HERMITAGE, Pennsylvania – Mary Schumacher, 88, passed away on Friday, February 23, 2018 of pancreatic cancer.
She was born to Johann “Janos” and Rosalia (Sendelbach) Sonntag in the village of Bogdanovci, Croatia.
She was famous throughout the Shenango Valley for her pastry cooking especially her strudels which she would make with quick bird-like movements. In the Kuharska Skola in the Refugee Camp Asten in Austria after WW II, she learned Viennese pastry baking to add to the skills taught her by her mother, who had been a cook for the Hideghethy family, owners of the large Tresnja Pustara estate near Vukovar. A perfectionist, she could put together ornate desserts in an eyeblink, each component exactly like the other. Her father was a master wheelwright and musician.
Her life was characterized by adaptation, as the old way of living was destroyed by World War II. Along with her family, she became a refugee, fleeing to Austria and living in Refugee Camp #121 Haid until emigrating to the U.S. In 1956. Then she learned her third language, English, after her native tongues of Croatian and German. It was in the camp that she met the love of her life, her future husband Martin Schumacher, a refugee from Zemun, Serbia. They were married on July 4, 1948. The pair loved dancing and were fated to polka together for nearly 60 years.
In the Shenango Valley, she found a new community at St. Anthony’s Croatian Catholic Church, of which she was a devout member and tireless worker. If not for her passing, she would be making palacinka right now for the church’s annual Lenten fish fries. She was part of the exodus of German multilingual, multicultural settlers known as Donauschwaben who had lived in the Balkans for two centuries, many of whom were also members of St. Anthony’s and helped revitalize the Apollo Maennerchor Club in Sharon, where she could dance her heart out.
She was a strong, active woman who could often be seen walking briskly along Sample Rd. in Hermitage in her neon green vest. She was most proud of her five boys, who she never tired of talking about.
Mary is survived by her five sons, Friedrich “Fred” (Leah Rogne), Gheen, Minnesota; Helmut (Jean English), Hermitage, Pennsylvania; Eddy (Sheila Rimko), Greeley, Colorado; Walter (Martha), Bronson, Michigan and Victor (Constance), Brookfield, Ohio; five grandchildren, Janos Rogne Schumacher (Beth), Burnsville, Minnesota; Carolyn Schumacher, Wheatland, Pennsylvania; Leslie Rogne Schumacher (Kaja Tally-Schumacher), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Walter Schumacher, West Mansfield, Ohio and Renee Schumacher, Kalamazoo, Michigan; two great-grandchildren, Amara and Sonja Schumacher, Burnsville, Minnesota; her sister, Olga Pujic, Hermitage, Pennsylvania; her uncle, Steve Sendelbach, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin; her aunt, Margita Scherer, Rastatt, Germany; her nieces, Anita Kerlek, West Middlesex, Pennsylvania and Andrea Bogdan, San Diego, California; her nephews, Robert Schumacher, Oslo, Norway and Christian Schumacher, Washington, D.C.; her great-niece, Melissa Malito, Girard, Ohio; great-nephews, Paul Dzaja and Josh Kerlek, Hermitage, Pennsylvania and Brett Kerlek, Sharon, Pennsylvnania and many great-great-nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Martin; her parents, Johann and Rosalia Sonntag and her niece, Melita Dzaja.
Calling hours will be from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 27, 2018, in J. Bradley McGonigle Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc., 1090 E. State Street, Sharon.
Mass of Christian Burial will be 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, February 28, 2018, in St. Anthony’s Church, Sharon, with Rev. Matthew Ruyechan, pastor, as celebrant.
Interment will be in Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cemetery, Hermitage.
Memorial contributions can be made to the American Cancer Society.
Arrangements handled by J. Bradley McGonigle Funeral Home and Crematory, Inc.