West Sand Lake - Eve Maire Rebassoo was a strong, independent woman. Her life marked by adversity, devotion to her Estonian heritage, and giving all of herself for her children and grandchildren.
Eve arrived to Villem and Aliide Ilves Dec. 15, 1941 in the Baltic Sea village Kuressaare on the idyllic island of Saaremaa, Estonia. Conflict raged between Stalin’s Soviet army and Hitler’s Nazi forces. The family, with two year old Eve and older sister Helgi, decided to leave their beloved homeland. They sailed safely to Sweden with their father at the helm. Fears of deportation and imprisonment still loomed as fugitives of now-Soviet Estonia. Fleeing again, they crossed the Atlantic in a two mast schooner. Hurricanes dashed other vessels and lives, yet Eve recalled that she, the daughter of a sea captain, was not allowed to get seasick. Making landfall in the U.S., Eve spent her 10 th birthday and welcomed the birth of a brother, William (Billy) at Ellis Island.
The family settled in New York’s capital region in homes hand crafted by her father and uncles. Here she graduated from Averill Park High School in 1960, losing sister Helgi to illness along the way. Eve was a naturally talented artist who also had a passion for dance and gymnastics. Throughout her life, she enjoyed drawing, crocheting and adorning her designs onto woodcraft. Ultimately her pragmatism and abundant intellect lead her to attain a B.S. degree from Union University through the Albany College of Pharmacy Medical Technology program.
Eve met future husband Peep several years later. They had three children, Lehho, Laine and Valev. Raising them primarily became a solo endeavor. Battling stigmas as a divorced mother in the 1970’s and 80’s, she persevered. She started a successful career as an inspector for hospital accrediting non-profit, The Joint Commission. A degenerative spinal condition cut short her budding career. During this already trying time, both her parents passed. Her strength, courage and commitment to her children guided her through her pain. She started a second career as a Licensed Clinical Laboratory Consultant, enforcing safety regulations in physician clinics through the New York State Department of Health. She proudly worked there 25 years until her 2019 retirement.
She took the greatest pride in immersing her children in Estonian language and traditions. Countless weekend hours spent driving to Estonian school in Connecticut. They practiced folk dancing and singing, performing together at Estonian events, even singing in Carnegie Hall. She spent vacation time from work taking them to Estonian summer camps where she also worked or volunteered. They were active members in the Estonian Lutheran Church where for decades she organized activities for the Schenectady church. Eve was also a member of the Estonian sorority Filiae Patriae.
One of Eve’s biggest passions was travel. This culminated in a family vacation back to Estonia. The family gathered there in 2019 for the country’s centennial celebration 75 years after her abrupt departure. But adversity never abated. In 2020 she lost her eldest son Lehho to cancer not long after her own diagnosis. Early on the morning of March 1, 2021, Eve lost her battle with cancer as she slept peacefully at home in the company of her two remaining children. She will be laid to rest in Elmwood Cemetery next to her mother and sister. She was a wonderful woman deserving of respect, gratitude and admiration. She will be always loved and greatly missed.
Eve is survived by her daughter, Laine (Daniel); son, Valev (Nicole); brother, William (Ligita); partner to her late son, Heather Hackett; grandchildren Magnus and Skye; and many close friends and colleagues, notably Carolee Coffey (Tom).
Relatives and friends may call at the DeGraaf-Bryce Funeral Home, Inc. 4392 NY150, West Sand Lake on Saturday, March 6, 2021 from 11AM-1PM followed by a service at 1PM. Face covering and social distancing are required at all times both outside and inside during visitation and services.
Interment will be in Elmwood Cemetery in West Sand Lake.
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