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If there was a need, she would volunteer

Published June 30, 2006

OLD SEMINOLE HEIGHTS - When Ellenore Gomez-Schmeisser was in her 70s, she and her husband often entertained at area retirement centers and nursing homes.

"She'd say, 'I'm going to go dance for the old people,"' said her daughter, Mary Folsom. "But she was older than a lot of the people she was dancing for."

Mrs. Gomez-Schmeisser had been in failing health after falling at home in April. She died June 16 at age 90.

She led an active life, traveling the world, volunteering and taking part in dance competitions. Championship ribbons and medals covered the wall of her Old Seminole Heights home.

While at home, she spent a lot of time growing exotic plants in her back yard. A Tampa Tribune article described her yard as a "little piece of heaven."

"She worked until she 62," her daughter said. "And then she started all the fun stuff. The volunteer work, that was her fun."

She was born Ellenore Navara near Chicago, where she attended college and earned a business degree. She worked for a medical supply company during World War II and after work volunteered at a hospital treating wounded soldiers.

She and her first husband, John Schmeisser, came to Tampa in the early 1950s. He was a home builder who came to Florida to take advantage of the housing boom.

One of his first projects was his family's own home, on Clifton Street. The couple and their three children took a temporary house nearby while their home was under construction, then moved into the Clifton house where Mrs. Gomez-Schmeisser lived for more than 50 years.

She and her first husband often spent evenings at the local German-American Club, playing dominoes, dancing and socializing. He passed away in the 1950s, but she remained an active member of the club.

More than a decade after Schmeisser's death, she met her second husband, Philip Gomez, at a club function.

Mrs. Gomez-Schmeisser worked as a bookkeeper for several local companies, including Drew Tile and Raybro Electric.

Her second husband shared her passions for dancing, traveling and volunteer work. After retiring, they volunteered for many years for Meals on Wheels and put on ballroom dancing demonstrations at area senior centers. Together they won several dancing championships at the Senior Olympics in Sanford. He died 11 years ago.

She volunteered wherever she saw a need, her daughter said, and no job was too big or two small. She stuffed envelopes for a retirement home and served as spokeswoman for the German-American Club.

"She was all the time on the phone with the newspaper, trying to get publicity for the club," her daughter said.

At the time of her death, she was the oldest member of the German-American Club, both in terms of age and in number of years as a member.

She remained active and self-sufficient, even past her 90th birthday.

"She was just so cute that everyone wanted to adopt her," Folsom said. "I guess God missed her and wanted her to come home."

In addition to her daughter, Mary Folsom, Mrs. Gomez-Schmeisser is survived by another daughter, Kathy Springborn, her son, Martin Schmeisser, a sister, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

[Last modified June 29, 2006, 10:48:28]

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