Constance Schenk died in Columbia on Friday, September 13, 2013, but she would not have held that date accountable. Her life was mostly a happy one.
A memorial service at Calvary Episcopal Church will be scheduled for a later date.
Connie was born on January 6, 1928, in Buffalo, New York, “in the middle of a blizzard,” she always claimed. Her father was Conrad (Connie) Schenk, whom her mother, Averil Thomas, always referred to as “Connie.” To Averil the daughter was always “Constance,” “Constance Charlotte” for emphasis. Her parents moved west after Connie was born, and she grew up in Illinois – Centralia, Alton and Godfrey – near her Thomas grandparents, whom she adored.
Early on, Connie showed an aptitude for languages, at first inventing something she thought sounded like the Greek spoken by neighbors, later excelling in Latin, French, Spanish and Italian. She graduated with an associate's degree from Stephens College and with bachelor's and master's degrees in French from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. She held jobs as a secretary/translator with the Belgian Consulate, Rice, Stix & Co., Monsanto in St. Louis and with an import/export corporation in El Salvador.
She taught Spanish for several years at Western Military Academy in Alton, but in 1970, joined the foreign language department at Stephens where she taught for the next twenty-five years. At Stephens she was recognized as a master teacher; she directed the Oxford/Cambridge program memorable to numerous students who enjoyed a year’s study at either Homerton College, Cambridge, or in a tutorial program at Oxford. She herself had enjoyed many summers studying Spanish in both Mexico and Spain, and during her teaching years she arranged programs for students who wanted to study Spanish in one of those settings.
Connie loved cooking and clothes and cats; performing and public speaking; all kinds of entertaining; teaching and travel. She and Averil traveled together to all fifty states and to Mexico, Britain, Scotland, Ireland, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy and Scandinavia many times, and with various friends, Connie traveled elsewhere — Japan, China, Turkey and Greece. She was a long time member of DAR and AAUW, and for many years she was an active member of Kings Daughters and the Women’s Symphony League. She grew up Presbyterian but in later years joined Calvary Episcopal Church. Connie was a loyal and faithful friend — kept up with people who belonged to all parts of her life — corresponded with them, visited them, joined them for various outings and trips.
Connie was a joyful person. She enjoyed good fun more than politics or philosophy, preferring always to “talk about something pleasant.” She liked to dress up and make grand entrances, usually late ones — our own Mad Hatter, “La Ultima.” She was a person who lived in the moment, savored and devoured it, until the last few years when a deepening dementia assailed her. Now her friends put that Connie aside and remember the Connie they knew — warm and high-spirited, kind and forgiving, a generous and loving spirit, a dear friend.
Memorials may be made to the Stephens College Endowment Fund, Calvary Episcopal Church or the charity of your choice.
Online condolences can be left at www.parkerfuneralservice.com.