February 26, 2020

Obituaries 2/26/20

Helen Louise Flower

Helen Flower, age 94, died on February 9, 2020 in Hightstown, New Jersey. She was resident of the memory care unit at Meadow Lakes senior living community. Helen suffered from an unremitting cognitive decline over the past ten years, even as the sparkle remained in her bright green eyes almost until the very end.

Helen was born on June 21, 1925 in Colorado Springs, Colorado, as the younger daughter of Fred Nassour and Sarah Abousleman Nassour. Her mother grew up in Jemez Springs, New Mexico. Throughout her life she was very close to her older sister Ann Marie Rolfes, who predeceased her. When she was very young, her parents moved to Hollywood, California, where her father owned a number of businesses and built a movie studio with the first indoor soundstage. After graduating from High School she attended art school in Los Angeles, and remained an avid drawer and painter her entire life. At various times in her life, she lived in Palm Desert, Yorba Linda, and Santa Rosa (California) and in Prescott and Scottsdale (Arizona). Helen was especially devoted to animals, raising horses in her youth, and then breeding German Shepherds later in life. Her greatest success story in this regard was her horse Twinkle Toes (seen in the photograph above), who was trained as a professional stunt horse and served as John Wayne’s preferred mount in several of his most famous films (Horse Soldiers, True Grit, and many more).

Helen moved from Phoenix, Arizona, to Princeton in 2005 to be closer to her son and daughter-in-law, and her two granddaughters. To her great sadness, her husband John Sebastian Flower died suddenly in Princeton a mere three years later. In her heart she always remained a Westerner, and often spoke of moving back to Southern California. She is survived by her son Michael A. Flower (Harriet), her step-son Steven S. Flower (Cindy), of Rathdrum, Idaho, her two granddaughters Isabel A. Flower and Rosalind A. Flower, both of New York City, and her niece Jody Northcutt (Rob) of Dallas, Texas.

Her funeral mass will be held at St. Charles Borromeo Roman Catholic Church in Skillman, New Jersey. Her ashes, as well as those of her husband John Flower, will be interred in the Flower family mausoleum (built by the latter’s grandfather) in Fairmount Cemetery, Denver, Colorado.


Joseph C. McKee


“And music echoes eternal tones.” —John O’Donohue

Joseph C. McKee, 72, of Monroe Township and Berkeley Heights, NJ, died peacefully on Thursday, February 13, 2020. He had been battling cancer with great valor and hope.

Joe was born on Sunday, March 2, 1947 in McKeesport, PA, the younger son of Mary Jane Challener McKee (music educator) and John Lowden McKee (business executive). Joe lived his early years in Princeton where his musical and acting talents were nurtured and developed in public schools and the Nassau Presbyterian Church. He earned degrees from Princeton High School, Oberlin College Conservatory of Music (BM, MM), and The Juilliard School Opera Theater. He served in the United States Army (1971-1974), US Army Chorus at Fort Myer, VA.

Throughout his life, Joe contributed his acclaimed vocal talents to enthusiastic audiences in opera houses, recital halls, and churches throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Russia, and Kenya. His elementary schoolmates heard his radiant gifts when he sang the soprano solo in “O Holy Night.” They evolved through his spot-on Sinatra impersonations and the corn-pone jug band he led in the home basement. Joe’s art matured ultimately in the many leading bass-baritone roles he performed during his 16-year career at The New York City Opera (Beverly Sills, General Director). For more than 20 years right up until his death, Joe sang weekly in the choir at Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church (Chatham, NJ) under the direction of Robert Long.

Joe’s superb musicianship was matched nearly by his great good humor and his unfailing ability to make people laugh. Many of his best operatic roles were comedic. He was God’s instrument for warming our hearts with eternal music and puckish wit.

Those who survive Joe include his brother David McKee and Barbara Farrell (Brunswick,  ME), his niece Elizabeth McKee and husband Aaron Katz (Los Angeles), his nephew Andrew McKee and wife Kanako and daughters (Mill Valley, CA), his father’s wife Marilyn McKee (Naples, FL). And the many people whose hearts he touched and tickled who miss him dearly.

A memorial service to commemorate Joe and give thanks for his life is scheduled for Saturday, April 18th at 10:30 am in Chatham, NJ, at the Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, 234 Southern Boulevard. Meanwhile, mourners may leave tributes and remembrances online at Paul Ippolito Memorial Funeral Homes (Berkeley Heights, NJ), www.ippolitofuneralhomes.com.

Memorial donations are gratefully received by Corpus Christi Roman Catholic Church, 234 Southern Boulevard, Chatham, NJ 07928 and by the Cancer Research Institute, 29 Broadway, 4th Floor, New York, NY 10006-3111, www.cancerresearch.org.


Elizabeth Sinclair Flemer

Elizabeth Sinclair Flemer (“Lib”) died peacefully of natural causes at age 94, on Saturday, February 15th, surrounded by her loving children.

Born in Princeton in June, 1925, Lib attended Miss Fine’s School, Chatham Hall in Virginia, and graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1946 with a BA in music composition. The youngest of five children, her parents were Harriette Hart Doughty and Donald Bunker Sinclair, MD. Dr. Sinclair was one of the founding physicians of Princeton Hospital.

Lib married her childhood friend William Flemer III (“Bill”) in 1948. Bill’s family ran Princeton Nurseries in Kingston for four generations, beginning in 1913.

Lib and Bill lived their entire married lives on the nursery, where they raised their three children and a wide variety of farm animals. Bill died in 2007, and Lib moved to Stonebridge in Montgomery Twp. in 2009, where she lived until her death.

In addition to her many skills as a nursery wife and homemaker, Lib was instrumental in the 1950s in changing childbirth practices at Princeton Hospital, where her babies were born. Thanks to her efforts and to those of other determined young mothers, fathers were allowed into delivery rooms, and mothers were given the right to manage their own deliveries, refusing sedation if they so chose.

For several years, she organized and ran the annual ballet festivals of the Princeton Ballet Society. She was a longtime member of the Princeton choral organization Musical Amateurs.

A member of All Saints’ Church in Princeton from its founding in 1960, she sang in the choir, served on the vestry and as warden, headed the Episcopal Church Women group, and edited the church newsletter.

She taught literacy to inmates at the Mercer County Jail, and was a Literacy Volunteer of America at the Princeton Public Library.

She made all of her children’s friends feel welcome in the family home on the nursery. Last-minute extra guests for supper were always generously accommodated. She was a wonderful cook and renowned for her delicious pies.

She and Bill traveled repeatedly with their children to Nova Scotia, England, and the western U.S. Later, as a couple, they visited Japan, Africa, and Europe.

At Stonebridge, she was a founding member of the Stonebridge Singers and Stonebridge Players, with its Monday Supper Club.

Lib is survived by her three children: Louise Gross of Princeton, Heidi Hesselein of Allentown, NJ, and Bill Flemer IV, of Princeton. She was also blessed with  nine grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

Memorial donations can be made to All Saints’ Church, 16 All Saints’ Road, Princeton, NJ 08540, or to HomeFront, 1880 Princeton Avenue, Lawrence Twp., NJ 08648; homefrontnj.org.


Lillian Cohen

Lillian Cohen, 99, of Princeton died on February 19th at home.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, she lived in Princeton for 64 years.

Lillian was truly a modern woman for her time. She was curious, always reaching out to learn and experience those wonderful things that life had to offer her. She was an avid reader, loved studying French, going to concerts, and playing tennis. Lillian welcomed friends into her home regularly with open arms and great generosity sharing her wonderful cooking and spirited conversation. She was married for 59 years to Julius Cohen, a constitutional lawyer and distinguished Rutgers professor with whom she shared a rich and diverse life. They were companions of a quality one rarely had the privilege of observing.

Having grown up during the depression, Lillian went to work after taking secretarial courses right out of high school in order to help support her mother, two brothers, and sister. She also mourned the loss of her 18-year-old brother during World War II, a loss that haunted her throughout her life.

Those of us left behind will miss Lillian Cohen and will be forever grateful for her presence in our lives.