74152.

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Memories & Candles

“Leslie ”
1 of 8 | Posted by: Michelson - Brookline, MA

“We are so sorry for your family's loss. Although I had not spent a lot of time personally with Lissy, our children became great friends. The first...Read More »
2 of 8 | Posted by: Victoria/Evan Rowan/Bogan - MA

“I am so saddened to hear about Lissy's passing. Her obituary was so touching and truly captured the 'spark' that I was lucky enough to encounter when...Read More »
3 of 8 | Posted by: Kathleen Fiel - Boston, MA

“Rest in peace. Lissy Love Jane ”
4 of 8 | Posted by: A friend

“Sending love, light and my deepest sympathies to family, Henry Roque and friends ”
5 of 8 | Posted by: Natalie Imbier - Amherst, MA

“So sorry to hear about this tragic loss, praying for comfort and peace for Lissy's friends and family. ”
6 of 8 | Posted by: liane mosher bottone - SC

“Jennifer and Kara:May God bless the McMahon family and your own. We are praying. We are thinking of you. John Paul ”
7 of 8 | Posted by: John Paul SanGiovanni

“I hardly knew you, however there was an overwhelming energy around you. I somehow feel as though I will never quite see my own life the same. Give...Read More »
8 of 8 | Posted by: Debbie Crosby - Woburn, MA

Elissa Montgomery McMahon, known to all as Lissy, 46, died December 4, 2016, at home after a long and courageous fight against a rare form of sarcoma. Lissy was a social worker at Sommerville-Cambridge Elder Services until her diagnosis, and they were among her most gracious and generous supporters during her illness.

Lissy was born and raised in a small town, Mendham, New Jersey, which at the time had one traffic light and lots of fertile farmland and forested hills. On warm summer nights the backyard would fill with lightning bugs, and there would be the happy, thick sound of crickets that Lissy remembered hearing through her bedroom window as she fell asleep. During her illness, she often spoke of how free and happy her childhood was in Mendham, growing up with her two sisters, and how much she appreciated that time in her life.

Lissy attended Mendham's public schools and was an avid athlete, playing soccer and softball most seriously; for a period of some years, she almost always had some kind of ball in her hands or at her feet and was ready to play. She lived outdoors in the fresh air on the run or on her bike and always returned home with a good story.

She attended college at Fordham University in NYC, receiving a B.A. in History in 1993, and made some of her closest, lifelong friends there. In the summertime during those years, she worked as a lifeguard at the Mountain Club in Morris Plains with her dearest childhood friend, Mary, and there met her future husband, Glen Arentowicz. Lissy and Glen married in 1994, and they moved a few years later to Swampscott on the north shore of Massachusetts for Glen's work. She so enjoyed the beauty of that coastal town. Her love of the beach and coastlines, the ocean and the sun was a touchstone her whole life, and she relished vacations and holidays at the beach, especially Fire Island, NY, where she and Jack would spend a few weeks every summer visiting her sister Jenny and her family.

In 1997, Lis took a job at Staples Corporate Headquarters in Framingham, MA, working in communications in their Human Resources Department and moved in 1999 to the lovely town of Needham, MA, where they settled. Their son Jack was born in December 2000, and now 15, attends Needham High School.

After Jack was born, Lis took on her most cherished role, motherhood, and fell into the rhythms of snacks and naps and walks and groceries. Her famous sense of humor found a well-spring of material in the constant large and small challenges of motherhood and later single motherhood, after an amicable divorce in 2006. Glen and his wife Kate were among Lissy's closest friends.

Lis created a happy life for her and Jack while he grew up in Needham, and eventually, after Jack started school, she took real pleasure in working part-time at the downtown Needham Closet Exchange, a charming clothing store steps from her home, which allowed her to still be home to meet Jack after school. The proprietors, Brenda and Bob Stark, were like surrogate parents to Lis during those years, and she made many good friends among the staff. At the Closet Exchange Lis found she was a born stylist (having always had a flare for fashion and a wonderful sense of style) and her genuinely warm personality was so disarming that it always put people at ease. She loved talking to her customers and hearing about their lives and helping to make them feel beautiful or confident in a new outfit or dress.

These were strong strains running through Lissy's life from a young age: her disarming warmth, how much she loved helping people and how she loved hearing a good story. Even more, what was so special about being with her was a native gift of being the storyteller herself, mining material usually out of the regular stuff of life but finding the pathos, seeing the beauty, delighting in the absurd, and at times having a very honed and fabulously bold edge. Her sense of humor had a pluck and fearlessness that kept people waiting and smiling to see what she'd say next; and usually her word would be the last on a send-up because it was the smartest and funniest. At family gatherings, her beloved nieces and nephews, in-laws and most of all her friends knew to gather nearby Lis because where she was, that was where the party was. Her laughter and humor, which ministered to people so directly and revealed a deep wisdom about life and people and the human condition, will be one of the things we will miss about her most dearly and most often.

Lissy felt a pull to return to work full-time when Jack was nearing middle school and completed a Masters in Gerontology at UMass, later taking the job in Cambridge that she had until the autumn of 2014. Lissy's diagnosis came a little over a year after she started at Sommerville-Cambridge Eldercare, cutting short what was both a promising career and a calling. Our hearts do sorely ache for all the milestones in Lissy's life and her career and even more so in Jack's that she'll miss. There are too many to name.

One that must be named is her relationship with Henry Roque. They fell in love the spring before Lissy's cancer was discovered and in that short time, he swept her off her feet and the future seemed rich and exciting. Henry got another kind of future with Lis, but it did not deter him. Henry was with Lissy, right next to her, as she passed, and during the worst of her days these last few months, he whispered comfort to her and helped carry her sweet frame to the very end.

She is survived by her beloved and devoted son, Jack Christopher Arentowicz, whom she loved with the whole fullness of her heart; two sisters with whom she