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Elser, John T. January 8, 1930 - January 29, 2021

John T. Elser, 91, passed away peacefully at his home in Bronxville, NY, on Friday, January 29, 2021.

He was born on January 8, 1930, to Antoine and Julia (Behr) Elser. Raised in the Bronx in a strong Catholic tradition, John attended Cardinal Hayes High School and Manhattan College. After graduating from Fordham Law School, he served in the Korean War.

John married his sweetheart, Norma Fazia, in 1958. They moved from Woodlawn to Crestwood where they raised four children and found a strong sense of community as faithful parishioners of Annunciation Church. In Crestwood, John learned to play tennis, and the friends he made on the neighborhood courts remained constant throughout his life. His weekly game sparked a web of family connections and fond memories that endure to this day.

In his professional life, John co-founded the law firm Wilson, Elser, Moskowitz, Edelman and Dicker and was instrumental in its national and international expansion. He loved practicing law and the camaraderie of his colleagues. His work frequently brought him to Tokyo and London, cities that he greatly admired.

To his surprise, John thoroughly enjoyed retirement. He spent his newfound time at his favorite place, Lake George, and in Florida. He taught himself to cook, visited museums, and discovered the joys and frustrations of golf.  He and Norma moved to Bronxville in 2014 where he delighted in his daily rounds to the local shops.

John is predeceased by his sister, Vivian Creedon. He is survived by his sisters, Rose Marie and Eleanore Elser; his wife, Norma, with whom he shared 62 loving years; and his children Bernard, Elizabeth Sauerbrunn, Mara, and Diana LaRock (Brian).  He also leaves behind six grandchildren, Kyle, Chrissy, Will, Zachary, Zoe, and Eliza, of whom he was so proud. A friend to many, he will be dearly missed.

In lieu of flowers the family kindly requests contributions to Cardinal Hayes High School (www.cardinalhayes.org), The Parkinson’s Foundation (www.Parkinson.org), or the charity of your choice.

A Private Family Mass: 11 am, Wednesday, February 3, 2021 at Annunciation Church, Crestwood

To Live Stream Mass: Please Click Here

In Lieu of Flowers: Contributions may be made to Cardinal Hayes High School or to The Parkinson's Foundation


  1. REPLY
    Carole & Harold Moskowitz says

    To Norma & the whole Elser family
    Our sincere condolences to all of you. John was a champion in every imaginable way. A role model with a passion for perfection and respect for excellence and caring for all. A gentleman, kind and encouraging to all everyone and a tireless globe trotter to serve his clients and promote our law firm. Love, Carole and Harold

  2. REPLY
    Patrick M. Kelly says

    Our most heartfelt condolences to the entire Elser family bJohn was a leader of our firm and a fantastic moral touchstone for all of us. He was truly a lawyers lawyer and a gentleman of distinction. I viewed him as a mentor and friend who had tremendous influence on the career and professionalism of those who had the honor to interact with him. Most important he was a wonderful husband and father – and a true friend.

  3. REPLY
    Larry Lum says

    My deepest condolences to the Elser Family for your loss. John was a tremendous attorney, leader and mentor; he was a great inspiration to me personally and I will forever hold him in the highest esteem. Respectfully, Larry

  4. REPLY
    Mary and Carl Pernicone says

    Dear Norma, Bernie, Beth, Mara and DeDe,
    How saddened we are to learn of John’s passing and we share in your loss. At the same time, we are blessed to have known him as no better friend, neighbor, mentor or colleague could there be. May your memories, the love of God and the promise of eternal life sustain you.
    Mary and Carl

  5. REPLY
    Fumiko & Kaz Nakazawa says

    To Norma-san, Diana-san, and the whole Elser family.
    We sincerely condolence from our hearts to all of you.
    Mr.Elser was the mentor for us and taught us a lot of things.
    We were inspired to run my law office in Tokyo by his suggestion and advice.
    We are appreciated him forever. Fumiko & Kaz.

  6. REPLY
    Frederick Reif says

    Our deepest condolences to the Elser family for your loss. John had an enormous influence on my career – he served as a mentor and inspiration. I am deeply grateful for the opportunities that he made possible. He will be greatly missed. Regards, Fred

  7. REPLY
    Rich Rubenstein says

    To the Elser family:

    John was a visionary. If it wasn’t for his keen business sense and legal acumen, our firm would never have enjoyed the success that it did. He gave me my first big opportunity as a lawyer and I learned a great deal from him.

    I still remember when he addressed the first year associates (of which I was one at the time) about filling out timesheets and he said that February was “probably the shortest month of the year.” I learned then that a good lawyer always allows himself wiggle room. Today marks my 39th year anniversary with the firm. It would never have happened without that remarkable man.

  8. REPLY
    Daniel Morrison says

    My deepest condolences to the Elser family. Your husband and father was a kind and thoughtful individual who touched those of us who were fortunate enough to have known him. His incredible legacy is truly inspirational.

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