Obituary: Elaine Susan Falender – Portland Press Herald
CAPE ELIZABETH – Elaine Susan Falender passed away peacefully at her home in Cape Elizabeth on April 21, 2022, surrounded by her loving family. She was 69 at the time of her death and had been battling metastatic breast cancer for years.
Elaine was born on July 23, 1952 in Indianapolis, Indiana, the daughter of Fredrick and Doris (Newmark) Falender. She had an idyllic childhood in the middle of the 20th century and was still in contact with her closest friends from those early years to the end of her life. Elaine attended Indianapolis public schools. She was a graduate of Colorado College and received her law degree from Georgetown Law School in 1978. Elaine and her husband, Gordon K. Gayer, met at the Law School library and became inseparable thereafter. They married in 1980 at her parents’ home in Indianapolis.
Elaine enjoyed her legal career and her colleagues immensely, practicing law for over 20 years, first at Covington and Burling in Washington, D.C., then at Pierce Atwood in Portland, after moving with her family to Maine in 1985 .
More recently, Elaine has derived great satisfaction from a second career as a strategic planning consultant for non-profit organizations. She has especially enjoyed assisting the Elliotsville Foundation in its environmentally and culturally responsible development of the Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, adjacent to Baxter State Park. She was very grateful to have been exposed to the rich culture and aspirations of the Wabanaki, the first human inhabitants of this region.
Elaine was dedicated to her community and to her faith. She served nine years on the Cape Elizabeth Planning Board, including one term as Chair. Cross-cultural exchange was important to her and she enjoyed serving on the board of the Chinese American Friendship Association of Maine. Most significant of all was his service to Congregation Bet Ha’am, the Reform Jewish synagogue in the Portland area. Elaine has twice been called to serve as president of the congregation, chaired one rabbinical research committee and served on another, and served on numerous other campaigns and committees, as well as teaching d a religious school.
Elaine loved traveling around the world. She studied in Mexico, Argentina, Japan and Italy. Together with her mother, she visited the Soviet Union and in 1978 went to China with one of the first groups of Western tourists to visit that country after it opened to outside visitors. She and Gordon took their children to much of Europe, as well as China, Japan and Australia. Elaine also enjoyed the annual family tradition of canoe camping in the North Woods of Maine. As their children headed off to college, Elaine and Gordon continued canoeing the Allagash Waterway and added annual hikes in the Swiss Alps.
Above all, Elaine loved the family she nurtured for 41 years, who are her legacy and her immediate survivors, her husband, Gordon Gayer; his children Elisabeth, Daniel and Carlin, his stepchildren Ryan, Sarah and Noah; and his grandchildren Grace, Neil, Hope, Micah, Leif, Joy and Lily. She is also survived by her stepmother, Joan Falender of Belvedere, Calif.; and his beloved brother and sister-in-law, Stephen and Debra Falender, of Aspen, Colorado, and their children and grandchildren. She is also survived by the many in-laws she acquired from her husband’s large family, especially enjoying friendship, football and the symphony in recent years with Alan and Sally Gayer of New Castle, NH.
A funeral service for Elaine will be held Friday, April 29 at 11 a.m. at Congregation Bet Ha’am in South Portland, with interment to follow at Riverside Memorial Cemetery in Cape Elizabeth. The service will be broadcast live from Jones, Rich and Barnes Funeral Home, Portland. Please call 207-775-3763 for more information or visit http://www.jonesrichandbarnes.com for more information and to leave a tribute in memory of Elaine.
Elaine’s family would like to thank New England Cancer Specialists for their dedicated and long-term medical treatment of Elaine, and Hospice of Southern Maine for their compassionate and supportive care during her final days.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests that donations in Elaine’s memory be sent to Friends of Katahdin Woods and Waters or Congregation Bet Ha’am.