Elaine Haines

Elaine Haines

Elaine Haines, 81, died Aug. 14, 2023, in Ithaca, N.Y. Born July 2, 1942, in Landour, India, she grew up in India, attending Woodstock School in Mussoorie through grade 12, and then graduated from Goshen College with a nursing degree.

She loved caring for others and gave her life to service, working alongside her husband, Joe, in Israel-Palestine at the Hope School in Beit Jala and at the Nazareth Hospital. They served  in the Middle East with Mennonite Central Committee and a predecessor agency of Mennonite Mission Network from 1965 to 1985. Subsequently, Joe served as pastor at Alpha (New Jersey), Ambler and Zion (Pennsylvania) Mennonite churches, and Elaine served as copastor with him at Harris Hill (New York). She later worked to create new care guidelines for residents in nursing homes in eastern Pennsylvania. 

Above all, she devoted herself to her family: her husband of 59 years and their children Kris (Gill), Kim (John) and Matt (Sari). She enjoyed being “Mom” to Mohamed and Tahani.

Her countless meals of curry, maqlubbi and mjeddara will always be remembered, along with her countless handwritten cards and love of butterflies. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren were a source of much joy.

She was a lover of wit and humor, spinning wonderful stories of her life with a combination of Hindi and Arabic and Pennsylvania Dutch. Toward the end of her life, as she struggled with dementia, one of her favorite sayings was the Hindi word for “what to do” (kya kare), and she recited that whenever she was at a loss for what was happening and who the people around her were.

Elaine and Joe loved music and for many years had season tickets to the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic and a variety of chamber music series. She was known to sigh, place her hand on her heart, and close her eyes when she heard a particularly moving piece of music. Her fiery spirit lives on in the homes she created, the lives she touched and the stories she told.

Elaine is survived by her husband, three children, seven grandchildren, three great-grandchildren and siblings Eleanor and James.

Contributions may be given to Hospicare Ithaca or Mennonite Central Committee.

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