From the Video Club of Laguna Woods
September 16, 2015

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Carly Luetzow, 1925 - 2015

This portrait, which was printed on the program
and displayed at Carly's Memorial Service,
was presented to her when she was named
“Leisure Worlder of the Month.”


From NORMA BENNER, Club Historian

Carly Luetzow, who in 1989 was a founding member of the Video Club of Laguna Woods, passed away on July 21, 2015. Besides serving the Video Club as President and later as Secretary, Carly worked as producer / director in our Video Studio, assisting the Mike Ayotte, Bev Glass, and Marvin Green team in many productions including the Write-on Show and hundreds of Veterans' Histories. Carly taught interviewing techniques and helped the Video Club in so many ways!

A Memorial Service was held on what would have been Carly’s 90th birthday where we learned more about this remarkable lady. For those of you who were not able to attend the August 12th Memorial Service at Geneva Presbyterian Church in Laguna Woods for Carlann Frase Luetzow, we have collected the inspiring “Words of Remembrance” from her family members, printed below.

I hope those receiving this, whether they knew Carly or not, will read these tributes from the Memorial. Carly's life was truly inspirational. Those of us who knew and worked with Carly were indeed blessed.

A video-related sidelight about Carly appeared in the January, 2011, Videogram (which was our club's monthly printed newsletter at that time): "Did you know that Carly worked for the Recreation Department of Dearborn Michigan and originated the Dearborn Seniors Video Club in 1982 to showcase the many volunteer activities of the city's senior adults? This show, 'Senior Glimpses,' won national awards for several years."

Below, left, Carly (right) with members of her Video Studio production team, Bev Glass and Mike Ayotte. At right, Carly (right) is shown with Nahid Roberts at the computer.


Annette Luetzow, Daughter

Below, Video Club Past-President Norma Benner (right) greets Carly's daughters and son at the Memorial Reception.,

Good morning, I’m Annette, Carly’s daughter and I want to thank you for joining us today on what would have been my mother’s 90th birthday, as we remember her and celebrate her remarkable life. She would have been so pleased to see so many of her friends and family gathered here today. While my brother will highlight many of the important events of her life, I thought I would highlight some of the qualities that made her such a special person.

If one had to choose a word to describe my mother, it would be nearly impossible, and many qualities would immediately spring to mind. She was friendly, energetic, enthusiastic, vivacious, talkative, adventurous, and dramatic. She was intelligent, educated, well read, and a life-long learner. She was spiritual and grounded in her faith. She was adventurous and always willing to try new things. She was a loving mother, grandma, wife, sister, daughter, cousin, aunt, and friend. Her life touched so many others in so many ways, and I’m sure they each would have trouble finding just one word to describe her.

When asked by strangers, “What does your mother do?” when we were younger, my brother would say, with a smile, “She’s an activist,” because she was always active, always planning something new. If she saw a need, she filled it. She ran a preschool in inner-city Detroit in the late '60’s after the riots. She organized an interim school at our church one year when the teachers went on strike. She willingly drove her kids and our friends to and attended all of our school and sporting events. She was Girl Scout leader and a Jr. Great Books leader, a Sunday School and Vacation Bible School teacher. She acted in community theater, was a supporter of music and the arts, and a docent for the symphony. She was very active with the AAUW in all sorts of projects that advocated for education and the empowerment of women and children. She volunteered for any committee she thought she could contribute to. Because of my mom’s example, my little sister didn’t play “house” as a child, she played “going to a meeting.” My father often thought she tried to do too much at once, but she wouldn’t have been happy any other way.

Her many interests and unbounded energy resulted in many friends and many interesting experiences. She never stopped wanting to learn new things. She went parasailing in Mexico for her 70th birthday, traveled to Machu Picchu in Peru in her 80’s and went on many Elderhostel trips. If an event could be fun and educational at the same time, she was all for it. She was involved in so many activities in her “retirement” here in Laguna Woods that I couldn’t list them all, and even this past year was on the resident council at Brookdale Irvine where she most recently lived.

In the midst of all these activities, she was a loving mother, wife, a faithful friend, an involved grandmother. She always had time to help a neighbor, to listen to someone who needed to talk, to play with her grandchildren, to give out hugs, and to share the experiences of her remarkable life. So if I had to pick just one word to describe her life, I think it would have to be amazing.

Bill Luetzow, Son

Below, Video Club Past-President Tom Martin (left) greets Carly's daughters and son at the Memorial Reception.,

“Dear Grandkids”, a Eulogy for Mom,

In thinking about what I wanted to say today, the thought that kept coming to mind was what Mom would have wanted her six grandkids to know about who she was and the life she lived. She was too modest when she was younger, and uncharacteristically less talkative as she became frail in recent years, and wasn’t able to say the things that I am going to say for her.

But if she had sat down with her grandkids and talked about the important things in her life, I think it might have gone something like this:

Dear Alex, Alondra, Emily, Jacob, Johnny, and Ryan,

My sweet rose, my most precious jewels, please listen while I tell you a little about my life.

I was born 90 years ago today, in 1925, in Chicago. A few years later the stock market and banks failed and something call the Great Depression occurred. My father, your Great grandpa Karl Frase, was very successful, a doctorate in Pharmacy and Chemistry, and an inventor. However, like many people, lost nearly all his money. We still had a very nice house, but my Dad and Mom (she was named Annette), my younger sister Bonnie and I went through some tough times then, and we learned how to get by with very little. We did have my mother’s father’s little farm in Southern Illinois and lots of cousins and enjoyed their company though.

One thing I’d like you to understand about life is that once you learn how little you really need, you appreciate what you have a lot more. Enjoy the things you have, try to be happy without having everything, and don’t look to things to make you happy.

Now back to my story: Right around the time I was graduating from high school, WWII started, and my life changed again. Women worked really hard to keep things going in the country, while most of the young men went to war. Some of my friends never came back. That was very sad.

We were so happy when the war was over.

My dad wasn’t sure a women should even go to college, but I paid my own way and became a teacher. I loved teaching kindergarten, first and second graders. The time after the war was over was a happy time for me; my father found good work and was happier too.

But when I was only around 30 years old my sister Bonnie suddenly came down with a disease called polio, which doesn’t even exist in America now, and she died during a vacation, before I could even say goodbye. She had two young children. Then one year later my mother, who had diabetes, died, at age 60. Can you believe it? I lost my only sibling and my mother within a year. My dad, became very dependent on me after that, which was very challenging. “Poppy” as his grandkids called him, had, at the age of four, been sent to America with his sister to live with his aunt and uncle, because his mother had died and his father couldn’t take care of him. There was no other family, but I did my best to take care of him and myself.

Then your Grandpa Howard and I met. We fell in love and married. We were married for 47 years! He was a quiet, very kind, supportive man. Our personalities balanced each other very well. We moved from Chicago to a nice city called Dearborn, Michigan, in a smallish but nice home. Before long we had three children, Annette, Bill, and Carol, who I liked to call “A, B and C”, and who I loved deeply. I worked hard to help them be good students, to enjoy learning new things, and am very proud that I helped them develop into thoughtful, hardworking people who cared a lot about the rest of God’s children. We had lots of friends in Dearborn, went to church every Sunday, and did a lot of things with people from our church.

I was very, very busy during those years. Not only was I very involved in my children’s education and their swimming and other activities, I also wanted to give to the community. So I volunteered my time trying to help people who needed my help.

One thing I am most proud of was that I started a preschool in the poorest area of Detroit, at a time when more and more people, the ones who had enough money, moved outside of the city, in suburbs like Dearborn, or even fancier towns. The problem was that a lot of people in the inner-city, mostly African American, didn’t have much money or feel like white people cared about them (and, truthfully, a lot of white people didn’t seem to care much about them) In 1968, many in the inner-city of Detroit became very angry and desperate and some even started to riot and destroy things.

My friends and I thought what poor people in Detroit needed most was more support, especially the little children, so I helped start the Owen Preschool. This was a time when preschools where not nearly as common like they are today. I had to be very brave to go to a place where some people might be mad at me just because I was white-skinned and not poor.

Here’s one of my favorite stories: One day my car got stuck in the snow in the inner-city. I was scared and alone when two teenage boys came up to me in my car. Would they be mad at me? Hurt me? No! They recognized me as “the lady from the preschool” and helped push my car out of the snow. Many people were very thankful for the work I did. This shows how doing nice things for people can be very rewarding. I even won an award: the American Association of University Women’s “Women of the Year” for my 12 years of work at that preschool.

Believe it or not, that was only one of several volunteer type jobs I did while raising my kids, and participating in their activities as well! (I was a Girl Scout leader, Jr Great Books club leader, kids’ sports fan---oh, those long swim meets---and chauffeur) I also helped start an after school program for other disadvantaged kids.

Another thing I was passionate about was working to help women get equal rights and equal pay at work compared to men. This was important work because back then women often were not treated as equals compared to men. I was involved with the League of Women Voters and served as President of our local AAUW chapter.

Over the years I also saw how senior citizens sometimes felt unimportant, sad or bored as they got older. Before I became a “Senior”, and then a “Senior Senior” myself, I worked with seniors in Dearborn, helping them travel to lots of different and interesting places. I also helped start a club that produced a local TV show called “Senior Glimpses”. We won a national award for the show, and I helped produce over 200 TV shows.

When my father grew older and couldn’t take care of himself, Grampa Howard and I had him live in our house with the kids and us, and we took care of him for around five years. A few years after Poppy Frase died, Grampa Howard’s mother “Nana” needed a place to live, and she moved in and we took care of her. This was a big sacrifice of my personal time, but I always thought it was our important duty to take care of our parents.

After our kids went away to college, Grampa Howard, Nana, Taffy the dog, and I moved to what was called Leisure World just up the hill from where we are today, at Geneva Presbyterian Church here in Laguna Woods. This started a very fun time in our lives. Grandpa Howard and I had worked very hard for many years, and we really enjoyed the lifestyle here. We played lots of golf and tennis and had lots of fun activities with many friends around here.

You won’t be surprised to know that I still did a lot of volunteer work, even in so called “retirement”.

I even won an award, called “Leisure Worlder of the Month” for my work in the community: for volunteering with the Philharmonic Society (helping introduce children to classical music), for being the Creative Director for “Discovery Theater” (putting on stage shows to entertain other residents of Leisure World), and for starting up a Video Club (making informational TV broadcast shows about people and things around Leisure World).

You see, I always liked to be active. “Enthusiastic” is a good word to describe me.

My dear Alex, Alondra, Emily, Jake, Johnny, and Ryan, I hope you now better understand what your grandma’s life was like and what was important to me. Please know that no one is more important than each of you are. I loved being a mom and grandma more than anything else and am so proud of who you are, and very optimistic about the kind of person you will become. I hope you understand that life will often be difficult, and challenging, and sometimes very sad. But you can find happiness helping others and I hope you will follow my example and always think about ways you can help other people, especially those that are really in need!

Love, Grandma

Carol Reschke, Daughter

Below,Mike Ayotte shoots Betsy Martin (left) interviewing Carly in Video Studio.for club historical video on September 29, 2014.

Hello, I’m Carol, Carly’s youngest daughter.

My mother was an amazing woman, as you’ve heard my brother and sister share with you. She possessed a special energy and had such a spirit of love and life in her that it touched all she did and everyone she met. As I get older and look back on how she cared for us, sacrificed for us and taught us, I am amazed at how she did it. She led a life that showed by example how to truly live – she never stopped wanting to learn new things, or do new things, or quite frankly sit still for very long.

But one of the things that I admire most about my mom was how she encouraged each of us to follow our dreams and reach our goals. She was a confident encourager. She was confident that what she encouraged in us to do or accomplish would without a doubt be achievable – whether it was in school, sports, our personal lives, or as parents. I cannot even begin to count the times she said to me, “I know you can do it,” and in the next breath not only tell me why she knew I could do it, but also ask how she could help me do it. There were many times when even I wasn’t sure if I could do it, but her encouragement and belief in me gave me the motivation and faith in myself to accomplish my goal. If she believed in me, who was I to doubt? She was the wind beneath my wings. And because I can still hear her voice saying those very words, she still is.

I am so deeply grateful to her for that gift and her gift of enthusiasm and tenacity, courage and hope, strength and wisdom. I am so deeply grateful that she loved us and provided for us not only in practical ways but in emotional and spiritual ways as well. I am so grateful that even when her life was hard from loss or cancer or aging, she never gave up or gave in, but continued to live life as fully as she could. She taught me and continues to teach me so much by her determination, her faith, her love for us, her joy in living well, and her refusal to live any other way. Her life gives me so much to look up to, to live up to, and to admire that even though she has passed, her words, her love, and her life will continue to be the example by which I live and hope to emulate to my children as well.

This poem by Chris Gallatin says it so well:

If there is happiness in my heart,

it's because you helped put it there.

If there is a gentleness in my beliefs,

it's because you showed me how to care.

If there is understanding in my thinking,

it's because you shared your wisdom.

If there is a rainbow over my shoulder,

it's because of your outlook and your vision.

If there is a knowledge that I can reach out – and I really can make dreams come true 

it's because I learned from the best teacher of all.

I learned … from you.

I love you Mom and you are forever in my heart.

Alejandro Ortiz, Grandson


I feel that as the first grandson, I have a responsibility to speak about my grandma today. I have many things that I would like to say, but only so much time. All of us are very sad about her sudden passing. We all wonder if there is something we could have done to change things. But I feel that we should honor her life today, and being sad and quite sure isn’t the way my grandmother used to be, so neither should we. I don’t remember a great multitude of things before I was five, and unfortunately that is a lot of memories that I lost. But fortunately for me, I was the grandkid closest to my grandma and over the years could form more than enough memories to compensate for my lost memories.

I can remember the pasta with cheese sauce she always would bring when she babysat me and my sister. I remember the smell of the Pillsbury holiday cookies, and of course the hugs she never ran out of. I’m very thankful I had the opportunities to spend time with my grandma when she was healthy; they can’t be replaced or forgotten. She has been with me every step of the way, through all of my phases and obsessions. She has been to many swim meets and school events and most recently got to see her first grandson graduate high school, which is a blessing I was so fortunate to have.

I have many things that I can thank my grandma for, besides the memories and cookies. I’m very sure that I got some of my humor and laughter from her, my interest in film-making, passion for adventure, and also my tendency to ramble. So thank you, Grandma, for being a teacher to my mom, for being a friend to my sister, for all the memories and laughter. Oh, and for my blue eyes as well, I can’t thank you enough for those.

You may not be with us for now, but you will never leave our minds, or our memories and you will live among all of us eternally in our hearts.

It’s obvious to me that you’re not gone, because you are very much with all of us right now.

Below, at Video Club's 25th Anniversary Celebration, October 16, 2014, Carly shared memories with (from left) Mike Ayotte, Tom Martin, and fellow club founder Mike Evans.


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