Sun City senior recognized for her poetry by Mensa

Versatility is a word that describes Edie Schmoll.

She is an accomplished musician who plays piano, organ and accordion and writes music and lyrics for her Music Songs custom song company.

Her writing takes other creative forms: children’s fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Her poetry recently received national recognition from Mensa, a nonprofit organization for those whose tested intelligence quotient ranks them in the 98th percentile or higher.

Edie Schmoll also plays piano, the accordion and organ and writes music and lyrics.

In July, Schmoll received notification that her poem “And Now” was chosen from about 2,500 entries as the 2008 American Mensa Publications Recognition Program winner for a poetry contribution.

“I did not think it was one of my best, but what do I know?” said the Sun City senior citizen.

Sonja Struthers, managing editor of the Inland Empire Mensa newsletter at the time, was the one who submitted Schmoll’s poem.

“Edie always made the finals but got the big prize this year,” said Struthers, a 24-year Mensa member. “When I first started reading her poetry I was so touched.”

When Struthers transferred to the Inland Empire chapter from Orange County about eight years ago she met Schmoll.

“Edie is the most unassuming, humble, generous person I have ever met,” said Struthers, of Murrieta. “She’s an absolutely brilliant woman.”

After making a request to Hattie Hedrick, director of music and drama arts at Trinity Lutheran Church, Schmoll began playing monthly solos at the Hemet church.

“I couldn’t be at church one day and asked her to fill in for the music proclamation — sight unseen,” Hedrick said. The church provides a Web cast of its services and Hedrick watched Schmoll’s performance via her laptop computer.

“Everyone raved about her,” Hedrick said. “I had no idea what to expect and she has turned out to be this wonderful little angel that comes and plays for us on Sundays.”

Schmoll was the Massachusetts spelling bee champion at the age of 10 and graduated from high school at 16. She became a concert pianist for several years, after just three years of lessons.

“At every job I ever had I said I was going to do a better job than anyone else — that’s my creed,” Schmoll said.

She spent several years as a music teacher with her own studio and worked with Harold Rhodes, developer of the first electric keyboard. Schmoll used her business skills working for the Air Force, Army and Navy. Schmoll had a two-year stint at the Pentagon, which included serving as a speech writer.

“I thought I had no life after my husband died,” she said. Ted Schmoll, a noted photographer, died six years ago after 30 years of marriage.

His long illness, during which she served as caretaker, took a toll on her. But then Schmoll enrolled in some music classes taught by Dr. Ed Yarnelle at Mt. San Jacinto College. “I told him he brought me back to life.”

“Edie has the heart of a musician,” said Michael Tausig, Music Department chair at MSJC’s Menifee campus. “Music is so much more than hitting the right notes. Edie plays with heart and soul — the fingers just follow.”

In May, Schmoll auditioned for the Music Performance Program at Riverside City College. She has several lectures and recitals scheduled before the end of the year.

“She is highly motivated and a delight to see and hear,” said Tausig, of Hemet. “She is passionate about her playing. She is always seeking new experiences and additional growth.”

“There’s always more to learn and always someone better than you — so you just keep going,” Schmoll said.

Some of her piano performances can be viewed at www.trinityhemet.org. For more information about the local Mensa organization, visit www.iemensa.us.

10:00 PM PDT on Monday, October 6, 2008
By DIANE A. RHODES Special to The Press-Enterprise
http://www.pe.com/localnews/inland/stories/PE_News_Local_S_schmoll07.339db19.html
Reach Diane A. Rhodes at 951-763-3461 or [email protected]

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