Elizabeth Madden Guittar died on Sept. 18 at her home on Martha’s Vineyard, surrounded by family. She was 78.

Born Carole Elizabeth Madden in Scotia, N.Y., to Farrell and Evelyn Madden, she graduated from Scotia-Glenville High School in 1959. She landed her first job at General Electric in nearby Schenectady. Blue-eyed and leggy, with movie-star beauty, she was tapped to model in the company’s newsletter, and later served as a hostess at the GE pavilion at the 1964-1965 World’s Fair in New York city.

Elizabeth spent most of her adult life in New York city, where she was a longtime resident of Stuy Town-Peter Cooper Village, the source of many lifelong friends. Her marriage to Lee J. Guittar, a newspaper executive, in 1979, took her and her family to live in Dallas, Denver, Washington, D.C., and San Francisco. In later years she divided her time between Martha’s Vineyard and Fort Lauderdale, Fla., but she never lost her appetite for the Big Apple.

As the wife of a newspaperman, Elizabeth socialized and traveled widely, coming into contact with prominent politicians, business people, athletes, and entertainers. And though she was a small-town girl who never went to college, she could hold her own in conversation with anyone. She was generous to a fault, and a hopeless do-gooder to her last days.

She was a voracious reader and news junkie, but expressed her true joie de vivre in the kitchen, turning out dishes that rivaled those of her hero, Julia Child. Already recognized by family and friends as a first-class cook and entertainer, she enrolled in the French Culinary Institute in New York, graduating in 1998. Food, wine and laughter flowed around chef Elizabeth’s table, and many cherished memories were created over leisurely meals there. Even when deteriorating health prevented her from cooking, she indulged her passion watching the TV Food Network with her children and grandchildren and posting recipes on social media.

While her long illness sapped her strength and energy, Elizabeth never lost her sharpness or the twinkle in her eye. To know her was to love her, and her absence will leave an enormous void in many lives. She wouldn’t want others to mourn her, but that would be impossible.

In addition to her husband of 39 years, she is survived by her children: Elisabeth Brew, Daniel C. Shedrick Jr., and Kathryn Shedrick; brothers Dennis and Michael Madden; eight grandchildren; five step-children, fourteen step-grandchildren, and nine-step great-grandchildren — a brood in which she delighted and took great pride. Gigi (short for Grandma Guittar) was also a surrogate mother and grandmother to countless friends and relatives, especially the sons of her late sister Judith Rapavy. Her nephew Barry Rapavy was like a son to her.

Recognizing her wishes, funeral and interment services will be private.

A memorial service will be announced in the future.Contributions can be sent to St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Memphis, TE.