“A RENAISSANCE WOMAN” – “A highly cultivated man (or woman) who is skilled and well versed in many fields of knowledge, work, etc., as in the arts and sciences” – Websters New World College Dictionary”
She was a Renaissance woman
if ever there was one; beautiful,
blond-hair and blue eyes–she could
have been royalty–she carried herself
with regal ease.
Her father was enchanted with her tiny
features and winsome ways. “She’s just
a little doll” he said. “We can call her
Dolly” and so they did.
She took classes once her children were
grown–her specialty was art–oils, charcoal,
she could draw or paint–whatever captivated
She wanted to be able to cook the dishes and
desserts that her mother-in-law (my grandmother)
created; None of those recipes were written down
anywhere; they were all in Grandma’s head.
So, in order to learn, Aunt Dolly–a teenager
at the time–stood at Grandma’s elbow every time
she set out to cook or bake–until the knew them all.
Aunt Dolly became our link between
a grandmother who passed away too soon–
but left behind a legacy of recipes that my
aunt was now skilled at preparing.
I hardly knew Aunt Dolly when I was growing up and
had moved to California when I was twenty-one, – but
I came to appreciate her wit, talent, creativity and
enormous vitality–along with her wonderful gentle laughter’
When I became an adult and my children were grown,
I was able to visit my aunt & uncle’s home on North
Bend Road many times, often with my sister, Becky,
other times with my brother, Bill, and a few times
on my own. (We all adored their home!)
She was the kind of aunt you wanted to have
all to yourself. I think my siblings and I appreciated
Aunt Dolly more than anyone else and my brothers
(and nephew, Barry) loved to tease her to get her to giggle.
When Aunt Dolly was recuperating from spinal
surgery in 2005, I was able to go “take care” of
her for a couple of weeks–and some years later,
in 2012, I was able to go again to her home in
Port Orange, where she had been relocated,
and cook and bake for her. My visit to Florida
in July, 2012 would be the last time I had the
opportunity to spend with this one-of-a-kind
aunt. By now, I was the cook and I enjoyed
cooking and baking for her.
Throughout my house there are some of
my aunt’s paintings (she was a spectacularly
gifted artist) which I love but the one that I love
the most is a painting of my paternal grand-
mother, Susanna Gengler Schmidt, that Aunt
Dolly copied from an old professional
photograph of my grandmother at a young age.
We think Grandma might have been about
25 or 26 years old at the time that photograph
As I was preparing to return to California
in 2005 after my two week visit, my aunt
asked me if I liked that painting of my grandmother.
I replied. ” I love it–it’s one of your best paintings”
Aunt Dolly then asked if I would like to have it.
Like my aunt, the painting of Grandma Schmidt is one of a kind ;
it hangs over my fireplace in Quartz Hill.
My aunt also painted many different lighthouse related
-featuring- small- children canvasses. At one time, Aunt
Dolly would go to New York city with an assortment of her
paintings, to peddle her wares.
One time, when Becky and I were visiting our aunt,
we were out in her studio, admiring the many canvasses
and I said “Aunt Dolly, do you still go to New York
once a year to sell your paintings?”
My aunt giggled in a way only she could–her response?
“Oh, no, Sandy–now they come to me.”
There was one time when my aunt came to visit us
in California, and Bob & I took her north, to some
antique stores, but also to a huge park in Santa Barbara;
we couldn’t keep up with Auntie. She was a bundle
of energy and could outwalk any of us–while carrying
a gallon bottle of purified water!
There were so many other stories and events in my aunt
and uncle’s lives that would be impossible to do justice
without writing a book about them. To all of us they
were “Aunt Dolly and Uncle Hans” and dearly loved
by all of us–but I have often thought how much she
was “a Renaissance Woman”.
Aunt Dolly’s professional name was Evelyn Neumeister-
Schmidt -but to all the nieces and nephews she was
always just “Aunt Dolly”.
Aunt Dolly left this world to rejoin her husband, Hans, in January of 2013.
Sandra Lee smith
First compiled February 2015; updated July 24, 2018