Remembering Alisa Bearov Landrum


Alisa Bearov Landrum

I was heart-broken earlier this week when I learned of the passing of my dear friend and mentor, Alisa Bearov Landrum.

Alisa hadn’t been well for many months. But that did nothing to reduce my shock and immediate grief when I picked up the sad message from her husband Charles.

A devoted wife, mother and grandmother, Alisa was also an incredible friend. This is evidenced by the outpouring of memories her friends have been sharing on social media over the past few days.

Like me, Alisa loved France – and especially Paris – from an early age. Alisa spent time in Paris as an Au Pair in the 1970’s, as part of her first degree in French.

Alisa was an extremely intelligent, curious woman. She built her career around law and teaching. Alisa also spent time in senior roles within department stores. Alisa shared that it was this time in her life that fostered her love of fashion. And it’s safe to say that Alisa was a supremely stylish woman.

Alisa was a fluent French speaker who also taught the French language for many years. She was instrumental in improving my own French. That said, I’m convinced my slow progress provided her with no end of frustration.

Alisa and I got to know each other through Distant Francophile. Alisa was a regular commenter on DF in the very early days. She’d provide different perspectives or insights on the subjects I wrote about. We started corresponding outside of DF when Alisa started her initial battle with cancer. Eventually we reached a point where we were catching up via Skype regularly. Sometimes we’d use the time for me to practice my French. Other times, we’d simply chat.

Despite the fact that we were on opposite sides of the Earth and from different generations, Alisa became a close friend. I can’t express how much I’m going to miss her sage advice and never-ending encouragement.

If you want to get a feel for how Alisa approached life you might like to read her comments on some of my blog posts. I loved the creativity that came with her comment on How To Wear French Girl Dresses. And her comment on New Ideas – Gifts For Francophiles gives you an idea of the care Alisa took with the details. Alisa was also my very first guest on The Franco-Files. If you’d like to learn more about a truly remarkable woman, I encourage you to listen in to episode one.

Scotty and I were lucky enough to spend some time with Alisa when we in Paris last year, just before her illness started to do its worst. It was a joy to share a meal with her in her delightful Parisian apartment. She’d had so much fun decorating the inviting space.

And I’ll remember forever the time she and I spent in the Musée d’Orsay. We explored the Degas à l’Opéra exhibition and chose French themed books for her beloved grandchildren. Scotty took the photo above on that same night, as the three of us headed toward the Tuileries Métro.

Thank you Alisa for enriching my life in so many ways. I’m so grateful to have had you in my life. I’ll miss you.

Our deepest sympathy goes out to Alisa’s husband Charles and her beautiful family. We know their hearts will be heavy right now.

Until next time – au revoir.


About Janelle

I believe that everyone can bring French elegance and inspiration to their life, no matter where they happen to live in the world. They only need to learn a secret or two to be on their way. When you join the Distant Francophile community, you’ll have access to the secrets that allow you to bring the best of the French lifestyle into your everyday life. I’m talking about things like style advice, recipes and book reviews. And you’ll also receive regular doses of French inspiration, as well as travel and packing tips galore.


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16 thoughts on “Remembering Alisa Bearov Landrum

  • jackie

    So sorry for the loss of your valued friend . Her loss will be felt deeply by many I feel sure. So glad you had the opportunity to spend time with her.

  • Denise Linkson

    So sorry Janelle to hear of the loss of your dear friend, she sounds like one of those friends who only comes along once in a lifetime & it also sounds like you were both lucky to have each other in your lives. I’m sure you will treasure her memory.

    • Janelle Post author

      Many thanks Denise. I’ll definitely treasure her memory – I feel like I was the one that got the most benefit from our friendship. She was a very special woman, who seemed willing to share her gifts and knowledge with everyone around her. I hope everything is good in your world x

      • Nat Lanier

        Dear Janelle,
        I am saddened by the loss of your friend, one very wonderful being. My most sincere condolences to you and Alisa ‘s family. May peace, love and comfort be with you during this difficult time.

    • Janelle Post author

      I’ve been incredibly lucky to meet some amazing people via my blog Catherine – and I count you as one of those amazing people xx It’s interesting, you and Alisa actually remind me of each other. Highly intelligent, thoughtful women who also love France. The friendships I’ve made via DF are my favourite thing about it. I hope things are good in your world xx

  • Ann

    So very sorry for your loss. What wonderful memories you have and how lucky you were to have a friend like that. May your memories comfort you and may she rest in peace.

  • Kairosia

    Such a loss, this wonderful, creative kindred spirit. At your suggestion I reread Alisa’s comments on your blog. The French dress options are brilliantly inspiring. You will doubtless carry her thoughts and perceptions with you in your future excursions in France. In the meantime, sincere condolences for this profound loss.

    • Janelle Post author

      It’s so lovely that you went back to look at Alisa’s comment Kairosia. And yes, I’m not quite sure how Paris will feel, knowing Alisa has passed. Thank you so much for your lovely comment – I really do appreciate it.

  • Brian Landrum

    Hi Janelle,

    Thank you for the touching tribute to my mom. She spoke very highly of you and treasured your friendship. Know that she will be with you always, in spirit and in the mark she left on your life.

    Sincerely,
    Brian Landrum

    • Janelle Post author

      Thank you for reaching out Brian with such lovely words, especially at such a tough time for you and your family. Your mom was an inspirational lady who encouraged me to learn and grow, and I was blessed to have known her. Sending you and yours love and my deepest sympathy xx

  • Anna

    i “met” Alisa through face book, and share similar sentiments. She was eternally curious. Her face book posts were captivating. I am an American, living in the Loire Valley. I try to make it to Paris every couple of months. Alisa and I arranged to meet in Paris. What more perfect place to initiate a friendship that will never be forgotten? We had lunch at a restaurant local to her precious apartment, then went back to it to have tea. We talked all day. She wanted to buy a couple of up (and down) lights for her apartment, as one of the two she’d purchased, was broken in the box. So off we went to LeRoy Merlin in the Marias. So like me, she bought two to replace the broken fixture, “just in case” one was broken again. She walked with me to the metro “Cité,” and saw me off there. I ended up walking back to my hotel in the 5th. She said, the next day, “I knew you would.” On her last time in Paris, we met at a restaurant near Musée Luxembourg. Then, off to the Panthéon for an exhibit on the history of the deaf in France. I feel so very honored to have know her. Her friendship was a gift to me. Although she told me that she was unlikely to win the battle against this horrible disease, I still find myself stunned, shattered, and heart-broken at the loss.

    • Janelle Post author

      I’m so sorry Anna. I’ve only just realised that I’d not been receiving all comments for approval. Alisa was so generous with her time and with her sharing of all things educational. Like you, I was honoured – and grateful – to have known her, and to receive the gift of her friendship. And we also share the heart-breaking loss. Alisa will never be forgotten – and will always be missed. xx