For our third Resident Spotlight, Community Relations Manage Kate and I go to our Lake in the Hills home where Winnie was generous enough to lend her time for an interview. Looking sharp in her favorite pearl necklace, Winnie, along with one of her daughters Diane, joined Kate and I for a light-hearted discussion about her life.
Talented Singer and Inspiring Icon
Q: Tell us a bit about your family history?
Winnie’s mother and father knew each other in Germany before immigrating to the United States. After WWI they settled in Columbus, Ohio to raise a family. Winnie’s father was a butcher by trade and worked at a meat packing plant. Winnie’s favorite thing her father cooked was his brisket. Winnie’s mother dedicated her time to raising Winnie and her two siblings. She saved all the letters from her family overseas, and it is through these capsules that Winnie learned to read German.
Q: Growing up, what did you like to do in school and for leisure?
In school Winnie’s favorite subject was mathematics for which she displayed a natural talent. This expertise led her to a job as an accountant at The Green Cab Company, all while simultaneously finishing her schooling at night.
For fun, Winnie remembers rollerskating with her friends. She also enjoyed swimming, and she distinctly remembers a small river where afterwards, “You could have picnic lunches. You brought your lunch and you stayed all day.”
Q: When did you meet your husband? When did you have your children?
Winnie met Ervin, nicknamed Buss to everyone who knew him, on a blind date. The picture below shows them at a military ball they attended together. One of the activities Winnie and Buss enjoyed doing together was fishing. Winnie's favorite thing to catch were blue gills. As she recounted her and Buss's fishing trips, Diane laughed “Well you always caught more fish than Dad. She was a really good fisherman…the fish just came to her.” Buss was always so proud of her talent and would brag to the kids about it.
Winnie and Buss had two daughters, Karen and Diane and two twin boys, John and Jefferey. I asked Winnie if she wanted to take a moment to tell any funny and embarrassing stories about her children. Winnie decreed she was never embarrassed by her children and they were not trouble makers.
Q: We've heard you have quite a love for singing, could you tell us a little more about that?
Winnie told us how “I always wanted to go to New York to study music and a friend of mine and I went [for] two years… She wanted to sing on Broadway and I wanted to sing in the opera." Winnie trained under a former opera singer for the Metropolitan Opera. She then went on to form The Four DeLovlies with her friend and two other women from New York. At night The DeLovlies wore their favorite blue dress and sang together at convention centers and nightclubs. Out of all the cities they traveled to up and down the East Coast, Pittsburg was Winnie's favorite. After Winnie moved back to the Midwest to raise her family, she continued to sing in church.
Q: What sorts of hobbies have you had throughout your life?
Winnie has always enjoyed both cooking and baking. She made sure to copy down all of her cherished recipes from her mother's book. Her favorite thing to cook is sauerbraten, a recipe that is “marinated for three days, and then you cook it like a roast.” In turn she has passed down her skills to Karen and Diane. After her kids had grown, Winnie decided to take up golf with several friends.
Q: Do you have any favorite movies or books?
We asked Winnie if she had any movie stars she admired. When Kate suggested Rock Hudson, Winnie turned to her with a twinkle in her eye, “You’re not going back far enough - Gene Autry, we all liked seeing him. The other one was Shirley Temple.” She then reminisced “us young kids could get in for ten cents on Saturday.”
Winnie loves to read and you can often find her at The Heathers cozied up with a good mystery. However her favorite book is Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell. “It’s probably the best book I’ve ever read,” to which Kate noted she didn’t think she’d ever actually encountered someone who read it. Diane emphasized Winnie’s love of reading by posing, “Can you ever imagine reading more than one book [and] being able to sort everything? Do you know anyone who can read five separate books and keep all the plots straight?"
Q: Do you have any advice you'd like our readers to know?
Winnie thought about it and decided, “I had a very good life and a good home and good kids and a good marriage." Really, what more can you ask for than that.
We loved getting to meet with Winnie and Diane. Winnie ended our interview with a big hug and smile. When it comes to Winnie, I think one of our other LITH residents who was walking by said it best. Peering in, she exclaimed, "Winnie is my best friend- I want to be just like her when I grow up!"