Elizabeth Comte Reisman

Elizabeth Comte Reisman Dies at 55

Elizabeth Comte Reisman, a former award-winning journalist and owner of Creative Music Center in Monroe, Connecticut, died Jan. 9 from an aggressive brain cancer. She was 55 years old.

A family-supplied obituary said "they will always remember with great admiration how Liz lived with the disease for the past 30 months, living under the shadow of cancer while still exhibiting the love, caring and levity which characterized her entire life."

Comte Reisman was raised in Albany, California, and began a lifelong devotion to music, playing the flute with the Oakland Youth Symphony Orchestra, the Bay Area Wind Symphony and first chair at Albany High School. She went on to attend the University of California, Davis, graduating in 1986. She then attended the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, earning a master's degree in 1988.

In 1989, Comte Reisman moved to New York City and embarked on a pioneering journalism career. She reported on the business of sports for several publications, including Sports Inc., The Sporting News, The National Sports Daily and Sport Magazine. She was among the first to break the barrier which prohibited female reporters from the locker rooms of professional sports athletes, previously the exclusive domain of male reporters. She later covered sports and other business subjects for Forbes Magazine.

When the Wall Street Journal launched Smart Money Magazine in 1993, Comte Reisman joined its staff and won a National Magazine Award for reporting on the insurance industry. She joined Golf Digest in 1995 as one of its few female editors and quickly added the creation and development of a monthly special section aimed at women golfers to her responsibilities. By 1998, she led the launch of Golf Digest Woman and served as its managing editor.

In 2002, Comte Reisman left journalism and returned to her first love, music. Her daughter began taking piano lessons at a music store in Monroe, Connecticut. But when the owner of the store announced she was closing it, Comte Reisman decided she wanted to save the business for the community.

She bought and quickly expanded the business, building a new 5,000-square-foot venue for her Creative Music Center and passionately supporting music education on a local and national level. Comte Reisman was elected to the board of directors of both the National Association of School Music Dealers (NASMD) and NAMM. She relished lobbying on behalf of those organizations in Washington, D.C. to support public funding for music education. Her store has been named one of the top 100 music retailers in North America in nine of the last 10 years by NAMM.

Through the years, Comte Reisman was an avid and active birder and photographer. She was a member of the Audubon Society and worked with several birding societies to track and monitor certain species, including the osprey. Her love of nature led her to make several trips to Thailand in support of the preservation of native elephants. And those who knew Comte Reisman best remember her enduring bonds with the family's dogs, particularly Emmie.

Comte Reisman is survived by her husband, Mike, a sports and entertainment marketing executive in Westport, her daughter, Samantha, and her son, Charlie. She also is survived by her mother, Renee Comte of Redwood Valley, California, her father, Harry Smallenburg of Burbank, California, and sister Jessamyn Smallenburg of Royal Oak, Michigan. Her adoptive father, George Comte, died in 1996.

In lieu of flowers, contributions in her memory may be made to The NAMM Foundation and its efforts to advance music education for people of all ages and abilities: nammfoundation.org/donate/annualfund or mskcc.convio.net/goto/LizReisman. Please specify to allocate donations to brain cancer research.

There will be no formal funeral service. The family will remember Comte Reisman with a private celebration of her life.