Mitzi Stories

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Roller Coaster from Bernie Engelhard - High School Friend
One of my most vivid memories of Mitzi was when we went with a group of friends to Coney Island.  We were teenagers at the time.  Both Mitzi and I really enjoyed riding on roller coasters so it was a “no brainer” that we were drawn like a magnet to a very large and fast roller coaster at the park.  The first part of the ride went well and was rather tame and then all of a sudden the cars dived down a very steep incline with no advance notice.  Although there was a bar that theoretically held us in the car it managed to pop up and Mitzi began to fly out of the car.  I quickly grabbed her by the midsection with both arms and pulled her back into the car.  From that day forward I frequently and kiddingly reminded her that I had saved her life.

Golden Gate Bridge from Elinor Engelhard- High School Friend
I met Mitzi when we were both 20 years old when I started to date Bernie.  We often saw Mitzi over the years and I remember once going on a mini-adventure with Mitzi.  It was during one of our get-togethers with Bernie and Mitzi’s high school friends a few years ago in San Francisco.  A few of us decided to walk across the Golden Gate Bridge and Mitzi and I were buddies as we walked all the way across the bridge, stopping once in a while to enjoy the view, but mostly just walking and talking together.  Talking to Mitzi has always been very easy for me.  We celebrated completing the bridge walk together but it ’s really the journey itself that was special to me.

Brenda Difiore - High School Friend
Here was a “interesting” moment in time. I bet you were not aware that Mitzi drove my mother’s Corvair!

This is how it  unfolded:  We were all getting our licenses on our 17th birthdays.  I was excited to be able to  drive. My parents went away for the weekend, and I had the keys to Mom’s Chevy Corvair. Dangerous situation! A couple of my friends, including Mitzi were in the car riding with me. I brilliantly decided to let Mitzi try to drive, just to see how she would do. I remember being on a back street kind of desolate.  She got behind the wheel and drove about 20 feet before she landed on someone’s lawn.  We thought it was hysterical, but decided she better not drive anymore.  We were lucky we didn’t get in an accident.  But I’m sure that was Mitzi’s first and last time behind the wheel!

Memories of Mitzi: from Cousin Sylvia Garry
My cousin Mitzi and I were the same age and grew up together. We had many adventures. When we were in High School we persuaded our parents to let us have a locker at the local pool on the Ocean. Mitzi loved the beach and she loved to body surf. She had no fear of the water. She really enjoyed herself. Mitzi had a lot of friends was liked by all, and loved everyone. She fit into any group. Mitzi loved her family and her Aunts, Uncles and Cousins and many, many friends. So fun to be around and I never heard her say anything unkind about anyone.

Bob Proctor remembers Mitzi
Mitzi was a fighter. She had two older brothers and one younger brother. Her poor eyesight issues started at an early age. She had to stand close to the TV and fight off her brothers who also wanted to watch.

Mitzi’s entire family loved sports. Mitzi was very fond of watching sports and knew all the football teams and many of the players. She ran a Football Pool at her work at Hudson River Psychiatric Hospital in Poughkeepsie, NY. She was on the “A-Team”, a girls softball team. She followed baseball and loved the NY Mets. She was involved in the Pop Warner Football league while Rob was in grade-school and Roosevelt High School Football.

Mitzi did not like winters in the north. She was unhappy to leave our nice house in Hyde Park, NY and head to Burlington, VT. One condition to the move was to get a big Hot Tub immediately. We did that and used it almost daily for many years.

Mitzi started using computer bulletin boards before we moved to Vermont. I moved to Vermont first and she stayed in Hyde Park for a half year trying to sell our house before joining me. One condition for letting me go was that she had to have her own computer! I didn’t know who she was chatting with but she found a bunch of Jimmy Buffett fans and became very good friends with many. She started liking music by Jimmy Buffett, John Prine and Steve Goodman at that time. We had yearly get-togethers in Key West, FL with the Jimmy Buffett people. Those likes and friendships continued the rest of her life.

In addition to having her own computer, Mitzi had her own Email address and Cell Phone.

While at a Jimmy Buffett event in Burlington, VT we met some Buffett Fans who became very good friends, showed us how to winter in Florida, and helped us with our new RV.

Mitzi had eyesight problems which started very early in life. She was blind in one eye. This handicap didn’t stop her from going to college, getting a Masters Degree in Social Work, holding a job in a Psychiatric Hospital, reading many hundreds of books and living a normal life.

Mitzi had problems walking on snow and ice in Vermont and would slip and fall. We had visited friends in Florida a number of timed and although she liked Florida, I no particular attraction. One cold winter day she told me “I don’t know where you will be spending next winter, but I’m telling you where I’ll be.” That got me thinking and shortly after that we had a plan. We purchased a 5th Wheel RV and reserved a place in a RV park in Kissimmee, FL. We also reserved a spot in a Vermont campground. We spent 4 winters in Kissimmee and kept the RV in the Vermont Campground for 5 summers. We then bought a house in the same Kissimmee park and moved down.

Mitzi was always a free spirit and wanted to control her own life. She didn’t like people telling her what to do. She was passionate about her politics and loved to watch the Sunday Morning News shows and late night talk shows which had a “Democratic Slant.” Look out when a friendly conversation swung political: Mitzi was ready to fight for what she believed in.

Mitzi loved to play with her grand children and she didn’t want to have them see her when she was sick.

Mitzi was always very close to her family including her mother, father, brothers and our son and his kids, plus many others. The phone was well used!

While Mitzi was fighting cancer in the 3-yrs 10-months after diagnosis, she was had well over 200 trips Kissimmee to Tampa, was admitted to 4 hospitals, had over 7 kinds of Chemo and was a patient of many doctors. She was a fighter!

Buddy Tomaini remembers Mitzi
I will always treasure the memories of my sister Mitzi, particularly her dedication to the family when I was growing up. Mitzi played an integral role in the lives of three siblings growing up on the New Jersey coast. Mitzi and I were the odd balls out, I was the youngest and she was the only female. With our parents divorced and my mother needing to working two jobs, Mitzi stepped up to the plate and became the “Woman of the House” at a very young age. She cooked, cleaned, washed and ironed clothes for all of us. Back then she had to hand wash the clothes on a wash board and hang them outside to dry. This was not an easy task considering that she had three brothers to take care of. Even though these tasks were very time intensive and demanding, she managed to earn outstanding grades and was very popular. I would like to take this time to apologize to my sister for being such a snot nosed, rotten little brother. More importantly, I want to thank Mitzi for her unwavering selflessness and everything that she has done for me throughout my life. She was my big sister and I am unbelievably proud of her.

Haley Proctor, 10 years old, remembers her Grandmommy
This is all about my Grandmommy and all the great things that she did for me. She was such a great person, I am gonna miss her so much.
She would come to watch me dance every single recital.
She would come every Christmas to give us presents and to help us make cookies.
She always gave me great presents for my birthday and for Christmas.
She played American Girl with me.
She made the best spaghetti and meatballs.
Every time I would go see her she would give me a great big hug and kiss.
She didn’t want to die because she didn’t want me to be upset.
She really cared about me.
She liked to watch me dance.
She would always get me roses after a performance.
She always played with me. She made the best chocolate chip cookies.
She always made me happy.
She thought I was beautiful.
She bragged about me to all of her friends.
She knew me the best.
She made me feel better when I was sad.
She liked talking to me.
She inspired me.
She was a big part of my world.
She was always kind to me.
She thought I could do many great things.
These are all the great things my Grandma did for me. I am so glad a great person like her could be in my life.

Haley Proctor


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