Doris Pommerening Simonson
Doris Pommerening Simonson, beloved wife of Robert Simonson Sr., and loving mother of Karin Simonson Kopischke, Eric Simonson, Robert Simonson Jr. and Britta Simonson Callaway, died Oct. 29, 2014, after suffering a stroke. She was 84 and lived in Waukesha.
Born July 28, 1930, in Milwaukee, to E.C. Pommerening, a lawyer, and Emily Schink Pommerening, a homemaker. A gifted pianist from an early age, she was accompanist for musicals staged at Wauwatosa High School, where she was a student. Higher education began at Lawrence University at Appleton, and continued at Northwestern University in Evanston, where she earned a degree in piano performance in 1952. Soon after, she performed Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue" in a Milwaukee concert with the Lutheran Symphonic Band. Later in life, she took a masters in music education at UW-Whitewater.
Prior to marriage in 1957, Doris taught instrumental music in the Milwaukee school system. She took up teaching music again in Wauwatosa Public Schools and, in the '70s, for Eagle Elementary School in Waukesha County, and then Palmyra-Eagle High School. At the latter, she cut a colorful figure, walking the halls in florid, wide-brimmed hats and founding the school's theatre program. As director or musical director of the PEHS' annual plays and musicals, she regularly challenged the athletic department's claim on the gymnasium.
Outside school, she participated in productions at Waukesha Civic Theatre, Sunset Playhouse in Elm Grove and Village Players in Muwonago. She also taught piano privately, and played organ at multiple churches.
She instilled in her four children her sense of style, passion for the arts and general joie de vivre. Daughter Karin, of Fish Creek, is a theatrical costume designer and educator at Lawrence U.; son Eric, of Los Angeles is a professional stage director and playwright, who won an Oscar for his short film "A Note of Triumph"; son Robert Jr. of Brooklyn, writes about cocktails and spirits for the New York Times; and daughter Britta, of Wheaton Ill, is a personal stylist at Nordstrom's in Oak Creek, Ill.
A woman of endless industry and many interests, Doris was a talented gardener. Her backyard flower garden was of such dimension and beauty, it would cause strangers to stop their cars in admiration. Asked by a Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reporter in 1998 why her pansies thrived while the writer's own had shriveled, Simonson replied, "Well, these have been pampered."
Drawing on the recipes and kitchen traditions of her mother, she canned and pickled fruits and vegetables of all sorts, and began baking a wide variety of Christmas cookies in early November. These treats she invariably distributed among friends, relatives, even the paperboy. Her baked and canned goods won multiple blue ribbons at the Wisconsin State Fair.
Doris' vast stock of German-made Meissen porcelain from the 18th and 19th centuries was recognized as one of the most important privately held collections in the world, as was featured heavily in "The Book of Meissen," an authoritative guide by R>E> Roentgen. She was a member of Delta Gamma sorority; the Daylily Society of SE Wisconsin, hybridizing many new varieties, Questers, a nonprofit devoted to the preservation of antiques, PEO, a philanthropic women's org.; and the Waukesha County Republican Party.
Always brimming with enthusiasm for whatever each day might hold, she loved entertaining, cooking a rich meal, singing a bawdy song, playing a sonata, listening to Sinatra, having an Old-Fashioned at cocktail hour and answered each ringing phone with a musical "Doris P!" She was a lifelong theatergoer, and traveled the world, from Tuscany to Chile to Door County, where she owned a condominium. Immoderately fond of Christmas, her house burst with decorations every yuletide, boggling the eyes of visitors. Asked how she was, she invariably replied, "Moderately fantastic."
In addition to her husband and four children, she is survived by her sister Ruth Trowbridge of Green Bay; sister-in-law Sandra Bloom Pommerening of Elm Grove; grandchildren Anya, Asher, Simon, Emillia, Cole, Henry and Micah; and many nieces and nephews,
She was predeceased by her brothers Glen Pommerening of Alexandria, Va., and Edwin Pommerening of Pewaukee.
A memorial will be held 3 PM Saturday, Nov. 15, at Calvary Lutheran Church 1750 N. Calhoun Road, Brookfield. Reception immediately following.
Randle-Dable-Brisk Funeral Home, Crematory and Preplanning Service is honored to serve the family. For further information, please call the funeral home at 262-547-4035 or visit our website at www.waukeshafunerals.com for directions or to leave the family an online tribute message.