The Eulogy for Grace Custer Schlosshauer


The Eulogy for Grace Schlosshauer

(April 28, 1928 – February 22, 2018)

Grace was born on April 28th, 1928 in West Virginia where she spent the earliest years of her life.  She had a little sister Marie who was born four years after Grace with whom she would always be very close.  There is evidence that the family were descendants of General George Custer.

At some point the family moved to Bradford, Pennsylvania before moving once again just in time for Grace’s senior year of High School in Hill Side – the very same school in which her father was the new principal – making the transition doubly awkward for Grace who always tended to be on the shy side

Her family became members at Franklin Memorial Chapel which had a youth group that had shared activities with the youth group of the Methodist Church in Maplewood.  It was there that a young man of the same age as Grace named Fred Schlosshauer first laid eyes on her.  She was one of three girls dressed up as cowgirls singing in a minstrel show, a remarkable thing considering how little Grace cared for being in the spotlight.   It is said that opposites attract, since Fred has always enjoyed performing as a magician and a clown to bring a smile to peoples’ faces.  Gazing upon the pretty singing cowgirl, Fred knew right then and there that he would one day marry that girl.

It wasn’t until sometime later that Fred actually got to talk to Grace.  On a youth work project in the church building they were assigned the job of painting a radiator together.  In our imaginations it isn’t hard to picture Fred charming Grace with a series of corny jokes.

Apparently there had been another boy in the picture for Grace but along with his comic charm Fred also had the advantage of being able to drive.   Soon Grace and Fred were going out on dates together.  The youth group provided plenty of opportunities to do fun things together, including skiing at South Mountain ReservationApparently it was quite a youth group.  Doris and Tom Bradley were also in that same youth group, and in fact Fred, Doris and Tom were in a play together, “The Importance of Being Ernest.”

Grace graduated from Hillside High School in 1946. Grace took a job with Prudential Insurance in Newark where she would work for several years.  Before she was through, Grace had worked her way up to supervisor with six young women working under her.   (Having Grace for a boss – how good was that?)

After graduating from high school Fred took a job first at Kreske’s Department Store and then later at Atllas Supply company.  Somewhere along the way Fred proposed to Grace while driving her home from a church function and she happily accepted to be his bride.

With the Korean War underway, Fred enlisted in the army in 1951 where he was stationed for the first year in Fort Dix.  Because Fred had learned how to type in high school, he was assigned to work in army intelligence.  Fred and Grace only got to see each other when Fred would drive up north when his was on leave.

 A year into his two year commitment Fred and Grace got married in January of 1952.  There wedding was held in Grace’s home church, with a reception afterwards held at the Moose Hall in Irvington where Fred’s father had a connection.   They spent their wedding night in New York City, followed by a honeymoon in Williamsburg, Virginia with a stop in Washington, DC.

Unfortunately, two months after their wedding Fred was told he would be shipped out to Korea.  Working for Army Intelligence kept Fred from being on the very front lines of lines of battle, but he wasn’t that far removed, with occasional North Korean shells landing in the vicinity. How Grace must have worried about Fred as he spent six months living with two army buddies in a cold bunker fending off rats, their only communication being through letters.

With the war winding down, Fred was finally returned to Fort Dix in 1953 and shortly thereafter honorably discharged after two years of service to his country.

Grace surprised Fred by driving down to Fort Dix to pick him up – a double surprise in that before Fred’s departure to Korea Grace hadn’t known how to drive.  Grace was a little disappointed, however to discover Fred had promised to give two of his army buddies rides to the airport, messing up her imagined romantic drive back to north Jersey with just the two of them.  Nonetheless, it was wonderful for Grace to have Fred home.

Soon afterwards Fred and Grace went with John, one of Fred’s army buddies and his wife Ruthie on a vacation trip to Florida. They stayed life long friends.

Grace and Fred rented a two family house in Elizabeth. Grace continued to work for Prudential while Fred found work as a die worker in Newark.

In 1955 Fred landed a job working with Prudential.  That same year Grace became pregnant with her first child.  She retired from Prudential in anticipation of becoming a full time housewife and mother.  In anticipation of raising a family,  Fred and Grace moved out of the city initially to an apartment above a barn in Mt. Tabor.  They lived there just eight months – long enough for Gary to be born – before moving to the house in Whippany that would be home for the rest of Grace’s life.

On December 1st, 1957 Grace and Fred became members in the Parsippany Methodist Church, which at that point in time met in the Little White Church on the Hill.  Within a year of joining the church, the original church was torn down to make room for Interstate 287.  A year later, Fred was given the position of church treasurer, a position he has held to the present day with a brief two year respite in the eighties.  Fred was instrumental in raising money for the new building.

Two years after Gary’s birth, Linda was born.  Fred had to race back from a Prudential convention when Linda decided to arrive early.

The church soon became the center of the family’s life.  This is a picture of Gary and Linda standing in front of the new church building from a promotional flier.

The family enjoyed the family nights.  Over the years Grace served as a Sunday School teacher, as well on various committees.  Fred and Grace were both very active in  a social group called The PUMAs, the Parsippany United Methodist Adults who had a lot of fun while serving on Scout dinners and working on behalf of the March of Dimes.   Grace was very active in the United Methodist Women where she took special pleasure making crafts for their bazaars.  For the United Methodist Women’s meetings Grace, Lois Kelshaw and Doris Bradley always did refreshments together.

While their kids were still in school, Grace and Doris started going to luncheons every month sponsored by the Christian Women of Morris County where they would meet up with Rev. Archie Parr’s wife Dottie, a fun tradition that carried on for over thirty years.

Grace was always Barbara Bradley’s biggest fan when it came to her musical talents.   Grace attended Barb’s High School plays and musicals, and later all her performances with the bell Labs/AT&T chorus and big band.  If Grace knew that Barb was singing, she would make every effort to there to support her.

Both Grace and Fred would sing for many years in Barbara’s choir.  Consequently, it was so good that Barb could sing here this morning.

Gary and Linda knew a lot of happiness growing up as a part of the Schlosshauer family. In the summertime there were block parties on the street where they lived.

Fred and Grace bought a camper in which the family would drive to Florida to visit Grace’s parents and her sister Marie who had moved down there.   They would stay in KOA campgrounds along the way.

On one such trip down they were camping in the Carolinas one night when they went to bed with what turned out to be a hurricane approaching.  Fred and Grace crammed into the car and let Gary and Linda spread out in the camper.  During the middle of the night Gary and Linda felt the camper lift up off the ground and sit back down, immediately after which they scrambled to join their parents in the cramped quarters of the car.  In the morning as they were driving out of the campground they saw that lots of other campers had been completely knocked over by the hurricane winds.

On another trip to Florida they took the autotrain.

The family made two trips together to Puerto Rico.

With Fred focused on supporting the family with his career at Prudential, it was Grace who shuttled Gary and Linda around to their various activities growing up including:  Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, youth group, band practices, gymnastics, field hockey, baseball, and ice skating.

Since Fred was highly successful as an insurance salesman, he won lots of trips as rewards for reaching his goals in sales.  Fred particularly enjoyed taking Grace along on these trips which included New York City, Boston, Chicago, two trips to New Orleans, which included complete re-enactments of Mardi Gras in their fancy hotel, a cruise to Bermuda from New York, a cruise to the Bahamas from Florida, a flight to St. Croix, and two trips to Hawaii.

How proud Grace was of her children.  And how she adored the grandchildren – Matt, Brent, and Beka — as they came along.  And how Grace adored here great grandsons – Abel and Mattox — when they came along.

And what delight Grace took in dogs!   Two times latter years I took my dogs with me to visit Grace, and how her face lit up.

Gary and Linda threw a party to celebrate their parents fiftieth wedding anniversary, Marie and her husband were able to come up from Florida.   After the party Gary and Linda sent  their parents on a cruise to Mexico.

Grace loved beauty.  Liked to look nice and pretty, and was sure to make sure Fred looked good too, trimming his hair went it got too long.  She loved gardenias.  She provided flowers on Mothers’ Day at the church so that every mother could have one.  She made an out of this world cheesecake that she taught her granddaughter Beka to make.

Hwa remembers her fondness for butterflies and the special muffins she would get at Wegmans whenever she visited Linda in Pennsylvania, and how she would always bring one back for Hwa.

And the family showed up to surprise Grace and when the church threw a surprise celebration to celebrate their fifty years of membership, in spite of the fact that Grace was a little uncomfortable with all the attention.

Grace didn’t like being up front and center.  She preferred being in the background.  Her love made it possibly for Fred to go forth and doing so many things in this world – to succeed in his career, be a leader in our church, entertain thousands as a magician and a clown.  He had the security of knowing that the love of his life was there to come home to.

Grace is remembered within our church for her sweet smile, her tender heart, her gentle love.  She always held the church in her heart in prayer.

The last couple of years were hard for Grace as her body lost its strength and it became harder and harder for her to go out.  For me, and I’m sure for others, it was deeply moving to see the tenderness with which Fred cared for his beloved Grace in this last stretch of her life.

At the rehab facility in Chester I remember Grace asking Fred for water, which he got up to bring to her to sip.  “Thanks,” said Grace.  “You don’t have to thank me,” said Fred.  “It’s in the contract.”

The contract being the covenant of marriage he and Grace had made sixty-six years earlier to love one another “till death to us part.”

Grace’s favorite Bible verse was 1John 4:7: “Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God.”  It is in loving one another that we honor Grace’s memory, for love is her legacy.