May the memory of Elke's cooking tickle our taste buds, and the warmth of her smile live within our hearts forever!
  • 67 years old
  • Born on August 24, 1943 in Germany.
  • Passed away on March 8, 2011 in Santa Cruz, California, United States.

I wish you were here today so we could have a huge celebration!!! We would try to cook for you but I know you would want to do it yourself.  At least the cake.  I'm picturing the one you made for Opa on his 70th with the martzipan rose that you spend hours creating.  You were so proud of it and he was beaming with joy that you did that for him.  I'll go pick up some Irises today and light a candle for you.  I still think about you several times a day.  Sometimes dozens.  I'm so sorry I took you for granted.  I wish I knew then what I know now.  It's strange, I feel like I'm getting to know you better now that you are gone.  I'm actually appreciating and understanding things that used to upset or confuse me.  Thank you for that gift.  It is teaching me how to better appreciate the people I love.
I'll give the boys a kiss for you.  I love you so much.  Forever and ever!!!

Hi Mom.  It has been two years since you passed away.  Wow.  Two years.  It seems like yesterday and also forever ago.  Although this was the worst day of my life, I don't want to remember it that way.  I know you wouldn't want me to be sad today--or any day for that matter.  So instead, I am going to use the date of March 8th to remember all of the beautiful, amazing family and friends who surrounded me with love and comfort.  People brought me flowers, dinners and thoughtful cards.  I received phone calls from my friends and yours that I hadn't heard from in over 20 years!  People you worked with 30 years ago called to let me know they still thought of you and remembered your kind heart and warm hugs.  Everyone shared such wonderful memories of you.  Even the principal of the boys' school showed up on my doorstep with a meal he cooked for our whole family.  My world was ripped apart that day, but it was instantly filled with grace and love.  I have to hold on to and remember these moments.  If I think about what I lost, it's unbearable.  If I reflect on all of the amazing people in my life who showed up when I needed it most, I can get through days like today.  
I love you so much and I think about you every day.  


It is now November and the holidays are upon us.  It was so difficult last year to sit at the Thanksgiving table without you.  It didn't even seem like it was Thanksgiving, but just some weird Thursday that no longer made any sense.  I had your last jar of Cranberry sauce that had been sitting in my fridge for this special night.  I couldn't even bring myself to try it.  I knew it was the last one and if I had some, I would solidify that.  I just stared at the bowl.  I wondered what you were doing when you were cooking it and what songs were playing in the background.  I wondered what other dishes lined the counters in your kitchen as you hummed along to your music and cooked for hours with love in every stir, whip, and addition.  So, what do I do now.  I try to make your sauces, and cookies but they simply don't compare.  They're good enough, after all, you DID teach me a few things, but they lack that spirit that went along with it.  Your giddy smile as you handed us your wonderful creations - eager to know what we thought.  Your attention to what each of us wanted in our persimmon cookies - some with nuts, some with raisins, and some with both (or for my boys...neither!).  You cared about everyone and everything.  It wasn't just food you handed us, but an offering of your soul.  Every bite told us who you were, what mattered to you and how much you loved.  
I will get through these next couple of months because of those memories.  We'll make some of your recipees and remember you.  And luckily, I saved one last bit of your cranberry sauce in my freezer.  And if I'm brave enough, I may have it with my meal one last time.
I love you always and forever.


Happy Birthday Mama!

Today you would be 69.  I wish I could make you dinner tonight.  Instead, dad is coming over and we will all have a toast to you.
 I made Baklava.  Not EVEN as good as yours ;-)  

I've been thinking a lot about your life, and how it started.  You really had it rough from the very beginning.  I'm now finally starting to realize and understand your true strength and how you persevered - even triumphed!  I wish I could have told you how much I admired you.  I'm only now becoming aware as I'm able to reflect on who you really were as a person, and not just my mom.  The only comfort I get in your passing is knowing that you are finally at ease.  The rest and peace you so deserved.  Thank you for being my mom.  You were always there for me, no matter what.  Unconditional.  I've heard that word a million times but you taught me what it really means.
 I miss you so much!!!!

Forever your grateful daughter, Drea. 

One Year...

I cannot believe it has been one year.  I think about you many times, each and every day.  I feel like you are always with me though.  The other night I wore your earrings.  Yesterday I cooked from a pan of yours.  This morning I made a smoothie in your cherished Vitamix blender.  Also, every night outside my bedroom window, a frog croaks for a few minutes.  I like to think it's you wishing me sweet dreams or "schlaf gut" as you used to always say.  (By the way, Sonja and I can't figure out why you loved frogs so much!  Why did you???).  I bought some Irises today- your favorites- and put them all around the house.  I guess these little things help me feel like you are still here.  It helps a little. 
But still, l would do anything for a hug.
I love you forever.....



Elke Landis passed away due to an embolism on March 8, 2011, in her

home in Santa Cruz. Born Elke Niklausen in Stuttgart, Germany, on

August 24, 1943, she came to San Francisco in her early twenties after

an ambitious journey around the world with two girlfriends. She married

Kit Landis in 1971 and moved first to Ben Lomond, where her two

daughters, Andrea and Sonja, were born, and later moved to Santa


A skilled homemaker and hard-working single mother, Elke held many jobs over the years to support her family. She was office manager for the Santa Cruz Veterinary Hospital and bookkeeper for many businesses, including most recently Fitz Fresh in Watsonville. Cooking was her greatest passion, and her mastery of classic French cuisine earned her a position as head chef at the Shadowbrook restaurant in the early 1980s. In 1989, she opened Elke’s Express Cuisine, offering gourmet lunches and dinners to go.

A true nurturer, Elke loved animals and surrounded herself with dogs, cats and, once, even a land otter. She grew her own vegetables, herbs and flowers and filled her home with a multitude of plants as well as a collection of anything to do with frogs. Above all, she nurtured her children and grandchildren with generosity and affection and loved nothing more than gathering friends and family to share her wonderful food and hospitality, elevating even the smallest occasion into a celebration.

A woman with a big heart, Elke loved unconditionally and never hesitated to help or listen to others, always putting their needs above her own. She is survived by daughters Andrea Hultzen and Sonja Landis, grandsons Tre and Jace Hultzen, and several nieces and nephews in Germany.

If the measure of a person’s life is indeed how he or she leaves others feeling, Elke lived a life on the highest plane. Her kindness and unselfish goodness will be missed by all whose lives she touched. A celebration of Elke’s life will be held on Sunday, March 20th, at the Elks Lodge from 2-4pm

Posted by Andrea Hultzen on August 24, 2019
Happy birthday Mom! I hope it’s beautiful over there!!!
Posted by Sonja Landis on May 13, 2019
Happy Mothers Day Mommy.
Posted by Janice Spencer on March 8, 2019
My family always remembers Elke. We miss her positive attitude. When you were down, she would try her hardest to bring you up. She was sophisticated. She was a culinary artist. Elke is that one in a million person in your life who was priceless. Heaven is lucky to have her....
Posted by Diane Woodruff on August 25, 2018
Dear Elke, I miss you but your wonderful spirit lives on in your beautiful daughter, Andrea. She has your incredible giving spirit. You were a wonderful mother. Love, Diane Woodruff
Posted by Sandy Garretty on August 25, 2018
I look across the street many times and I always think of you. It will always be Elke's home. Miss you my dear friend
Posted by Anna Bibighaus on August 24, 2018
Missing you Elke, I still feel you're close. We love you.
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on August 24, 2018
Happy birthday mom!!! I love you forever !!!!
Posted by WARREN PENNIMAN on August 24, 2018
Still miss Elke
Posted by Diane Woodruff on March 9, 2018
Elke was on my mind all day. We will all never forget your loving presence in our lives. We miss you so much and will love your forever. Love, Diane
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on March 8, 2018
Mom...Seven years...

I took a hike today on a trail I've been on hundreds of times over the last twenty years. I was of course thinking of you when a frog started croaking so loudly it stopped me in my tracks! She/you definitely wanted me to know you were there with me. I yelled "hello" to you. You croaked a few more times, and then there was silence. In all of those years, on all of those hundreds of hikes, I never once heard a frog croaking. Thank you for letting me know you are always with me. (Again, still so strange to me why you were fascinated with frogs!!!)
I love you forever.
Posted by WARREN PENNIMAN on August 24, 2017
Beautiful Elke, think of you often...
Warren Penniman
Posted by Janice Spencer on March 8, 2017
To Elke and her family, I always think of Elke. I cannot believe it has now been 6 years! Elke was such a part of our family! I remember so well when Matt got accepted at Cal Poly and Elke was at the house and we celebrated! Elke was there with the Apple computer and Matt would wait patiently for her to leave so that he could use it. Elke watched Matt grow up. It was too soon to lose Elke. She will always be one of the most irreplaceable people in my life. She has such a special place in my heart.
Posted by Diane Woodruff on March 8, 2017
Dear Andrea, Thinking of your mother makes me remember how quickly life happens. Our loved ones are with us our whole lives and then they are gone. Elke was such a warm, generous, loving person. She loved you and her family and made those of us who knew her feel very special. As a fellow "foodie" I really appreciated all the special treats she made for us when we saw her. Her memory is vivid and I miss her dearly. Take care dear Andrea. Your mom wants you to be happy and loving life and wishes you every good thing. I love you. Diane
Posted by Janice Spencer on August 24, 2015
Elke has the same birthday as my second grandchild Gavin! I will never forget Elke's birthday. We all loved and miss Elke. I can hear her wonderful voice right now. There are some very exceptional friends in your lifetime that you will hold close in your memory and heart forever. I still have stories I would love to tell her.
Posted by Diane Woodruff on August 24, 2015
Dear Elke, I miss you so much and am trying to be that older loving presence for your dear Andrea. Of course nobody could ever take your place. We all miss you so much. Love. Diane
Posted by Diane Woodruff on March 10, 2015
Dear Andrea, I miss your sweet mother so much. She was so good to me and our entire family. She epitomized warmth, welcome, giving and love. You have these same qualities and I love you so much. Love, Aunt Diane
Posted by Janice Spencer on March 9, 2015
To Sonja and Andrea, I was on Facebook and found my memorial to Elke with all my children's comments just today. It is four years to the day that we commented on Facebook about Elke. We all loved Elke. She was so special to all of us. She will never be forgotten. Elke was unique, loving and wonderful. May your memories of your delightful mother bring you peace. Love from the Spencer family
Posted by Sonja Landis on September 25, 2014
Mom, I miss how I used to feel when you were alive. It's not the same anymore. Every day life is so different without you. I told you not to die
Posted by Diane Woodruff on August 24, 2014
Dear Andrea, Your mother has asked me to tell you what a wonderful daughter you have been and are to her. You were a constant joy in her life and she loved having you as a daughter. She does know how much you love and miss her. She asked me to tell you to enjoy each day and be happy because life is all too short. She wants you to remember the happy times you had together and she wants you to know that she loves you and misses you very much too. Love, Aunt Diane
Posted by Maia Madden on March 8, 2014
Elke was so kind, and such a loving person. And such a caring mother. She will always be missed by those who knew her, especially her daughters, who were the center of her life. She knew what unconditional love is all about. Smile at someone today to remember her, the way she smiled at everyone she met.
Posted by Erika Spencer on August 25, 2013
Happy Birthday Elke! I can still see your wonderful smile and hear your great laugh! My nephew Gavin now shares your birthday. I was talking with my Mom about you today as we were celebrating his birthday. It brought a smile to my face thinking of you today. xo
Posted by Maia Madden on August 24, 2013
This would have been a memorable birthday for an unforgettable person. Let us celebrate her life!
Posted by Maia Madden on March 8, 2013
"Elke, I feel your spirit in Andrea so strongly. I know you are still all around your family, your love filling their hearts with compassion and kindness, forgiveness and generosity."
Posted by Erika Spencer on March 8, 2013
Just the other day I was driving and thought I saw Elke's Lexus. In fact I had to do a double take as I really thought it was her driving next to me. It was so surreal as if it really was still her. I guess it was a reminder that she is missed and even though she is no longer here, she is still with us in some way. Sending love to you, Elke and to those that love and miss you.
Posted by Doris Weyer on March 8, 2013
Elke, you left much too soon...
I was in Camel last November and would have stopped by to see you..
it was always great to be with you..
You were always thinking about the others, not enough about yourself..
I Love you and miss you...
Posted by Sonja Landis on November 22, 2012
Mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy Momy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mama mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy I mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy momma mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy mommy my mommy mine
Posted by Sonja Landis on November 22, 2012
My mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy MY MOMMY! MY MOMMY!!! My mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy my mommy She is MY MOMMY my mommy my. Mommy my mommy my mommy
Posted by Janice Spencer on November 7, 2012
To Andrea and Sonja, not a week goes by that I do not think of Elke. She was always there for me with her optimistic outlook when I was down. We would talk for hours on the phone, almost every week. I miss her sooo much! Elke was a very special person. There are those irreplaceable people in your life who you can never replace, charming, special, understanding, and unique!
Posted by Janice Spencer on November 7, 2012
Elke would come to the office with her mushrooms wanting everyone to try them. Her other proud specialty was her Vietnamese coconut cake. Everyone loved Elke and looked forward to her visit! We would all often go out to eat for lunch as a group. We had so many laughs. I will never forget Elke! She is so missed....
Posted by Sonja Landis on November 6, 2012
This time of year is the worst time November because thanksgiving is coming up. The smell in the air, the temperature outside, the sun and where it sets and falls. It's all the biggest reminder of my mom. Everything seems so much more real. And the reality makes me so sad.
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on November 6, 2012
I just bought persimmons. For as long as I can remember, November and December meant my mom would be picking the persimmons from our tree and making her coveted cookies for the next two months. We all looked forward to our bag of cookies at each gathering. I'm thinking I should make some this year. Maybe I'll even drive by our old house and see if I can pick a few from mom's tree...
Posted by Anna Bibighaus on November 6, 2012
Dre, you describe your mom so well. I can see her smile as she presents her food to us. She knew that she brought smiles and good feelings with all her delicious treats and foods. This is the time for persimmon many batches did she make...she seemed to have enough for everyone. We love you Elke, Andrea and Sonja.
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on August 24, 2012
Happy Birthday Sweet Mama! I love you so much. Forever and ever!!!! I'll be looking for the signs that you love to send me!
Posted by Diane Woodruff on August 24, 2012
Dear Elke, I am crying as I write this after reading the many tributes to you and remembering what a wonderful person you were. You epitomize the gracious, generous hostess...always including everyone and making your wonderful food as a symbol of your love for all of us. II admire you so much and wish I could cook you a wonderful meal and talk to tell you I love you. Diane and Tom
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on August 18, 2012
Hi Mom. The other night, on our cruise ship, I was feeling sad and thinking about you. I stood out on the balcony and listened to the ocean, hoping I would hear your voice. I asked for you to send me a sign. I went to dinner and returned to my room. The room attendants had been making animals out of towels each night on our bed. This night, there was a frog. Thank you.....
Posted by Sonja Landis on April 15, 2012
Mommy!!! It's my Birthday
GOD!!!!!!! Why???!!!!!! My Mommy
Posted by Maia Madden on March 8, 2012
Dear Elke: You were such a loving mom, and Sonja and Andrea will miss you forever. And you were a great person and friend. We will all miss you forever.
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on March 8, 2012
One Year...
I cannot believe it has been one year. I think about you many times, each and every day. I feel like you are always with me though. The other night I wore your earrings. Yesterday I cooked from a pan of yours. This morning I made a smoothie in your cherished Vitamix blender. Also, every night outside my bedroom window, a frog croaks for a few minutes. I like to think it's you w
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on March 8, 2012
FOREVER is a difficult concept to grasp.
Posted by Sonja Landis on March 8, 2012
I miss you so much . One year ago today was the worst day of my life.
You were such a good Mom. I feel like you loved me more than any Mom has ever loved there child. No one is ever going to love me as much as you did. I really miss that feeling. You were my best friend. Im glad you kne
Posted by Anna Bibighaus on March 8, 2012
Elke - You are with me always. Such a special and thoughtful person. It's hard to not feel sadness today. I am so grateful and lucky to have known you for 30 years and sad I can't tell you this but hope you know.
Love, Anna
Posted by Sonja Landis on November 23, 2011
I need to talk to you but i cant find you
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on November 23, 2011
Hi Mom. I took out the cranberry sauce that you made last year from the freezer. Tomorrow when we have it with our meal, it will be the last time I ever taste your food. I have never had a Thanksgiving without you. It's just not the same. I wish you were here...
Posted by Claudia Christoph on August 25, 2011
My dear sister, I thought of you on your birthday and I am surprised to see more pictures from you. Well done Andrea, your mom can be proud of her family, keeping up all memories. You are so far away, but very near to my heart! Love Claudia
Posted by Diane Woodruff on August 24, 2011
I miss dear Elke so much. she left us too early. Your wonderful daughter, Andrea, is carrying on your wonderful tradition of keeping the family together with wonderful family parties where we can stay together. You are with us in spirit. We love and miss you. Diane and Tom
Posted by Robin Panzarella on August 24, 2011
Dear Elke--

What I wouldn't give to spend this day with you. Happy Birthday dear one. I think about you so often and send much love to Andrea and Sonja.
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on August 24, 2011
Hi Mom! The boys are watching "America's Got Talent" each week now. You introduced them to it last year and they still love it. I remember watching it with you at your house and how much you enjoyed it. Seeing you laugh was great!
Posted by Claudia Christoph on March 28, 2011
To know Elke, to be a part of her life makes us feel very happy. She was a wonderful person and we have many happy memories. The wolrd has lost a beautiful soul who is dearly missed. We think of you, Frank and my family from Germany.
Posted by Carla Carstens on March 21, 2011
Sweet Sonja & were the light in your mom's world. Unconditional love. Her teachings came from her heart. I am so grateful to have known her, and I feel your loss. I hug you both from my heart as well.
Posted by Rosemarie Fauth on March 21, 2011
More than 40 yrs of friendship! With Doris travelling around the world, letters, phonecalls, visits: we always kept in touch. Thank you for your deep friendship and love - we already miss you so much. Auf Wiedersehen Elke !!! Rosemarie and Peter

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