Lisa Maloff: Angel of Tahoe
On the morning of Thursday, July 28, 2022, Lisa Maloff peacefully passed away at home with loved ones by her side and holding her hands. Known as “The Angel of Tahoe” news quickly spread through town and the city of South Lake Tahoe lowered flags to half-mast in her honor and bouquets of pink carnations appeared throughout town in her memory.
Lisa Elsa Bauer was born on February 9, 1929, the middle of three daughters born to modest farmers Ludwig and Lidia Bauer in Podeize, Poland. They relocated to a farm in Ukraine. Lisa recalled that they were a close knit family, they had a piano, a milk cow, a doll she loved and their home had a dirt floor which her mother swept clean. Lisa lost all her family members during the atrocities of World War II except for her two sisters. Ukraine was hit the hardest during the war and Lisa was taken to a concentration camp at the age of 12 with her mother, Lidia. She spent two years in interment before her friend Sasha negotiated her release. Lisa’s mother and Lisa’s best friend in the camp passed away from malnutrition.
Lisa was 17 when she and her younger sister, Slava, were able to immigrate to the United States in 1946 due to the kindness of an unknown group of ladies in the U.S. who sponsored orphans from the war. Her older sister Tania and daughter Chalda soon followed. Shortly after her arrival she briefly attended high school in San Francisco and met her future husband Robert Merrill Maloff. They settled in Los Angeles and Lisa attended UCLA and studied apparel design. She was proud to become a U.S. citizen.
In 1960, the family moved to South Lake Tahoe and Reno area where all the sisters settled and began the recreation of their lives. Although she often traveled the world throughout her lifetime, Lisa loved the Lake. For many years she had a position with Harrah’s Wardrobe department, where she worked with many major celebrities of that time.
Robert and Lisa owned and operated motels in South Lake Tahoe, California and Reno, Nevada.
Lisa was a founding member of several institutions in the SLT area, including bridge and golf clubs and The Barton Hospital Auxiliary. She was well known for hosting dazzling parties; her biggest blowouts were her 50th and 60th anniversary celebrations with Robert. She loved hosting themed dinner parties which she organized in great detail, cooked the food herself, and made notes to be sure she never served the same menu twice. She loved to golf, water ski, play bridge, and play the accordion.
She was ever-generous with her time and talents for those in need. She was devoted to her family. Nothing was more important to her than holidays with the clan. She also had a love of animals, and almost always had a dog or two in tow wherever she went. She loved the color hot pink, and her favorite flowers were pink carnations. Lisa was elegant, smart, and talented.
In her later years, after the passing of her husband, she became great friends with Ricky Reich and he became her companion and caretaker for 11 years. She shared long-lasting and wonderful friendships for many years with
Patti Olsen, and Roberta Mason who founded Lake Tahoe Community College.
Lisa’s philanthropic generosity made a big impact to her beloved town with well over $40 million donated. She was often overheard saying, “I feel very fortunate. My husband and I were very well off and I want to share it. I don’t want to be buried with a check, so I am giving away as much as I can.” Lisa sprinkled her immense generosity throughout town with notable donations to Barton Memorial Hospital, Lake Tahoe Community College, the Boys and Girls Club, George Whittell High School, the fire stations, the police stations, women’s & youth centers, wildlife and animal care, and youth sports programs.
Through her generous donations to the community she became known as “The Angel of Tahoe.” She was proud to earn the first “Lady of the Lake” award in 2019. And she felt she really left her mark when the City of South Lake Tahoe.
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