Esther Bryan Lyss-Greenstein passed away peacefully on Sunday August 2nd, 2020 in St. Louis, MO. Though slowed by Alzheimer’s in recent years, Esther is known for a lifetime of boundless energy – connecting with her daughters, exercising with a friend, baking with her grandkids, serving her many communities, or spending fun times with Harvey.
Esther is survived by her husband Harvey Greenstein; her children Sheryl Lyss (Paul Lewis), Julie Lyss, and Pamela Lyss-Lerman (Jason Lerman); her children by marriage Janet (Barry) Lutz, Mike (Lisa) Greenstein, Jim Greenstein (Lori Linder), Davia Loren and Sharon Gorman; grandchildren Caleb and Brianna Lyss-Lewis, Shira, Isaac, and Aviva Lyss-Loren, Noah, Itai, and Ezra Lerman, Jennifer (Steve) Edele, Amanda Lutz, Emily (Maurice) Lewis, Daniel Greenstein, Lauren Greenstein, Joey Greenstein, Jessica Greenstein, Aubrey Greenstein, Skye Lewis, Graham and Piper Edele, and dozens of devoted nieces, nephews, cousins, and other relatives and life-long friends who miss their opportunities to be enveloped by Esther’s loving connection. Esther was predeceased by her first husband, Stanley Lyss, MD; her brother, Bernard Bryan; and her loving parents and in-laws, Ida & Irving Bryan and Bluma & Paul Lyss.
Esther Sharon Bryan was born May 23, 1938, in Marietta, GA where she lived with parents and older brother. In her teen years, the family moved to Atlanta so Esther could join a vibrant Jewish community. Her experiences with B’nai B’rith Girls launched her deep dedication to cultivating a rich Jewish life and solidified her passion for helping others. Upon graduating high school, she attended Emory University and The Ohio State University before transferring to Washington University – St. Louis’s (WUSTL) Central Institute for the Deaf (CID) where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Audiology and Communication in 1960.
While at WUSTL, Esther met her (first) husband, Stanley Lyss. Together, they raised their three daughters in St. Louis where Stanley’s family has deep roots. The tight relationships that Esther cultivated with her new extended family taught her children to prioritize their relatives near and far.
Esther was a life-long educator, formally starting her career at CID. Years later, she created a program at Congregation Shaare Emeth that allowed the Jewish deaf boarding students to fully participate in its religious school both inside and outside the classroom—but one example of her strong convictions. She also invented and produced a pill dispenser to help families struggling to track medication compliance. She authored and co-authored three interactive books for families: Don’t Flip, It’s Only A Trip; We’re Moving, We’re Moving; and The Muddy Cruddy Flood. Esther rounded out her career as an art broker. As her students, clients, friends, and relatives attest, Esther was respected and loved by all who had the pleasure to work with her.
Passionate about biking, swimming, hiking, and gardening, Esther was happiest when immersed outside. Throughout her adulthood, Esther could be seen walking or biking along Wydown Boulevard most weekend mornings after enjoying breakfast on her back porch.
Regardless of where she lived or what kept her busy, Esther was known as a consummate friend. Esther had a gift for building unique and lasting relationships with people in every corner of her life. Her charming personality and southern lilt drew people to her, and her compassion, creative thinking, and willingness to give and receive love endeared her to so many. She sought intimate connection with others, and her kind-hearted personality and spunky taste in art, clothing, and toenail polish brought energy, spirit, and humor to any room she entered.
Yet Esther’s greatest devotion was her family. Her children adored her when growing up in her home and later revered her as they created families of their own. She was an exemplary mom to Sheryl, Julie, and Pam from as early as they can remember, prioritizing time with her family and teaching her children to look to each other not only as siblings but also as the closest of friends—a gift for which they are eternally grateful. The Lyss family loved to travel together, and Esther instilled this value in her girls and grandchildren, who to this day still “oooh” and “ahhh” at beautiful scenes and new experiences with her enthusiasm.
Esther combined all these loves—community, Judaism, friends, and family—through legendary holiday meals. She hosted two Seders a year, gathering more than 30 relatives, friends, and strangers around her table and reading from the Haggadah the family created in 1979, long ahead of today’s current trends to create such new traditions. For Sukkot, they were among the few Reform Jews who built a sukkah and invited guests each night of the holiday. Esther created a home where people were coming in the front and out the back at all times of day or night, stopping in between at the kitchen table for desserts, milky coffee, or soda with crushed ice.
As if life with Stanley (deceased 1993) and her family was not joyous enough, Esther was blessed to fall in love with Harvey Greenstein, whom she joyfully married in 1997. Esther spent endless hours laughing at Harvey’s clever humor and learning from his wisdom. Together, Harvey and Esther adored road trips with numerous stops, tutoring elementary school, sharing fried chicken, doing mitzvot, and most of all, spending time and Jewish holidays with their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.
We thank the dedicated staff at Parc Provence for lovingly taking care of our mom and of us in her final years.
There will be a private funeral at Congregation Shaare Emeth, which will be live-streamed, followed by a private burial. Please join the family for virtual shiva throughout the week. Visit bergermemorialchapel.com for more information.
Please consider making a contribution in honor of Esther’s life to either the Stanley Lyss and Esther Lyss-Greenstein Life-Long Learning Fund at Shaare Emeth, the Central Institute for the Deaf, or to Memory Care Home Solutions.
BERGER MEMORIAL SERVICE