Elsie Kemp Schmitz

Obituary
3 entries
  • "As warm and kind a person as ever was. She was always..."
    - Carl Mason
  • "Sadly, I never really knew Mrs. Schmitz. I met her once at..."
    - Mary Ann Segal (Gleason)
  • "A wonderful lady! She always had time for me when I was a..."
    - Laurie Shapton
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Schmitz, Elsie Kemp 1932-2008. The family of Elsie Kemp Schmitz has announced that she passed away on May 1, 2008 at her apartment at the Sunrise Assisted Living facility in Richmond Heights. Mrs. Schmitz had been unable to recover from the significant brain trauma she had suffered following a fall several weeks earlier. Born Elsie Wilhelmina Kemp on May 4, 1932 to W. Thomas Kemp and Mary Ott Kemp, Elsie was raised in Baltimore, Maryland where she received her education at the Bryn Mawr School. She attended at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where she studied English and graduated summa cum laude in 1954. That same year she was awarded a prestigious Marshall Scholarship, which she used to attend Girton College at Cambridge University in England. Over the next several years, she devoted her time at Cambridge to the study and performance of Shakespeare and other Elizabethan dramatists. In 1959 she married J. Peter Schmitz, whom she had known since her days as an undergraduate, and moved to the St. Louis area. While he finished his law degree at Washington University, Elsie taught English at Mary Institute in St. Louis. As was often the case in that era, she stopped teaching when she became a mother in 1960. Despite her continued devotion to her family, which eventually included four children, Mrs. Schmitz never stopped being active in the community. The theater was always her particular joy, and she participated in community and professional theater throughout the St. Louis area. She was especially passionate about the encouragement of African-American theater, and worked with many local African-American theater groups. In addition she never forgot her bonds to Bryn Mawr, and continued to be an enthusiastic alumna, even serving a term on the Bryn Mawr College Board of Trustees from 1976 to 1982. In the late 1970s, Elsie was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis. Although increasingly disabled by her illness over the years, she continued to be supporter of the theater and a lover of all the arts. She wrote poetry, acted in plays, and fostered many young artists. Together with her husband, who had become a prominent St. Louis attorney, she became a regular attendee and supporter of many area artistic companies. In 1977 she converted to Judaism, and joined the congregation of Temple Emmanuel. Following her husband's death in 1999, Mrs. Schmitz sold the family house in Clayton. At her final residence at Sunrise Assisted Living, she was a well-known and beloved presence. Despite the considerable medical challenges she faced, her disposition remained optimistic, her determination remained undiminished, and her open-hearted graciousness won many friends and admirers. Mrs. Schmitz is survived by her four children: Thomas Schmitz of Oakland, California, Peter Schmitz of Narberth, Pennsylvania, Mary Santen of University City, Missouri and David Schmitz of St. Ann, Missouri. She had four grandchildren. She is also survived by her sister, Mrs. Mary Louise Maroney of Charlottesville, Virginia.Services: There will be a memorial service held by her family at the Main Stage of the The Grandel Theatre at 3610 Grandel Sq. in St. Louis on Monday, June 16th at 1 p.m. A reception will follow. The family has requested that those who wish to make any donations in her memory should send them to the Multiple Sclerosis Society or to Bryn Mawr College.
Published in St. Louis Post-Dispatch from May 18 to May 19, 2008