Lillian Grace ‘Babe’ Travis Ortloff
Lillian Grace Travis Ortloff, one of Lake Placid’s most beloved residents, died in the early morning of Dec. 27 at Elderwood of Uihlein at Lake Placid. Known as Babe from her earliest years, she was born on July 19, 1916, in Hopewell Junction, New York, the third daughter of George and Alice (Smith) Travis. In 1933 she graduated from Albany High School and in 1937 graduated from Russell Sage College in Troy, New York, with a degree in physical education.
Her family summered in Keene Valley during this time, where they leased Interbrook Lodge. Babe, her sisters and parents managed the hotel, and there she met many of her lifelong friends. During her college years Babe was a counselor for one summer at Camp Kearsarge in Naples, Maine, teaching tennis, golf, swimming and other outdoor sports.
Upon graduation from Russell Sage, Babe accepted her first teaching position at St. John’s School in Mountain Lakes, New Jersey, where she taught from 1937 to 1939. In 1939 she moved to Lake Placid, where she was the physical education teacher at Lake Placid Central School until 1942. That year, she accepted a teaching job in Hyde Park and then moved on to Mamaroneck High School until October of 1944.
Increasingly frustrated at being on the sidelines of World War II, she joined the American Red Cross in the summer of 1944. Crossing the Atlantic on a troop ship at the height of the war with German submarines surrounding them at several points is a harrowing story she told often. She was stationed in Mourmellon and Reims, France, with the American Red Cross at the 227th General Hospital as a recreation worker.
On returning from her service in the Red Cross, Babe moved back to Lake Placid, where she met Carl Jacob Ortloff, a war veteran and native of Lake Placid. They were married on Oct. 27, 1946, at Interbrook Lodge. Following her marriage, Babe devoted herself to raising her family. Her first child, George Christian, was born in 1947, followed by Stephen Carl in 1949, Susan Carol in 1954 and Ellen Frances in 1960.
Babe lived a full, active life. In addition to assisting with the family businesses, Ortloff TV and Macromedia Inc., Babe used her many talents to enrich her community. She was instrumental in forming Lake Placid’s Head Start program, serving as its first teacher, and was a substitute teacher for Lake Placid Central School. She was active at St. Eustace Episcopal Church, in the Lake Placid Garden Club, Lake Placid Ski Club, the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross and the American Cancer Society. Every medal diploma from the 1980 Olympic Winter Games bears her calligraphy.
Sport and physical fitness played major roles in her life. Golf and skiing were favorite activities in her younger years; in high school she was the New York state junior golf champion. Even into her 80s, she bowled and played tennis. Countless photographs from her life attest to her love of hiking and swimming, the latter a fixture of decades of summers at the Ortloff camp on Moose Island in Lake Placid.
At home, Babe instilled in her children her love of music and literature, her work ethic and her sense of adventure. Her house on Oneida Avenue in Lake Placid was forever a warm, welcoming place. All who entered, whether closest relations or complete strangers, left as family, with smiles on their faces; Babe’s constant humor remains a fond memory for all who knew her.
Babe is survived by her children Chris (Ruth Mary), Sue Cameron (Glen) and Ellen Saint-Louis (Scott); grandchildren Chris Ortloff Jr., Jonathan Ortloff, Lauren Saint-Louis and Elizabeth Saint-Louis; her nephew Travis Edmonds (Lee); her niece Joan Barnum (Ray); and step-grandchildren Ken Valentine, Debbie Valentine and Christine Valentine. She was predeceased by her husband Carl, her son Stephen, her stepdaughter Jackie Valentine and her two sisters, Evelyn (Ted) Morrison and Florence (Wilbur) Edmonds.
Calling hours are 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 29 at the M.B. Clark Funeral Home in Lake Placid. A funeral service will take place at St. Eustace Episcopal Church in Lake Placid at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 30. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Stephen C. Ortloff Memorial Organ Fund at St. Eustace Church or to the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service.
Relatives and friends are invited to share a memory or leave condolences at www.mbclarkfuneralhome.com.