Marty (Elizabeth) Aaron neé Steiner was born on 28th April 1925 and lived with her 4 sisters and 2 brothers in the small Swiss village of Illnau, now part of Illnau-Effretikon, Kanton Zurich.
Her parents Ernst Steiner and Elisa Steiner (neé Steck) originated in Kanton Bern. Ernst was a very successful and gifted Master Builder. Ernst unfortunately died in middle age from a stroke - Marty always missed her father. Mother Elisa survived until 1965, her 80th year.
In her early years Marty helped deliver vegetable, on a small handcart, to the local Maggi factory in nearby Kempthal.
In her teens, Marty attended catering college in Zurich and, as part of her training, worked at the exclusive Dolder Grand Hotel Zurich.
She recounts how, also in her teens, she would cycle from Illnau to the Bern region, in a day - just to visit relatives - a distance, by modern motorway, of 87 miles. Switzerland is not a flat country. The journey was made more difficult in a couple of villages along the route, as a young lady wearing shorts was frowned upon in those days in some areas of Switzerland.
In the 1950's Marty came over to England and finally settled in Leeds, West Yorkshire. She eventually went on to work for Lewis's Department Store, where she ran the ice cream bar of the basement Cafe and Restaurant.
It was there that she was to meet the love of her life Don Aaron. Don was a student at Birmingham University and had taken a Summer holiday job in Lewis's. Luckily, for him, he was assigned to the Cafe. Don came from Knottingley, a small manufacturing town, about an hour's bus ride from Leeds. Don recalls, during his student days, travelling by train with Marty to Switzerland to meet her wonderful family.
On completion of University, Don was called up do his National Service. Rather than do two years in the army, Don instead signed up for three years service in the RAF as a Radar Mechanic. After basic training at RAF Bridgnorth he was posted to the RAF Training School at RAF Locking, located near Weston-Super-Mere. Whilst at Locking he was able to get leave and travelled to Leeds where he and Marty were married in Leeds Registry Office on the 16th of February of 1959.
After a while Marty left Leeds and joined him in Weston. They lived with a lovely retired couple, just off the sea front on Seven Road. Marty found a job in the local Littlewoods store and very quickly became the manager of the store cafe.
Don was posted to RAF Patrington in Humberside and initially lived on site. He was latter joined by Marty; they then lived in a small bungalow on Hubert Street in Withernsea. Don travelled daily on RAF transport from Withernsea to the Radar Site a few miles along the coast at RAF Holmpton.
Son Donald Ian was born in the Withernsea small maternity home on the 15th of February 1962.
After leaving the RAF Don joined the Marconi company in Chelmsford where he was soon joined by Marty and son Doni. After a short period Don moved to Cossor Electronics (now Raytheon Systems Ltd) in Harlow in 1963. Initially he was a passenger in a car share scheme travelling between Chelmsford and Harlow daily. Don relocated his family on July 4th 1964 to their new home in Fir Park in Harlow.
During his career with Cossor Don was often away for extended periods but Marty never complained, she just got on with her daily life; being a brilliant housewife.
During the 1970's Marty ran a large and very successful Playgroup in the Church Hall in Hare Street. She was supported by a lovely team of dedicated ladies and true friends:- Barbara Ralph, Maureen Friday, Pam Stainsby, Vena Archer, and others. Marty loved every day in the Playgroup. The fact that over 30 years later many of her 'children' still stopped Marty in the street and gave her a hug, suggests that everyone who passed through the Playgroup loved it too!
Family holidays were driven by the desire to get Marty home to Switzerland to maintain contact with her family. Marty and Don spent many happy holidays together in Switzerland. However, in truth, just wallowing in the scenery and enjoying exploring the countryside, and food, may have also entered in to the equation.
In Switzerland they stayed in a guest house (Hotel Landhaus) outside Marty's home town of Effretikon; with Marty's sister Else in Winterthur and then later in Bad Ragaz; and also in an apartment in a small house on Lake Brienz. Initially it was just Marty Doni and Don on the trips. Latter, Don's Mother Ivy accompanied them on two of the road trips. In those days "cross country" - France and Switzerland - No Motorways.
When son Doni was at University, it was just the two of them - enjoying great times, initially with Sister Else and Husband Heini in Bad Ragaz, and then later at the Soleval in Lenzerheide. From these bases they explored the length and breadth of Switzerland in epic car journeys, exploring many mountain passes en-route. These included a number of day trips to Frasco in Ticcino to visit Brother Fritz and his Wife Heddy in their holiday home in Frasco, Valle Versasca. The direct route from Eastern Switzerland was the San Bernardino Pass to Bellinzona, and then on to Frasco in Canton Ticino. The return route often took in a diversion via the Gotthard Pass to Andermatt and then the Oberalp Pass back to Chur.
Although the apartments in the Soleval all have very good kitchens, it was far more fun to have breakfast, get in to the car, down the road to Chur and then on the Motorway (North or South) to a new region to be explored. There, off the Motorway, Marty and Don would then explore, often sampling the local cuisine. Bern, in the East, was only a few hours away; over the mountains, or on the Motorway via Zurich - Marty loved the Mountains.
Later, some of the Swiss trips were with the extended family, They then stayed at the Soleval (Lenzerheide) in separate apartments. Although Lenzerheide is a winter ski resort, it does have plenty of summer sports facilities. The elevation of Lenzerheride means that, even on the hottest summer day, the daytimer temperature is always bearable.
In 2014 the full family (Don, Marty, Doni, Sam and the four "Children") rented a chalet in Churwalden. This was their last Swiss holiday. They were fortunate to meet Fritz (and his extended family) on two occasions during this holiday. Once in a mountainside restaurant, just outside Bad Ragaz and then, on the return leg of the holiday, at Fritz's home just outside Effretikon.
Other destinations with the grandchildren were Spain, Turkey and Crete. Holidays in the UK were mainly in the Cotswolds or they would travel to Yorkshire 3 or 4 times a year to visit Don's Mother; Marty and she were the very best of friends.
In the 1990's Marty became a Grandmother, or Grosi, to Louise and Thomas. She would often borrow the family car and disappear to Pilgrims Hatch (Brentwood) and latter Galleywood to look after Louise and Thomas in their early years, she would then take then on many trips. Marty and Don loved to have them both visit Harlow on sleep overs.
Don was a member the Harlow Branch of the BCSS for a number of years. Marty was a keen supporter the club and baked many a fine cake in support. She always welcomed the club members when they hosted the frequent meetings in Fir Park. Later the club amalgamated with another branch to become the Lea Valley Branch, where again Marty gave here wholehearted support.
As an RHS member, Marty took great joy in taking Don, as her guest, to RHS Hyde Hall to see Cactus and other events. It's a family joke that, on these and similar occasions, Don was Marty's handbag - he is very proud of this accolade.
Together Marty and Don loved to explore the many local Garden Centres, enjoying the plants on offer.
During the Playgroup years, Marty and friend Maureen spent many Monday evenings attending the ceramic sessions in Roydon. Marty took great pleasure in decorating ceramic items for her many friends and acquaintances.
For many years Marty was a keen gardener, and took pride in the borders. Don's help was accepted only where any hard landscaping was required. Other forms of help were tolerated. However, as he tended to concentrate on the greenhouse with his Cacti, there were never any conflicts of interest.
Marty had a wide circle of Friends and Contacts - some developed through her Playgroup years, or via her pleasure in attending "Events" She was always at ease with whoever she met and genuinely enjoyed social contact and a cup of coffee. She took great pleasure in being with just "nice people"
On Don's retirement in 2001, they embarked on an epic journey together - enjoying each others company to the full - no longer constrained by the need to respect the Working Week.
Son Don Ian moved to Wales in 2016 and Marty and Don enjoyed that Christmas with the grandchildren and their parents.
One of great days for Marty was when she attended the wedding of Son Don Ian to his long term partner Sam(antha) on July 7th 2017.
Sadly Marty, after a short illness, brought on initially by a simple common cold, passed away on January 17th 2018.
To Family and Friends, she was Marty
To her Immediate Family, she was Grosi
To Don she was both the above - but forever his "Darling" - The Love of His Life
Anyone who knew Grosi knows how important her family, and her grandchildren, were to her. So, I would like to talk for a couple of minutes about what she meant to us.
Growing up, Grosi was always there to look after us. But really, it was so much more than that.
If Thomas and I were going to stay with Grosi and Papa, we could be certain of 3 things.
1. That we would get paint and glue and drawings all over the kitchen
2. That if we were polite and grateful we could do whatever fun activity we liked
3. That we would eat a lot of really good food. Particular favourites were swiss schnitzel, mash potato (which was always papas job) and Grosi's famous homemade chocolate cake
Growing up we knew how lucky we were to have a grandmother who was so kind and selfless, overwhelmingly generous, and absolutely full of love - including for our step sister and brother Regan and Tiggs whom she took entirely into her heart
In more recent years there has been a lot of change in all our lives as one by one, we moved away from home for study or work, and we perhaps didn't see Grosi and Papa so regularly.
However, in the times that we did, I feel I got to know Grosi in a whole new way.
As I grew up, Grosi would talk to me more about her life growing up. About decisions she made as a young woman, the wonderful things she had achieved, and about what she still wanted to do in her life.
I learnt that aside from being kind and generous she was also fiercely independent, determined, shrewd and she had a fantastic sense of humour. I feel more fortunate that I can describe to have known her like this and can see now how so much that I aspire to, comes from her.
We had of course hoped that Grosi would be there for the big events in our futures, and I personally had really hoped that Grosi would see me become a doctor. However, that sadness is overwhelmed by the abundance of happy memories we have.
What we have are memories of Grosi cuddling us when we had chicken pox.
Of 'fashion shows' where we would put on her and Pa's clothes and dance around the house
Of Thomas and I building dens in her living room out of the dining room chairs and blankets, where we would sit for hours and play
Of trips to 'Toys R us' in Harlow
Of endless art supplies and of spending weekends making and crafting, including the occasion where I ambitiously tried to turn the kitchen into a rainforest with Grosi's help
More recently, of sitting on a balcony in Switzerland, and Grosi telling us how much she loved the mountains
Of Grosi at my Graduation, and later of her arriving at my Dad's wedding in the back of a tractor. Seeing her pride in her children and Grandchildren is a memory I will treasure forever.
These wonderful memories reflect only a fraction of how much Grosi meant to us and of how much we love her, and we will continue to remember her and the irreplaceable part she played in all our lives.