Schmitz to compete in senior pageant

BY JILL KASSANDER, SPECIAL TO THE JEWISH LIGHT

Sandra Schmitz will be part of a select group of 12 contestants competing in the 2008 Ms. Missouri Senior America Pageant. The event takes place at 4 p.m., on Saturday, July 12 at the Florissant Civic Center Theatre. The state winner will compete in the national pageant being held in Atlantic City in October.

The national competition provides an opportunity for women age 60 and over to showcase their talents and inner beauty. Participants in the pageant become eligible to be part of the Cameo Club. The organization sponsors the contest and performs shows for charitable institutions throughout the year.

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Schmitz found out about the organization and the pageant at a luncheon where she met a member of the Cameo Club. She was persuaded to participate in the pageant — especially when members learned of her talent on the piano.

“I have been taking piano lessons since I was eight years old and throughout most of my adult life,” Schmitz said. “I have been taking lessons from Dr. Chiann-Yi Yawitz for three years. I play strictly classical music.”

She will be playing a Debussy prelude called The Minstrel for the talent portion of the three-part pageant competition. There is also an evening gown competition and a speech on the contestant’s philosophy of life.

“The speech can only be 35 seconds long,” Schmitz said. “I have been timing mine and will need to pare it down a bit.”

Schmitz was raised in Philadelphia and went to Temple University where she majored in business and administration. She moved to Corpus Christi, Tex., to take a job with the Department of Defense and worked there for 15 years.

“I won an internship in computer science through the Department of Defense which brought me to St. Louis,” Schmitz said.

She worked as a computer specialist for 10 years and enjoyed the diverse work experiences including training at the White Sands missile range in New Mexico. Now she is happily enjoying retirement.

“I like to garden and country cook,” Schmitz said. “I play cards — canasta — and I am taking bridge lessons. I also play mah jongg once a week with my Jewish pals.”

But Schmitz’s first love is her volunteer work. It is the most gratifying thing she does, said Schmitz. She has been volunteering for five years with OASIS intergenerational tutoring program.

“It’s my favorite thing to do during the school year,” Schmitz said. “I also lead a once-a-month discussion group at Covenant House.”

Schmitz has three grown children and seven grandchildren. She and her husband Frank are celebrating their 15th wedding anniversary. They recently returned from a three-week river cruise from Amsterdam to Switzerland.

Schmitz is excited about being in the competition and being able to volunteer through the Cameo Club.

“I like the idea of associating with women who are also musically oriented and community service minded,” Schmitz said. “Being able to perform with the Cameo Club is another way for me to be able to volunteer by performing for retirement centers, nursing homes, hospitals and other charitable organizations.”