Copeland Funeral Service

Ask a family we have served… ™



BEAUFORT – Elisabeth Lepionka-Balmer, of Beaufort, South Carolina, and of Braunwald, Canton Glarus, Switzerland, died on Saturday, September 14, 2014, in the company of her husband Larry, her son Franz, and her daughter, Alexandra.

She was born on October 4, 1947, in Bern, Switzerland, the eldest of six children whose father and mother tragically died at an early age.  Friends of the family kept the children together, such that they have always been a close and warm family.  She completed her early education at the Kantonale Haushaltungslehrerinschule des Kantons Bern, and taught home economics in Switzerland before her immigration to Canada in 1970.  After a year’s work at Montreal General Hospital, she moved west to Vancouver, where she met Larry Lepionka in 1971 and completed two years of schooling at Vancouver City College.

She and Larry traveled across the continent in 1973 to Boston, Massachusetts, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in anthropology at Boston University.  One of her professors pronounced her to be the best undergraduate student it had ever been his honor to teach.

In 1973 she and Larry were married, and moved to Switzerland to continue her teaching career at, among other institutions, the Kantonale Landwirtschaftschule des Kantons Solothurn, where she instructed young women in the arts and skills of farming.  Their son Franz was born in Bern in 1976. They returned to the United States in 1977 and took up residence in Beaufort, where her daughter Alexandra was born in 1979.

She became an instructor in the Beaufort County school system and obtained a master’s degree in Library Science (University of South Carolina, Columbia), ultimately taking up a position as Librarian at Broad River Elementary School.

She is survived by her brother Ueli (Wileroltigen CH), her sister Annemarie (Patalour CH), her sister Agathe (Bern CH), her brother Dieter (Burgdorf CH), her sister Heidi (Brugg CH), and numerous nieces and nephews.  Also, by Larry’s elder daughter Lara (Gloucester, Massachusetts), her husband Stevens and mother Mary Ellen. Lisa maintained a warm and loving relationship with them and acted as a true grandmother to Lara and Stevens’ daughters, Willa and Beatrix. She is also survived by her husband Larry and his stepmother May Lepionka (of Beaufort); her son Franz, his wife Jen, and their daughter Helen (all of Cambridge, Massachusetts); and her daughter Alexandra, her son-in-law Felix and their unborn child, due in February (all of Zurich, Switzerland).

Wherever she went and whatever she did, for even the briefest period, Lisa (our Elisabeth) attracted the warmth and love of all she met.  We have, in these past weeks, fully experienced that great tide of human affection that followed wherever she went.  We are deeply and eternally grateful for all those friends who have loved Lisa so deeply and stood so strongly by us.  We, her family, knew so well the beauty and wonder of this most gracious of women, but to have that great tide of love returned to us is more than is possible to speak of.  We humbly thank all of our dear friends for all that they have done and will do.

And not least, I, Franz, and Alexandra, on behalf of Lisa, wish to thank the doctors and nurses of Beaufort Memorial Hospital for being with us—so competently, and so humanely, as our Lisa departed.

A memorial service will be held at the First Presbyterian Church of Beaufort at 4:30 o’clock on Friday afternoon, September 19, 2014, with a reception following at the Logan residence at 66 Godley Road, St. Helena Island (first right turn from Highway 21 after the Chowan Creek bridge, then right on Godley Road.)  Everyone who has ever known Lisa is invited to share in our farewell.

In lieu of flowers we request that those who so wish make a contribution in the name of Elisabeth Lepionka to the Friends of the Library – 311 Scott Street, Beaufort, South Carolina.

Online Condolences