From the Mayor’s Office –

From the Mayor’s Office
June 17, 2024

Elizabeth M.L. McLean
December 18, 2023


The following eulogy was read by Mayor Newhard at the June 15, 2024, memorial service for Elizabeth ‘Lillibet’ McLean:

Lillibet, our Lily, touched us in so many ways.  Were we ever not delighted, surprised, entranced, and sometimes caught off guard? She always left us with a smile and a sense that for a moment we had been transported.  How can I describe her? There was of course her wonderful voice, high and resonant – octaves above everyone else’s, which made it distinctly singular. There was her style – let me just say it was fun. Nails done up for any occasion, a vibrant hairband or even a tiara. It wasn’t about matching anything, it was about enjoying. It was about expression and in Lily’s case, exuberance.

Lily loved this Valley; it was truly her home. This was the place where she grew up. It was a place of summers, of family and friends. It was the Ball Farm, parties and celebrations, it was laughter, fireflies, gardens and the deep porch at Wyndhurst. It was a place for her children to grow up and experience as well. For these reasons, Warwick was a place of comfort and beauty that was romantic, compelling and perfect.

Although I knew Lily when I was young, it wasn’t until I returned to Warwick as an adult that our friendship began. It was also the moment that she had decided to make her house on Pinecrest a more permanent home. Maybe, Warwick Valley shook for that moment with anticipation of the return of a daughter.

The decision to make her Warwick home a more permanent residence was not about an address change; it was about community. Lillibet embraced Warwick and her involvement was instantaneous. The Historical Society, the Orange and Dutchess Garden Club, the Rotary, Christ Church, the Food and Hunger Ministry and the Backpack Program all benefited from her engagement, fresh point of view and volunteerism. Lily’s presence was welcome as it brought wisdom, a sense of humor, generosity and often the right touch of kindness.  I think too that Lily found comfort and personal joy through her involvement and connection. During the Villages 150th anniversary celebration we had a year of events. Lily participated in many of the activities, but one of my favorite memories was the Easter Bonnet Parade, and of course Lily was part of it, truly in her element.

Anyone driving behind Lily’s car knew her license plate with the proclamation, ZUT ALORS! Which is a wonderful French expression, translated as “Darn it “or maybe a little stronger. It is that bit of irreverence and humor that we will remember and that we loved.

My friendship with Lillibet grew over the years and our paths crossed often. She was my neighbor; she was a customer at my store, and we had many of the same friends. A year ago, I was invited to speak to the Orange and Dutchess Garden Club. I thought I did a good job describing the many activities in the Village. Suddenly a voice rang out, high and clear reminding me that I had forgotten to tell the club about our designation as a Monarch Village – the first in New York State! I was grateful for the reminder and informed the club that Lily was not only a dear friend, but my muse!

In a small-town neighbors check in on neighbors. I knew that Lily was home and very ill, and the prognosis was not good. I stopped by to give support to Lisa and John who were caring for their mom. Lily was alert and when she heard I was there she wanted to see me. I sat by her bed and held her hand and we spoke; she was almost inaudible due to the recent stroke, but she told us emphatically that she wanted to get out of bed and sit in the chair. The reason was a matter of civility and manners – when the mayor comes to call it should be done properly. She was insistent, and with the help of her aids, John, Lisa and me we were able to get her to the chair. This was all unexpected and it had been the first time she had been out of bed in two weeks. The visit continued and I realized that this was more than a visit, it was a goodbye. Later I understood that what I had witnessed was Lily’s clear view to the end, the way it should be done. Lily is still my muse. She was a light and a treasure to us all.

Our lives, our daily activities are a record of who we are but more importantly who we aspire to be. In Lily’s case it was a life of dedication to family and community, and it was always on her terms which made each moment more memorable and of extraordinary depth.

Thank you, Lily!  We will miss you and we love you. You are with us in all things delightful and bright -in the view that stretches above the orchards, the mowed fields, the morning light, the bird song waking us up from sleep, the redolent fragrance of lindens and lilacs. Rest in peace dear friend.