Betty Jean Himelhoch Germer, a former schoolteacher and business manager who earned a master's degree in education in an era when few women did, died peacefully with her family at her side on Jan. 5, 2013. She was 86. For 59 years Mrs. Germer was the beloved wife of Alfred "Fred" Germer of Bradenton. She also was mother to Fawn Germer of Clearwater and Jim Germer of Bradenton. Mrs. Germer, a member of Temple Emanu-El in Sarasota and the Jewish women's charitable organization Hadassah, was known for her sharp wit and brilliant mind. In her later years she struggled to hold onto both as Alzheimer's slowly took them away. At the time of her death Mrs. Germer had been a resident of Freedom Village Bradenton for seven years, and her husband visited three times a day to help her with makeup or take her for a walk. Mrs. Germer was born June 19, 1926 in Flint, Michigan, the middle of five children: Gilbert, Charles, Robert and Evelyn Himelhoch. She attended school there and earned her master's degree from the University of Michigan. She returned to teach third grade in Midland and Flint, but after the birth of her son left teaching to manage business affairs for the drug store she owned with her husband, a pharmacist. After he was wounded in a robbery, she insisted the family sell their home and drug store and move to Sarasota in 1976. A year later the family settled in Bradenton. Though Mrs. Germer had left the teaching field, her family said she never had stopped being a source of inspiration and education to them. At age 66 she suffered a stroke and doctors said she would never walk, eat on her own or be independent. Despite partial paralysis, she eventually regained her mobility and earned back her driver's license. Years later, after breaking both hips, she was confined to a wheelchair. Her children describe Mrs. Germer as a voracious reader of non-fiction who loved riding her bike and going to the beach. "She never once complained about her challenges," said her daughter, Fawn Germer. "She just expressed gratitude for what people did for her." Said Jim: "Her body just gave out in the end, but she faced it with dignity. People will remember that she persevered." Mrs. Germer is survived by her husband Fred, now retired. She is also survived her son Jim Germer, a CPA and financial adviser, and his wife Jeannine of Bradenton; and by daughter Fawn Germer, a best-selling author and motivational speaker of Clearwater. A memorial service will be held Tuesday, January 8, 2013 at 2 o'clock at temple Emanu-El, 151 McIntosh Road, Sarasota, FL, 34232. Interment will be at Palms Memorial Park at a later date. Please make donations in her name to the Alzeimer's Foundation of America, 322 Eighth Ave, 7th Floor, New York, NY, 10001.
Published in The Bradenton Herald on Jan. 8, 2013