The GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club was already grieving the death of its former president, Edwina Kraemer, when the club received word that Edwina’s husband, David, had died a day later.
Those who knew Edwina describe her as capable, dynamic, organized and giving. They said she was a woman who held leadership roles in the woman’s club, was passionate about raising money for Canine Companions for Independence; was involved in her church, First United Methodist Church of Lutz; and, was devoted to her family.
David had been battling health problems for some time, and Edwina had been hospitalized in recent months, several sources said.
Friends were shocked that the couple died just one day apart.
The couple is survived by their son and his family, Keith, Pam and Gwen Vickery, of Brandon.
Even though Edwina was known for not calling attention to herself, she was widely known in the community because of her leadership and good works, several sources said.
She was president of the woman’s club during the years 2010 to 2012. And, she was named Lutz Guv’na in 2006, an honorary title secured by raising money to help community causes.
“Edwina was one of the most generous people you’d ever run into,” said Nancy Fisher, who has known Edwina since 2005.
She was a good friend, too.
“Anyone that was sick, down, whatever — she had a cake there. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen her take cakes to people,” Fisher said.
“She was a wonderful baker, fantastic cook. Her home was always open to have events for the woman’s club,” Fisher added.
Edwina and Fisher worked closely together to raise money for Canine Companions for Independence, a service dog organization.
“She headed DogFest for three years,” Fisher said, noting Edwina was instrumental in raising more than $130,000 for service dogs. “It would not have gone (on) without her. She put her whole heart into it.”
When the woman’s club holds a BowWow Bingo Fundraiser on Aug. 30, it also will honor Edwina, Fisher said.
“I’ve asked everyone to wear pearls. She always had pearls — a bracelet, earrings, a necklace, something,” Fisher said. “We want to remember her.”
Pat Serio, another woman’s club member, met Edwina through the club.
“I remember Edwina showing obvious signs of leadership from Day 1, and she lost no time in immediately accepting duties, club offices,” Serio said, via email.
“Family, her strong faith and service to her community meant everything to her. We, in the club, have missed her terribly during these past 5 months of her illness and will continue to feel the void for a long while,” Serio said.
“Edwina’s beloved David survived her by only one day, and we rejoice in that they are now reunited for eternity. RIP dear friends, Edwina and David,” Serio said.
Mike Mullins, a friend of David’s since 1971, recalled that the couple met when they were supervisors in the Youth Conservation Corps program.
Both of them were science teachers, said Mullins, who met David during a teacher conference on Sanibel Island. David taught at Eisenhower Junior High School and Jefferson High School, Mullins said.
“He was the kind of guy that would go out and bring in stuff for the kids to see. He was a very interactive teacher.”
David also loved to cook out, was involved in karate, was a firearms expert and instructor, and enjoyed spending time on his lake, Mullin said.
Rick Cabot, the pastor at First United Methodist Church of Lutz, said Edwina was involved in many ways at the church.
She helped with the massive project to relocate the church from its former site on Lutz Lake Fern Road near U.S. 41, to its current location, on Lutz Lake Fern near North Dale Mabry Highway.
It was a huge undertaking, involving the acquisition of land, design of the building and scores of other details, Cabot said. Edwina also helped raise money to pay for the project, which Cabot estimated at between $5.5 million and $6 million.
Additionally, Edwina was dedicated to preparing communion for the congregation.
She was typically there by herself early on Sunday mornings, Cabot said.
“She would have the biggest smile on her face,” he said, and as she filled each communion cup “it was like she was concerned for that person that would be partaking it. She just did it with so much love.
“Edwina’s heart for people and heart for God were simply incredible,” Cabot added.
“I just can’t say enough kind things about her.
“The biggest thing is how she made people feel when she was around them: Loved and cared about, that they were important,” the pastor said.
In a previous interview with The Laker/Lutz News, Edwina said she wanted to join the woman’s club because it was genuinely determined to serve the community.
She also offered her impression of the Lutz/Land O’ Lakes community.
“Lutz and Land O’ Lakes have this old town flavor,” she said. “I grew up in a little town in Brevard County (Cocoa), so it takes me back to my youth. There are a lot of great traditions in this area.”
When the woman’s club was celebrating its 50th anniversary, Edwina, then president, described the group as purposeful, empowered women. She said she was attracted to the club because of its focus on service.
“I was raised with the idea that you are not a burden to your society and that you give back,” she said.
Apparently, those lessons stuck.
A dual Celebration of Life service is planned for the couple on Sept. 29 at 10 a.m. at First United Methodist Church of Lutz, 960 W. Lutz Lake Fern Road.
Published August 29, 2018