Elizabeth Sculthorp Force, 104, education pioneer and gardener


By Albert Amateau

Elizabeth Sculthorp Force, a pioneer in family-life education and a Village resident active in the Jefferson Market Garden, died Jan. 24 in her Horatio St. home at the age of 104.

She came to the Village in 1957 when she retired from the Toms River, N.J., school system where she pioneered a family-life education program for high school students that served as a national model for sex education.

Elizabeth Force was a parishioner of Grace Church and served as secretary of the Grace Church vestry for many years, according to her longtime friend and Village neighbor Margaret Daly.

For nearly 20 years she traveled and spoke for the American Social Health Association, and in 1968 she served as president of the National Council on Family Relations.

During the early 1970s she was a member for a while of the committee that lobbied for the creation of the Jefferson Market Garden at the intersection of Greenwich and Sixth Aves. next to the Jefferson Market Library. She became active again in the garden around 1990.

“She was an avid volunteer at the garden, a very gracious hostess to visitors at the gate,” said Allan Pilikian, vice president and a founder of the garden committee. “As Elizabeth got into her 90s she used to joke with people who complained about getting old,” Pilikian recalled. “She had a lot of business experience and was a valuable member of our board of directors,” Pilikian said.

“She was our oldest volunteer,” said Jeanine Flaherty, president of the Jefferson Market Garden Committee. “She was sharp, charming and always perfectly coifed and at the top of her game. She came through a heavy rain to the party we had for her 100th birthday,” Flaherty recalled.

Born on March 25, 1902, in Sea Bright, N.J., she was one of seven daughters of Sophie Worthy Sculthorp and Willis Middleton Sculthorp, a Sea Bright fisherman. She graduated from Toms River High School and Montclair Normal School, and in 1927 married Herman Force, who died a few years later. She later earned a B.S. and M.A. from New York University.

A grandnephew, Allen Terhune, of Beachwood, N.J., and his children, Allen Jr. and Kristen, survive.

A memorial service will be held at Grace Church, at Broadway and E. 10th St., at 11 a.m. Feb. 17.