Lorraine Childers Schlechte

30 May, 194613 April, 2024
Obituary of Lorraine Childers Schlechte
Lorraine Childers Schlechte (1946 – 2024) Less books will be read, less cards will be sent, and less tummies will be fed. Lorraine Childers Schlechte, 77, of Indianapolis, Indiana, left her worries behind on Saturday, April 13, 2024, after a long battle with mental illness and a mercifully short hospitalization following cardiorespiratory failure. Lorraine was born to Wilmetta May and Joseph Pryor Childers on May 30, 1946, in Indianapolis, Indiana. She came the first year of the baby boom to two of the world’s most loving and proud parents after her father returned from World War II, joining big brother Ed and sister Betty Lou, with little brother Joe eventually rounding out the pack. Lorraine attended Washington High School and studied English and Teaching at Ball State University. She fearlessly moved to Germany after graduation, not speaking the language, and worked as a “bardame” in the Black Forest. She returned to Indianapolis, worked briefly as a high school English teacher, then found her true calling as a travel agent. Though she stopped doing this professionally when she became a mom, she would type itineraries for all our family vacations on her old typewriter, correct the oopsies with “liquid paper”, and make many stapled and snail-mailed photocopies to share with anyone who might be remotely interested in the details. Lorraine gave birth to her son, Theodore Soren “Ted” in 1979 and her daughter, Emily Anne (me), in 1982. She may not have always been detail-oriented or followed every social norm, but she was ALWAYS KIND. There was not a mean bone in her body, she did not engage in petty gossip, and she never held a grudge. She accepted us kids as we were, was proud of who we became, and rarely told us “no”. If we wanted a(nother) trip abroad or pet (hissing Madagascar cockroaches, piranhas, snakes, hedgehogs, bunnies, stray kittens, Siberian hamsters, and more!) we never had to ask twice. Perhaps we should have asked for even more! Our childhood birthday parties were where she really shined. There were clowns, ice skating adventures, a ride through an ice storm to Ben & Jerry’s in a hearse converted to “the chicken car”, and fabulous homemade cakes such as a real Barbie sticking out of the center of a bundt cake “dress” coated in pineapple frosting. Everyone knew her by her middle name, Lorraine, and she was Grandma Rainey or Aunt Rainey to her tiniest buddies. Ted and I, however, delighted in the fact that her given name was Bertha and we bestowed many related nicknames such as Berta-Gerta, Bert-Raine, and B.G. upon her. In addition to her spirit of adventure and love of travel, Lorraine was renowned for her baking and cooking, a true love language that she even explored for a while as a Williams-Sonoma employee when her kids were older. Upon learning of her passing, so many family members and friends reached out with memories of delicacies such as her fresh strawberry cake and the most Midwestern chicken casserole on the planet (mayonnaise, and hard-boiled eggs, and butter-soaked Corn Chex, OH MY!). She let me lick every cake, brownie, and mashed potato beater growing up, is responsible for my Diet Coke habit, and gifted me a treasured box of hand-written, favorite recipes when I graduated from college. Prior to her depression worsening, Lorraine kept in touch with more people more times per year than just about anyone in the history of everything. This feat was particularly impressive given she was a true luddite who resisted learning how to use a cell phone, email, or really much of any modern technology. She was the glue that kept relationships intact. As an adult I’ve begun to comprehend the herculean efforts she made to keep in touch with EVERYONE, but it was second nature to her – distant cousins, college roommates, friends’ children, nobody was forgotten. She delighted in sending “love-gifts” and kept a mini stationery store on her desk with cards for every occasion. She spent half of our vacations purchasing and mailing postcards that she addressed in her beautifully unique and loopy handwriting, using a tattered old address book full of scraps of paper added when she ran out of room. If not at home devouring a book, she was often driving around town, tuned only to NPR (unless a pledge drive caused her to turn it off after donating), with coffee stains in her car because she never took to travel mugs. Favorite stops were the Broad Ripple Post Office, Indianapolis Public Library, Atlas Grocery Store, or popping in unannounced on one of her friends. Many of those same friends and their children also recall her warm, salty batches of homemade playdough. Every Spring she picked daffodils, tulips, and fragrant lilies of the valley from our yard, wrapped the stems in damp paper towels and aluminum foil, and sent them with us to bestow upon our teachers. Her grandchildren may have missed out on some of her best years, but fondly recall receiving Kids Ink packages in that signature stamped tissue paper, decorating Christmas cookies together, swinging on her front porch, and being taught how to make homemade strawberry lemonade. A lifetime Indianapolitan, she was involved in the community as a member of Fairview Presbyterian Church, Ladies of the Club (book club), and throughout various volunteer roles including school PTA groups, Fairview Adult Daycare, her children’s babysitting co-ops, ReadUP, and Second Helpings. Lorraine was preceded in death by her son, Theodore Soren “Ted” Schlechte, parents Wilmetta May and Joseph Pryor Childers, Sister Betty Lou Neely, brothers Joseph Childers and Donald Kernodle, and many spoiled pets including Alice, Lily, Fletcher, and Smokey. Lorraine is remembered by so many people including me, her daughter, Emily Anne Croce (Steve); two grandchildren, Molly Carmella & Vincent August “Vinny” Croce; trusted helpers Joanne Hirsch, Barbra Bachmeier, and Julie Lenahan; cherished best friends who rallied her for picnics and included her in their family holiday celebrations, Margaret Smith and Kathy Whalen; former husband John Schlechte (Konnie); and countless other friends and relatives. I (Emily) was able to be with my mom for her last week, and then she left her earthly body bathed with love and dignity while under the loving care of Elizabeth & Chandra, her impossibly wonderful caregivers at Compassus Hospice. We believe Ted came to her, she took a deep sigh, and left to be with him. Millions of people live with mental illness, which is a physical illness that affects the brain, and they deserve to be supported in seeking psychiatric care and counseling. The whole family is affected when a loved one has depression or bipolar disorder, and the best thing we can do is learn more and reduce the stigma surrounding these diseases. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to ReadUP (via United Way of Central Indiana), Second Helpings of Indianapolis, Compassus Hospice, or the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Celebration of life will take place Sunday, May 19, 2024, 3:00 pm, at Fairview Presbyterian Church, 4609 N. Capitol Ave., Indianapolis, IN 46208. Refreshments immediately to follow. Lorraine’s ashes will be scattered privately with Ted’s at Crown Hill Cemetery.

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