ONEONTA — Geri Mae Asp Scheele, 86, passed away Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, during convalescence at Fox Nursing Home &d Rehabilitation Center from a late October fall.
She was a resident for the past 10 years at The Plains at Parish Homestead, and had lived for 45 years before on Irving Place. Gerri was born on Sept. 19, 1933, in Holdrege, Neb., to Esther Marilla Jenkins Asp and Everett Eugene Asp, the third of four children.
She graduated from high school in Holdrege in 1951. Gerri was an excellent student and earned a scholarship to attend Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln. She had worked part-time as a shoe salesperson while in high school and found a similar position to assist with her finances while a college student in Lincoln.
It was there that she met her future husband, Paul E. Scheele. She earned a teaching certificate from NWU in 1953 and began teaching elementary school in Hastings, Neb., that fall. In August a year later, she married Paul Scheele and worked as a clerk typist for a Lincoln insurance firm while her husband finished his undergraduate degree.
In 1955, Gerri, her husband and their baby, Carla, traveled to Augusta, Ga., where he began a two-year stint in the military. Gerri taught at a nursery school at Camp Gordon during this period and also took art and crafts classes there.
A gifted artist, maker, educator and organizer, Gerri pursued her passion for painting and later for ceramic sculpture, throughout her life. She read voraciously, loved music, theater, dance, and all of the fine arts, followed current affairs avidly and was a master gardener and home decorator.
As a young mother of three small children, she worked in the advertising department of a large Lincoln department store, Gold’s. In a short period of time she became managing director of the department, producing full page fashion ads with illustrations, along with other display ads for the store.
Gerri moved with her family from Lincoln to Oneonta in 1964, where she became a fully engaged and active resident for the remainder of her life. She worked in advertising at Bresee’s Department Store, and later at The Daily Star, sewed fashion-forward outfits for herself and her daughters (and taught sewing to Girl Scouts and 4-H’ers), played tennis in Wilber Park, hiked locally and in the Catskills and the Adirondacks (as a dedicated member of ADK, Adirondack Mountain Club), cultivated her award-winning gardens (she was a member of the Oneonta Garden Club), and took classes and received a B.A. at SUNY Oneonta.
Though engaged deeply in these activities, she found her true voice creating ceramic works of stunning originality and authenticity as well as landscape paintings. Her works were exhibited in area galleries and in NYC. She taught art to children in an Oneonta Recreation Department program and was a founding member in 1970 of the Upper Catskill Community Council on the Arts (UCCCA), which evolved into the current organization, Community Arts Network of Oneonta (CANO). In 2008, a retrospective of her work was presented in an exhibit at the galleries at Wilber Mansion. She inculcated a love of art, the natural world and creating and making art and craft in her three daughters.
In later years, she worked at Yager Museum of Art and Culture at Hartwick College as a program officer, at The Farmers’ Museum and Fenimore Art Museum, particularly with the Thaw Collection of American Indian Art, in Cooperstown, as a museum educator.
She is survived by her daughters, Carla Scheele (Harold Augenbraum), Christie Scheele (Jack Morelli), and Karin Scheele (Bruce Lenkei); five grandchildren, Audrey, Tessa, Tony, Alison and Emily; sister, Beverly Dierberger of Garland, Nebreska; a sister-in-law, Doris Asp of Holdrege, Nebreska; and nine nieces and nephews.
She was predeceased by her mother, Esther; her father, Everett; a brother, Dean Asp and another brother, Wilson Asp.
A celebration of her life is planned with details to follow.
Donations in her name may be made to CANO, www.canoneonta.org/, or Adirondack Mountain Club, adk.org.
Condolences may be shared with the family at www.lhpfuneralhome.com.
The Lewis, Hurley & Pietrobono Funeral Home in Oneonta is assisting the family.