Sunday, March 7, 2004

And a red-tailed hawk circled high over her gravesite

Old friends - and strangers who considered themselves friends - remembered Marge Schott on the day she was laid to rest

Members of Boy Scout Troop 281, from Anderson Township, arrive to pay their respects to Marge Schott, who in 1999 donated $1 million to the Dan Beard Boy Scout Council.
The Cincinnati Enquirer/GARY LANDERS

• First Lady: Sheldon "Chief" Bender, a long-time executive with the Reds who got his start with the organization in 1967, said Marge Schott got the last laugh on the politicians she loved to battle over the years. Schott died Tuesday - the Super Tuesday primary in Ohio and nine other states.

"She took something away from Election Day," Bender said. "I guess she picked out that day. She battled the politicians right to the end."

Bender said Schott deserves a title usually reserved for the country's highest office.

"I've been in Cincinnati for almost 40 years, and I don't know of anybody else who could have been called the First Lady of Cincinnati."

They all turned out to hail 'a great lady'
And a red-tailed hawk circled high over her gravesite
Players show up to honor 'a good woman'
Bronson: Marge reflected best and worst of Cincinnati
Radel: Cincinnati can learn a lot listening to Marge Schott

Homily for Marge Schott
Funeral photo gallery
Memorial Section

• Keep working on it, Honey: Doc Rodgers, former Reds assistant general manager, said Schott was more grandmother than boss. She attended Rodgers' wedding.

"Every day after that at the office, it was: 'Are you pregnant yet? Are you pregnant yet?' I'd say, 'Not yet,' and she'd say, 'Keep working on it, Honey.' "

• And a big hug: Developer Neil Bortz, whose Towne Properties started the development boom in Mount Adams 40 years ago, remembered Schott as a tough negotiator.

"The business side of Marge was a lot tougher, more complicated and more difficult to deal with," Bortz said. "She'd say horrible things about everybody, including me. Then it was: 'Aw, Honey,' and a big hug."

• Hard sell: Curtis Reese, of Bond Hill, bought his first Buick from Schott. "I told her I needed a new car and I didn't have much money," Reese said. "She went and got a salesman and said, 'Don't let him leave here without buying a new car.' Then she turned to me and said, 'Honey, you didn't hear that.'

"I walked out with a new car."

• A happy day: In June, Schott was invited to All Saints Catholic Church so teachers and students could thank her for a donation that allowed construction of a new parish center, named after Schott.

Father Dennis Jaspers said Schott deflected attention from herself.

"I went to the podium and received a bag containing a Schottzie ball cap," he said. "The students clapped and roared. That was a happy day."

• Knowing no strangers: A handful of people, most of whom had never met Schott, gathered back from the crowd at her burial site at Gate of Heaven Cemetery, under a 70-foot tall oak tree.

They came to watch, pay their respects and reminisce.

Roberto Rivera, 61, of Sycamore Township, used to run into Schott around town.

"She always talked to me, even though she didn't know me very well," Rivera recalled.

Donald Toelke Jr., 41, of Clifton, watched with the others as Schott's cherry-wood casket was covered with dirt. By 3:20 p.m., it was done.

Red roses and a mix of daisies, carnations and other blooms rested on top. A red-tailed hawk circled overhead.

"Boy, Marge would have loved that," Toelke said.

• 'Love ya, Honey': The program for Schott's funeral ends with a list of thank-yous. Then:

"And thanks to Marge, who might have said:

Hey, Honey, you win a few, you lose a few,

Some get rained out, but you dress for all the games.

Love ya, Honey! "

Reporters Dan Klepal, John Erardi, Jennifer Edwards and Cliff Radel contributed to this report.

Bronson: Marge reflected best and worst of Cincinnati
Homily for Marge Schott
They all turned out to hail 'a great lady'
And a red-tailed hawk circled high over her gravesite
Players show up to honor 'a good woman'
Radel: Cincinnati can learn a lot listening to Marge Schott

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