Elyse, looking gorgeous at 18
Elyse Smith
  • 84 years old
  • Date of birth: Dec 11, 1930
  • Place of birth:
    El Monte, California, United States
  • Date of passing: Apr 15, 2015
  • Place of passing:
    Hemet, California, United States
The memory of Elyse will be with us forever


This memorial website was created in memory of our loved one (sister, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, aunt, friend) Elyse Smith, 84, who was born December 11, 1930 and passed away (at home, cared for by loved ones, and with a smile on her face!) April 15, 2015. 

Elyse will be most remembered for her ever-present smile and infectious laugh. Friend and mentor to many, she was at various times counselor, conspirator, cohort, comforter, caregiver, comedian, card-shark, and always someone who had the ability to light up any room. She had a powerful belief in God and in the healing power of the mind and became a practitioner for her church after many years of studies. She had an innate ability to provide comfort when needed, and laughter in the most difficult of situations. She was also a prankster and was fond of keeping the most unsuspecting of us guessing! 

Born to James Edison and Velma Orr, Elyse was raised in a large family of 8 brothers and sisters.  She had the distinction of being the baby of the family, and since her two closest siblings were brothers (Vern and Ralph, whom she adored), she could keep up with the boys rather well and became quite the sportswoman -- adept at wrestling, running, climbing and ball sports. She was also a true beauty with a smile that could captivate even at an early age.  Growing up, she was especially close to her grandmother Mary Williams, who would talk and sing to her in Welsh and to whom we have to thank for the Welsh lullaby to which many of Elyse's children and grandchildren were rocked to sleep.

Elyse had a passion for music throughout her childhood, and could be found singing and dancing at every opportunity -- although her strict Nazarene upbringing made that (as well as wearing her trademark lipstick!) somewhat of a challenge.  In her late teens, she was asked to join a well-known Baptist church choir and her brother Vern drove her into Los Angeles so that she could participate. She attributed that experience to developing her style and in giving her the tools necessary to pursue later opportunities.  Her favorite styles of music were gospel and then later Big Band. In her early 20s, she had the opportunity to sing with Big Band giants, such as Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey, Harry James and Ralph Flanagan.  After an unfortunate altercation with a well-known artist (he informed her she would accompany him on tour as his singer...and his "girl"...she refused), she was forced to give up her aspirations of a professional singing career.  The love of music followed her throughout her life though and brought her much joy.  She also had a true love of animals -- some of her beloved pets throughout the years were Myrtle, Sherry, Meika, Lady, Claudia, Cassandra, Morris the cat, Rudy, Sammy and Daisy. It was a long-held desire to open a dog rescue and she was often the recipient of abandoned dogs and cats.

Elyse was preceded in death by her brothers Gilbert Orr and Clyde Orr; her sisters Clara Scheiber and Eileen Murphy; and her son, Mark Santar (1949-2011), his death being one of the greatest sorrows of her life.  She is survived by her brothers Ralph Orr (wife ReRe) and Vern Orr (wife Margaret); her sister Bernice Northrup; her daughter-in-law Nancy Santar; daughters Carri Smith and Karen Carmichael (husband Ian); grandchildren Pete Santar (wife Kelly), Tracie Barber (husband Ray), Heather Hudec (husband Andrew), Kylie Pittsinger and Cole Carmichael; great-grandchildren Mark Santar, Taylor Santar, Leo Barber, Vance Barber, Ryder Barber and Waylon Barber. 
Her family and friends will remember and love her always. 


Memorial Tributes
This tribute was added by Donna Weber on 12th December 2015

"Remembering your special birthday, Aunt Elyse.  How I miss those special phone calls - on birthdays and times when she was just thinking of me or I was thinking of her.  Her laughter and her caring brought much joy to me & to others.  Aunt Elyse will always be in my heart!"

This tribute was added by Pam Ports on 11th December 2015

""Mommy" Elyse, you have always been my second mom. I miss you more than ever. You were there for me as I grew up, and through all my trials and joys. Your bright smile could always make me feel loved and special, and your laughter could brighten any room and warm any heart. When Carri and then Karen were born, I took care of them like they were my own. Thanks to your kind and loving instruction, I knew how to take care of my babies when they were born! (Not to mention how to clean house!) I'll never forget all those times you and my mom, Bernie Barlow, would get together and sing Keely Smith big band songs and so many others. We didn't appreciate it as much then as we did in later years! We had so many fun times with our families together, vacationing, and holidays, and most weekends, but what I miss most is talking to you and seeing that warm, enveloping smile. Until I see you again, Love and hugs. ❤️❤️❤️"

This tribute was added by Carri Smith on 11th December 2015

"Happy birthday mama...there just aren't enough words to express how deeply I love you nor how desperately I miss you.  Forever."

This tribute was added by Scott Orr on 31st July 2015

"I will never forget any of my encounters with Aunt Elyse.  She had an infectious laugh, an incredible sparkle in those beautiful eyes, and she could hold her own with her obnoxious relatives like me!  She will be missed, but I am sure her and Grandpa Clyde are having some laughs.  Love to all of her family."

This tribute was added by Peggy Hart on 21st May 2015

"I was so fortunate to see Elyse recently and to give her a final hug and tell her how much I enjoyed being her friend and how much I would miss her. She was one fabulous lady."

This tribute was added by Donna Weber on 4th May 2015

"Aunt Elyse was a very bright light in my life & in the lives of many.  I loved being around her as she brought much joy into every situation.  She had a beautiful smile, contagious laugh, & a heart of gold. She leaves us with many special memories. I'm so glad I was a recipient of her generous love! Thank you Aunt Elyse for the beautiful role model you were!  Love you!!"

This tribute was added by STEPHANIE LAWSON on 1st May 2015

"Sorry for your loss girls. Loved your mom. She will be missed."

This tribute was added by Heather Hudec on 1st May 2015

"I love and miss you so incredibly much, Gammy. I'm so thankful for time I had with you, and all of the happy memories we shared. Thank you for your never ending love and support."

This tribute was added by Carri Smith on 30th April 2015

"Thank you for the life lessons, the love of music, and for raising me to know what spirituality is (as opposed to religion), to keep an open mind, and to live in absolute faith.  I love you, mama, beyond words...I miss you more than I ever thought possible.  Until I see you again........."

This tribute was added by Karen Carmichael on 30th April 2015

"I love you mom.  And i miss you.  Thank you for a lifetime of love."

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This memorial is administered by:

Karen Carmichael


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