Edna Schultz Crissman, 96, passed away peacefully at her home in bed at her home in Titusville, Pennsylvania, Aug. 15, 2018. She was born on March 7, 1922, to the late Emily and Herbert Schultz in Pittsburgh, a city she dearly loved and home to many of her treasured friends. Her family loved Chautauqua Institution and owned property from 1958 until 2016 and lived year round from 1986 until Edna moved back to Titusville in 2016. She was a strong, independent, and complex woman, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother. She leaves behind a somewhat dysfunctional family that she was very proud of, as well as lots of assorted treasures and odds and ends she collected over the years. I’m not kidding; she left behind a heck of a lot of stuff to her children. So if you’re looking for knickknacks gathered over a lifetime, like a ceramic bowl of fruit (a wedding anniversary gift from her husband — classic, way to go Dad), a glass manatee, a toaster oven and a Keurig coffee maker (both slightly used), or even a rarely used 2001 Camry with 45,000 miles, or perhaps 1,001 or more knitting tools and accessories of unknown purpose to us laymen, you should wait the appropriate amount of time and get in touch. Now would be great. Call Betsy because Susan and Tom made her store everything.
Edna was not only known for her skills as a collector and distributor of cherished bric-a-brac, but also for her tenacity, sharpness of wit, punctuality, and frankness of opinion. She was gifted with the knack for telling you just like it is and always told the truth, even when it wasn’t what you wanted to hear. She was the youngest of three sisters and spent her formative years growing up during The Great Depression, and yes, we were told many times how she had to walk for miles, uphill both ways, in a blizzard, to get to school. Because Edna attended The School of Hard Knocks, she was of the firm mindset to always keep moving and soldier on through anything. For her, grief and sorrow were not a prudent use of time nor energy. Keeping busy was her way of coping and expressing herself, and because it served her well enough, this is what we were taught to do. Often, her particular method of fortitude was difficult to emulate. Having said that, she was genuine to a fault, gentle at heart with a wry sense of humor, and yet she candy-coated nothing.
Edna was a graduate of Peabody High School in Pittsburgh and the University of Pittsburgh. She had an extensive vocabulary and tremendous historical knowledge. She enjoyed “Jeopardy,” crossword puzzles, and working the New York Times Sunday crossword puzzle in pen. She was also fond of card games and regularly played bridge with friends. She was a lover of comedy, period pieces, art, theater, dance, opera, and classical music and passed down an appreciation for the arts to her family. She was amazingly gifted at work with her hands. She created many wonderful pieces of art from her sewing, knitting, cross-stitch and needlepoint. She also delighted in her rose and myrtle “gardens.” Trust us; she loved to weed those gardens. Apparently child labor was legal so we spent countless hours weeding or perhaps polishing silver. Again, keeping busy was of utmost importance to her.
Her words of encouragement, wisdom, and sometimes comfort kept us in line and gave us something to pass down to our children. Everyone always knew where they stood with her. She either liked you or she didn’t. The palette of her personality was painted broadly in strokes of black and white.
Edna was notoriously known as a master cook in the kitchen. She believed in thoroughly cooking everything so you could adequately exercise your jaw. You’d never get sick because any germs were boiled, baked or fried to death. Freezing them worked just as well. Many a pot, pan or tea kettle was tested for a melting point under her watch. There were also very few justifications for disposal regarding the expiration dates on food items stored in the fridge and pantry. Wastefulness was not an ideal, so we all did our duty as best we could to test the accuracy of those dates. We also learned to use a napkin at an early age. The idea would be to cough into the napkin and spit the food into it. If anyone would like a copy of her homemade pork chops, peas and rice, we would suggest you don’t.
Edna volunteered a great deal of her time to the Chautauqua Fire Department, the Mayville Food Pantry, the Titusville Area Hospital, the Titusville Food Pantry, the Salvation Army, and Disaster Relief for the American Red Cross where she helped provide aid following 9/11 in New York City and in Florida following Hurricane Andrew and in West Virginia following Hurricane Fran. She also worked for many years for the Chautauqua Institution in the hospitality department and as a president of the Chautauqua Ladies Golf Association. She loved to travel and spent many wonderful adventures with her great friends Lou Wineman and Gerry Clifford.
She will be missed terribly.
Edna is survived by her children, Susan Geralds, née Crissman, Betsy Irwin, née Crissman, and Tom, her favorite child. She is also survived by her son-in-law, Rick Geralds, and daughter-in-law, Shelly Crissman, née Kay and oldest friend Pat Klingensmith, and (her children from another mother) Jamie, Bill and Patsy; her grandchildren, Kristin, Sarah, Emily, Annie, Jacob and Daniel; great-grandchildren, Luke, Tess, Lydia, Suzie, Ethan, Kate and Gabriel; and her dear neighbor and political guru, Paul Cawein, who thoughtfully shoveled Edna’s walk, brought her food and fresh flowers regularly, picked up her mail and papers, shared his New York Times with her, took her garbage to the curb, and faithfully kept her company year round during the cold winters when the Chautauqua snowbirds flew the coop. She was preceded in death by her husband Robert (Criss) Crissman and her two sisters, Betty Wise and Frankie Neidhardt. She is dearly loved by her family and friends and we’ll never forget her fortitude, tenacity, wit, charm, grace, and undying love and caring for everyone in her life. A private service, due to her friends not being able to attend because they decided to beat her to the Pearly Gates, was held at Homewood Cemetery on Oct. 6, 2018. Thank you for your thoughts, Sandy Stocks.