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 Sandy Garretty on March 21, 2011
Elke tonight would be one of our nights together.. we use to be together to watch Dancing with the Stars.. It was fun  to talk to you about the dancing you loved so. You are so missed Love you Sandy
Posted by Nancy Pascal on March 20, 2011
We are sorry to hear of Elke's passing.We have such fond memories of her especially her wonderful cooking. She fixed antelope stew for us, we bartered mushrooms for black bean enchiladas. She graciously shared her stew recipes with us.We miss her.
Posted by Patrick Fitz on March 20, 2011
Elke, with a smile from the time you came to work in the morning until you left for the day, a kind and thoughtful person, you were always ready to help others. Your cooking in the office was always a treat! Thank you for being you. You are missed.
Posted by Alexander Gentner on March 20, 2011
I am so grateful that we had seen each other last year in October. None of us had thought it would be the last time. Thanks for sharing your most secret recipes with me. I will keep them in honor. I will miss you, not only in skype. Love, your nephew
Posted by Sonja Landis on March 18, 2011
Mommy!!!! I miss you Soooooxoxoxoxxoxox Much. I know you know. My sisters Birthday today!!!
Posted by Sonja Landis on March 18, 2011
I was walking Charlie this morning and stummbled upon the most beautiful single Iris flower in the middle of no where. I suppose you were telling me hi. Thank you, I needed that. I love you MoM xoxoxooxoxoxoxo
Posted by Maia Madden on March 17, 2011
Elke, you were so kind and gracious to me. Thank you for inviting me to your family celebrations with all that great food and love. I will miss our lunches. I loved laughing and sharing our common joys and sorrows, always about family.Love always!
Posted by Sherrel Miller on March 17, 2011
Dearest Elke..It has been a long time. Always on my mind. Shocked I was! My dear friend. I remember the good times. Ben Lomond, The babies, the always vivacious you, the fun times, the crazy times, your food, the caffe, your support.
Posted by Claudia Christoph on March 16, 2011
Elke was more than a stepsister to me. I was suffering when hearing Heide passed away, but now I am feeling really lonely. Thank you for sharing your life with me. I will remember and miss her for lifetime. Love Claudia
Posted by Erika Spencer on March 16, 2011
I am so sad that we have lost Elke - I will always remember her enthusiasm for life & her joy of cooking. We took a tennis class together about 7 years ago & she was just as enthusiastic about tennis as she was about cooking! Miss and love you, Elke.
Posted by Doris Weyer on March 16, 2011
Doris Weyer, We traveled the world together, it was the most wonderful time. She was full of energy and a lot of fun. She was an artist in the cooking department. I love her and will miss her. She will always be in my heart. Good by Elke, I love you
Posted by Linda Hirsch on March 16, 2011
Linda and Robert Hirsch Leticia Villarreal lit a candle on 16th March 2011 Your a wonderful lady. Great time when the girls were young. I will always rememeber your smile and that great hug you gave. Love you
Posted by Diane Woodruff on March 16, 2011
Liebe Elke, Thank you for always making me and my family always feel so welcome every holiday. You and Andrea were the glue that brought the family together every Christmas. You always cooked with such love. I miss my "foodie" pal.Love,Diane Woodruff
Posted by WARREN PENNIMAN on March 15, 2011
Elke, one of the most special and precious persons I have met in my travels through life. Friends since her time in Ben Lomond, I am so thankful for that. Lover of life, daughters, friends.. always a smile.. all that and much more !!
Posted by Diane Robinson on March 15, 2011
Elke was my bookeeper for the last 4 years and my dear friend. We would always end up talking part of the day about what had been going on with both of us.I cant believe she is gone. The world has lost a beautiful soul who is dearly missed.
Posted by Janice Spencer on March 15, 2011
To Elke, always upbeat, you were a joy to be around! You became my bookkeeper and then my very good friend, confidant and great optimist! You could handle Jim and his payroll, for that you can go straight to heaven! You gave such compassionate and straight forward advice and were filled with love for your family and friends, totally unique and irreplaceable! Rest in peace, with love Janice
Posted by Robin Panzarella on March 14, 2011
Elke is one of my oldest friends. We met when my former husband and I rented the smaller cottage on her property in Ben Lomond.

I have so many happy memories that include Elke. She was my only attendant at my wedding to my former husband. She taught me how to cook, she taught me how to mother my kids and she taught me what a friend really is. I will remember her with love for my lifetime.
Posted by Maria Boutell on March 14, 2011
I'm so heartbroken! We had spoken about getting together many times. It saddens me that we won't get that chance. I have nothing but absolutely wonderful and beautiful memories of Elke. She was a bright spirit with so much to give. She LOVED her girls and grandchildren, always sharing lovely stories of motherhood and how proud she was of her family. I will miss her immensely!
Posted by Sandy Garretty on March 14, 2011
Elke was a dear friend of mine. My heart was broken when i got the call of her passing.We lived across the street form one another. She was a real strong loving lady. Who would do any thing for her girls. They were her life. It was nice when she could relax and do a few things for her self later in life..She worked so hard just to make  ends meet.. She was always there for all her friends.
Posted by Holly Pedemonte on March 14, 2011
My Dear Sweet Elke,
I miss you so much, it's hard getting through the days without you in them. You were my best friend, compadre at work, and like my Mom EVERYDAY! I miss being able to call you at any time and talk to you. We have shared so many memories together in our 9 years of friendship, and many secrets too :) You taugh me so much in life, I am a better person having know you. LOVE
Posted by Sandy Garretty on March 14, 2011
Elke.lets watch tv tonight i will bring the fixings for a Lemon Drop.. Missing you a bunch. Love Ya!
Posted by Andrea Hultzen on March 12, 2011 should hear all of the wonderful things people are saying about you. I can only hope you knew how adored you were.  I will always remember, honor, and love you. I miss you so much, dre

Leave a Tribute