Carmita K. Schildhauer

[ Age 100 ] Worked as a volunteer and relished a snappy roller coaster ride.

At 93, Mrs. Schildhauer danced at a family wedding, but was vexed to find she could no longer Charleston.

April 06, 2007|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,sun reporter

Carmita K. "Car" Schildhauer, a homemaker and volunteer who enjoyed riding roller coasters into her 70s and sipping perfectly chilled martinis, died of heart failure Saturday at Pickersgill Retirement Community in Towson. She was 100.

Carmita Kennedy was born in Philadelphia and raised in Germantown, Pa. She attended Springside School in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Schildhauer was an athlete and horsewoman who played tennis until she broke an ankle in her late 60s, and rode with the Radnor Hunt in Pennsylvania.

One of her favorite stories was about the time she played tennis great Helen Wills at the Merion Cricket Club in Philadelphia in the early 1920s.

"She was kind to mother. She let her win one game in each set," said her daughter, Joan Schildhauer Ellis of Elizabeth City, N.C.

"That's what she did in those years. She played tennis and generally raised hell. She was a flapper, and I grew up hearing that when you are arrested in a speakeasy, never give your right name," Mrs. Ellis said, with a laugh.

"She was known as `Car' and when we were kids, we used to call her `Trolley Car' behind her back. We didn't think she knew, but she did," her daughter said.

She was married in 1929 to Clarence Henry "Dutch" Schildhauer, a 1919 Naval Academy graduate and famed aviator.

Mr. Schildhauer, an aviation executive who earlier had surveyed the international air routes for Pan American Airways across the Pacific, the Atlantic and throughout the Caribbean and Latin America, died in 1980.

The couple lived for many years at "Happy Landings," their Caves Road home in Owings Mills. Since 1999, she had lived at the Towson retirement home.

Mrs. Schildhauer's favorite roller coaster was the one at the old Willow Grove Amusement Park near Philadelphia.

"Her last ride was on the loop-to-loop at Hershey Park. She always wanted to be in the last car because that's were you got the most snap," said her granddaughter, Mita Vogel of Reisterstown.

One day in Ocean City while visiting the amusement pier with her grandchildren, Mrs. Schildhauer barged past a sign advising against riding the roller coaster if you were 65 or older or pregnant.

"She was sitting in the car and noticed an attendant looking at her gray hair. She said, `What, do you think I'm pregnant?' and when the ride was over, they rushed over to see if she was OK, and found her getting ready to go again," her daughter said.

"She had a great zest for life and a wicked sense of humor. She danced at her granddaughter's wedding seven years ago but was mad as hell that she could no longer do the Charleston," her daughter said.

She had been a volunteer at Happy Hills Convalescent Center and Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

Mrs. Schildhauer was a founder of the Girls' Martini Club, a group of friends that met monthly to enjoy a martini or two and conversation.

Mrs. Schildhauer was a communicant of St. Thomas Episcopal Church, 232 St. Thomas Lane, Owings Mills, where a memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday.

In addition to her daughter and granddaughter, Mrs. Schildhauer is survived by two other grandchildren; and two great-granddaughters. A son, C. Henry Schildhauer Jr., died in 1991.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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