Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Genevieve E. Hilmer, arts philanthropist

By Rebecca Goodman
The Cincinnati Enquirer

INDIAN HILL - Genevieve E. Hilmer, supporter of the arts and education, died Friday at Hospice of Cincinnati in Blue Ash following a stroke. The Indian Hill resident was 73.

"Genny Hilmer cared deeply about her community - especially the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati Opera and Seven Hills School," said Phillip Long, Taft museum director.

Mrs. Hilmer was not only a financial supporter of the Taft but an early docent.

In the past four years, she underwrote the Cincinnati Opera productions of Aida, Madame Butterfly, Romeo et Juliette and Turandot, according to Patricia K. Beggs, managing director of the opera.

"Genny was a role model for all of us," Beggs said. "She embraced life with an optimism that positively affected everyone in her orbit. Her passion for the opera was manifested in personal and significant ways: arranging flowers for opening nights, underwriting the productions of her favorite operas, treating artists to lunch and her warm hospitality. And her philanthropy was so selfless."

"Four afternoons every summer you could find Genny Hilmer backstage of Music Hall with children and/or grandchildren in tow, and a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks nearby, preparing the rosebuds given to each artist on opening night and arranging flowers for the Green Room," said her son, Paul A. "Gus" Stuhlreyer III of Atlanta and Norfolk, Va.

Stuhlreyer is former managing director of the Cincinnati Opera.

"I will never forget when Mom came down to the opera to help us de-thorn some 3,000 rosebuds because we thought it would be a good idea to pin one on each of our subscriber's seats,'' he said. "Without her we would have been in over our heads on that one."

"Whether it was my games, my brother's or those of her grandchildren, you could usually find her in the stands or on the sidelines," said her daughter, Sarah S. "Sally" Leyman of Hyde Park.

She was a graduate of Hillsdale School (now Seven Hills School) and attended Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Mrs. Hilmer was preceded in death by her husband, Otto L. Hilmer, in 1997.

In addition to her son and daughter, survivors include a sister, Carolyn Edwards Bartels of Tolland, Mass.; two stepsons, James L. Hilmer of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and Stephen J. Hilmer of Indian Hill; five grandchildren; and six stepgrandchildren.

A memorial service is 11 a.m. Wednesday at Indian Hill Church, 6000 Drake Road. A private burial will be at Spring Grove Cemetery.

Memorials: Cincinnati Opera, Music Hall, 1241 Elm St., Cincinnati 45210-2291; Taft Museum, 316 Pike Street, Cincinnati 45202; Seven Hills School, 5400 Red Bank Road, Cincinnati 45227; or Hospice of Cincinnati, 4310 Cooper Road, Cincinnati 45224.


E-mail rgoodman@enquirer.com

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