This past week we said good-bye to a Schumm centenarian, a faithful servant of the church, a life-long member of the community, and a friend to many.
Velma Louise Schumm passed away 6 February 2016 at the Laurels of Shane Hill, near Rockford. She was 101 years old, the same age as my grandma Schumm when she passed away.
Velma was born 18 June 1914 near Rockford. She lived most of her life in the home where she grew up and spent her last few years at the Laurels of Shane Hill. She was a life-long member of Zion Lutheran Church, Schumm.
At the age of 101, Velma was one of several Schumm centenarians. But Velma was not the oldest in her family. Her sister Emma will be 105 this year.
Velma was the daughter of Phillip F.M. and Leona B. (Schumm) Schumm. She had three sisters: Marie, Emma, Anna Katharine.
Velma and I were third cousins once removed. We descend from different immigrant Schumm brothers, both sons of Johann Georg Schumm. Velma descended from Martin and Maria (Pflueger) Schumm, while I descend from Ludwig and Barbara (Pflueger) Schumm. The Schumm brothers married Pflueger sisters and therefore we also have common Pflueger ancestors.
Velma was baptized at Zion Schumm by Rev. George J. Meyer on 5 July 1914, with Mrs. Louisa Schinnerer and Erma Schumm as her sponsors. Velma was the baptismal sponsor for Wilma Louise Schumm in 1936 and Frieda Marie Roehm in 1947. She was a witness to the marriage of Erwin F. Fuelling to her sister Marie in 1939 and a witness to the marriage of Arthur Bischoff to her sister Anna Schumm in 1940.
Velma was an accomplished musician and started playing the organ at Zion Lutheran, Schumm, when she was about 16. She was Zion’s church organist for many decades, for 60-80 years, depending on who you talk to. My mom often mentioned that Velma played the organ for their wedding ceremony at Zion Schumm in 1950. She probably played the organ when I was baptized there a couple years later.
Yes, Velma loved music and she often attended our Christmas concerts at Zion Chatt. Her neighbors Tim and Vickie would usually bring her to the concert and I can still see her nodding her head, keeping time with the music. Velma and I discussed organ playing techniques on several occasions, talking in particular about using both feet, with heel and toe, to play.
Velma knew German and was able to read the Old German Script, something not many people around here can do. She helped me translate some of Zion Schumm’s records a few years ago. Velma was familiar with the names of those who attended Zion over the years, which was also very helpful. We spent several Sunday afternoons going over the church records on her dining room table.
Velma also had very nice handwriting and meticulously labeled nearly all of her photos. What a treasure to find photos that are labeled on the back!
One Sunday afternoon, during the summer of 2002, I drove my mom and Velma to Fort Wayne to attend the Pflueger reunion, for the descendants of Michael Pflueger. We had never attended a Pflueger reunion but were invited because we all had common Pflueger ancestors. Even though we had never met this side of the family we soon learned that we knew several people in common. We all enjoyed visiting and sharing information with our Pflueger cousins that afternoon. On our way home from Fort Wayne that day I learned that Velma liked to sing, too. The three of us sang some of our favorite hymns together on the car ride home.
Velma always attended the Schumm reunion, where she would usually accompany the Schumm Singers on a portable keyboard. She was there at the last Schumm reunion, held in August 2014. At 100 years young, she joined the Schumm Singers that year.
Velma was also interested in history and I would see her at meetings of the Shanes Crossing Historical Society in Rockford.
Unfortunately Velma had to cease many of these activities because of her failing eyesight.
Eventually Velma moved to the Laurels of Shane Hill a few years ago. I attended her 100th birthday celebration in 2014, held at the Laurels.
Joe and I went to her estate sale a couple years ago and we purchased a few items that I will always cherish as Velma’s. Some of the items I purchased: a small Nativity, a southwestern vase, a copper candy dish, a large box of postcards and miscellaneous papers, a cross necklace, some of her sheet music, the travel map she used for a western trip, a granite chamber pot, and an old Cracker Jack toy top.
Here is a link to Velma’s obituary.
May you Rest in Peace, Velma.