Elise England, 86, of Lenox, pioneering entrepreneur

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By Friday, Oct 13 Obituaries

Elise V. England, 86, of Lenox, died Thursday morning, Oct 12.

She was born May 9, 1931, in New York City to the late Carl and Anne Van Dam. After high school, Mrs. England attended Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland, where she obtained her bachelor’s degree.

Prior to meeting her husband, Moe, Elise, a dynamic businesswoman, worked in the advertising specialty field. She was able to manage her business out of her home in White Plains, New York, while she raised her children. Her clients were large national and international corporate accounts.

Elise and her husband, Moe, were married July 15, 1977, in Scarsdale, New York, and settled into their home on October Mountain in Lenox. From the top of October Mountain for over 20 years, Elise and Moe were early pioneers of today’s craft beer movement. They started Merchant du Vin East in 1981, a beer-importing company representing some of the most iconic breweries in the world. As president and chief executive, Elise was instrumental in building a distribution system for 23 states. Her passion and commitment to beer education was renowned. Elise conducted beer dinners and seminars throughout the East Coast to introduce different brewing styles to the United States. She received national recognition by being honored for her contributions for the development of the Belgian beer market in the United States (such as Lindeman’s Framboise and Peche) and introducing the U.S. to British beers from Samuel Smith and the Old Brewery (oatmeal stout, IPA, etc.). Elise was one of the first high-level female executives in the beer industry.

Elise wasn’t an all-work-no-play woman. Moe and Elise were avid travelers and visited exotic places all over the world. As astute as she was in her home office, she was even more passionate on the tennis court and golf course. In her younger years, Mrs. England loved to ride horses and was a competitive swimmer. She was a natural athlete who enjoyed the social, mental and physical aspects of all sports.

Elise volunteered at Berkshire Medical Center and was a member of Anshe Amunim Temple in Pittsfield. A lover of culture and the arts, Elise was a member of Tanglewood, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Jacob’s Pillow, Norman Rockwell Museum and the Clark. She also contributed to UMass Medical School.

In addition to her husband of Lenox, Elise is survived by her children: Susan Stephens (George) of Vestal, New York and Wendy Bachrach of New York City and stepdaughter Elizabeth England (Tony Scott) of New York City; five grandchildren: David Shaw (Katie), Lauren Fortin (Andrew), Daniel Shaw (Nicole), Olivia and Cameron Scott; five great-grand children; and her brother Henri Van Dam of Stamford, Connecticut.

A private memorial service will be held at a later time at the convenience of the family. In lieu of flowers, donations in Elise’s memory may be made to either the Elise and Moe England Religious School Scholarship Fund (Temple Anshe Amunim, 26 Broad St., Pittsfield, MA 01201) or a charity of one’s choice, both in care of the Roche Funeral Home, 120 Main St., Lenox, MA 01240.

The family would like to thank the staff of the LEP unit at Kimball Farms, the nursing staff at Hillcrest Commons and to HospiceCare in the Berkshires for the care that was given to Elise toward at the end of her life.

To share memories and stories, visit www.rochefuneralhome.com.

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