She was a fixture for years at Independence Day celebrations in Lutz, overseeing the annual Cake Bake Contest.
She was a regular, too, at the Christmas House at the Old Lutz School, serving up hot chocolate and doling out cookies.
But, those are just a couple of the many, many ways that Marilyn Wannamaker served the community of Lutz.
She was deeply involved in the GFWC Lutz-Land O’ Lakes Woman’s Club, occupying nearly every office, including president for two terms.
She was devoted to helping young girls develop a heart for community work, as well as leadership skills, through her role as adviser to the Little Women of Lutz.
Marilyn Wannamaker’s life was remembered on Feb. 23, during a Memorial Eucharist at St. Clement’s Episcopal Church in Tampa.
During the religious ceremony, she was eulogized by her sons, Mark and Scott Peterson; and by Annette Bellinger, a first vice president of the Woman’s Club, and Jane Mason, current adviser for the Little Women of Lutz. Her son, Mark, also shared some thoughts provided by his wife, Val Peterson.
Bellinger recalls feeling a little bit intimidated when she met Wannamaker, who was president of the woman’s club at the time — and had total command of club protocol.
But, Bellinger said her initial concerns were quickly erased, as she witnessed Wannamaker’s incredible warmth.
Wannamaker paid attention to people, and became aware of not only details in their lives, but in their loved ones’ lives, as well, Bellinger said.
Wannamaker led by example.
“She was always willing to work,” Bellinger said. “Even when she didn’t feel that great, she still turned up.”
Mason, who now works with The Little Women of Lutz, recalled Wannamaker’s passion for that group.
During Wannamaker’s tenure as its advisor, The Little Women of Lutz cooked dinner at the Ronald McDonald House, helped at the Lutz Branch Library, kept a stretch of road clear of trash; and helped a family at Christmas, and performed other acts of community service.
Working with the girls was a source of joy to Wannamaker.
“To me it’s wonderful to watch them grow and develop into wonderful young women,” she told The Laker/Lutz News, in a feature story about the group.
Wannamaker’s sons — Mark and Scott — were unabashed in expressing their affection at her memorial.
“Mom never missed an event,” Mark said. “She graded our homework.
“She was our life coach.
We have so many fond memories of our mom,” he said.
“Our mom volunteered for everything,” Mark added.
Over the years, she was active on the board of the Lutz Volunteer Fire Department, held the honorary title of Lutz Guv’na, was head of the St. Clement’s Altar Guild, and was a Salvation Army bell ringer, among other things.
Mark said her calendar was so crowded that he would have to call her weeks in advance to get a date to take her out to dinner.
He wasn’t complaining: He was proud.
Her son, Scott, said his mom was a good sport.
When he was playing Little League baseball, she’d put on a glove to go outside to play catch with him. And, she stepped up to become the official scorekeeper.
“She had immaculate penmanship,” he marveled.
She encouraged his love of music, even to the point of allowing his bands to practice at their house.
“I don’t know how many times that poor woman had to hear ‘Gloria,’” he said, drawing laughter from the crowd.
Wannamaker enjoyed traveling and had the chance to visit such places as Scotland, Australia and the Far East.
She enjoyed those trips, but she was always happy to return to Lutz, where she spent much of her time and energy working to improve community life.
After the service, her friend Pat Serio, another member of the Woman’s Club, described Wannamaker as “a very, very involved friend, and a dear, caring person.
“Marilyn will definitely leave a large void in my life, as well as in our club and the Lutz community,” Serio said.
Wannamaker was always thinking of others, even to the end, her sons said.
One of her final requests was that, in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Little Women of Lutz, c/o Lutz Land O’ Lakes Women’s Club, P.O. Box 656, Lutz, Florida 33548-0656.
Published February 27, 2019