(December 10, 1911 – February 16, 2011)
Gwen M. Schambra, 99, of Midland, died at Stratford Village on February 16, 2011. Gwen was born on Dec. 10, 1911 in Cainsville, Missouri to the late Harry W. and Elvera (Ellis) Leister. On June 11, 1932 she married her sweetheart William P. Schambra, who predeceased her on Sept. 9, 1994. Gwen attended business schools in Royal Park, NJ and Elizabeth, NJ. She was a member of the Midland Reformed Church. Gwen spent her teen-age years in New Jersey, but when her mother fell ill, she came to be with her Aunt Gwen and Uncle Edward Burdick in Midland. She met her husband Bill, a chemical engineer with Dow Chemical, at a dance at the then-new Midland Country Club, where he subsequently proposed to her. For the next three decades, she cheerfully lived the demanding life of a chemical town pioneer, as her husband helped establish new Dow facilities at Kure Beach, North Carolina, and Freeport, Texas. Indeed, she helped build new communities there as well, while raising her family of three. Returning to Midland in 1961, she put in another half-century of faithful service as a good neighbor on St. Andrew’s Drive, and a regular worshipper at the Midland Reformed Church. She derived intense joy from the small gifts of life in Midland: a cardinal on her beloved bird feeder at dusk; fresh cherries and melons from the farmer’s market; languidly chatting with her neighbors in the backyard on a crisp summer evening; a single Tropicana rose from a friend’s garden. All who knew her learned as well to appreciate the modest, immediate pleasures of life. Gwen in survived by her daughter, Carolyn Elizabeth Schambra of Vancouver, WA; sons, Phillip (Doni) Schambra of Bethesda, MA, William (Sharon) Schambra of Alexandria, VA; 6 grandchildren; and many special friends. Gwen was predeceased by her brother Ellis Leister. A Funeral Service will be held at Midland Reformed Church on Monday, February 21, 2011 at 11:00 am with Pastor Mike DeRuyter officiating, Followed by an informal lunch. Smith-Miner Funeral Home is assisting the family. Those planning an expression of sympathy may wish to consider the Midland Reformed Church. Online condolences can be given at smithminer.com.