Arlena Schumann, “Arlene”, age 98, of Kansas City, MO, passed away peacefully in her home on January 25, 2024. Arlene was born on December 10, 1925, to Otto Wilhelm Knopp and Hedwig Klara Knopp (Boehme). Arlene was born in Kansas City, MO to German immigrant parents, who had just immigrated to America in the early 1920s. When Arlene was a small child, her parents separated. Her mother left her father and two siblings(Hildegard and Otto Jr) in America, and took three-year-old Arlene back to Germany with her where they lived with her grandparents in Hohen Neuendorf from 1929 to 1949. Arlene loved being outdoors on the family’s small farm, spending a lot of time in the garden and with their animals. Arlene learned to make clothing, cook, play the piano, and play tennis. Arlene attended school in war-torn Germany, during WWII. She graduated in 1940. At age 15, she went straight from school to work where she was trained on the job at a survey and drafting company, where her talent for drawing and the arts was fostered. It was here that Arlene met an engineer apprentice, her future husband, Alfred Schumann. Arlene married Alfred on March 14, 1942. Arlene and Alfred welcomed their only child, Horst Alfred Hermann Schumann on July 23, 1943. During their employment the war progressed and the company was forced to convert from drafting to ammunition manufacturing. One day while at work, their building was bombed, where Arlene, Alfred, and other employees that survived had to crawl out of the rubble to safety. Arlene sought shelter in underground bunkers with their toddler son, while Alfred was drafted into the German Army. Arlene, her parents, grandparents, and young Horst together survived a multitude of bombings, displacements, bunkers, and starvation. Later they sought shelter and safety in a UNRRA German refugee camp, and eventually found American sponsors on a ranch in Chapman, Kansas. Arlene, her son Horst, and her mother Hedwig immigrated to America via ship, where they lived and worked on the ranch in Chapman, KS. Arlene’s grandparents chose to stay behind in Hohen Neuendorf, Germany. Arlene and Alfred divorced a few years later, yet remained connected and friends throughout their lives.
After coming to America in 1949, Arlene was determined to quickly learn English, had to take courses to receive her American high school diploma, then started college at Kansas State University, while working full time. Arlene graduated with her bachelor's degree in education in 1953. Arlene started her first teaching job at Boone Elementary in Kansas City, MO, where she first taught special education, then was an elementary art teacher. Arlene went back to college at UMKC where she received her master's degree in education. Arlene later moved to the Belton, MO school district where she taught elementary art for the next 19 years. Arlene retired from teaching in 1984, after 31 years. During her summers off from teaching, she loved to travel the world. Arlene visited countless countries, where she collected so many fabulous treasures, artifacts and memories. While traveling, Arlene always immersed herself in the country and culture. Arlene’s walls and shelves at home were filled with so much character, life and warmth, in fact, many people commented that her home was like a living museum of art and artifacts. Arlene spoke four languages fluently, and studied many others. Arlene was a huge lover of the arts. She took two semesters of courses at the Kansas City Art Institute, where she further expanded her artistic abilities and studied life drawing and fiber/textiles. She was an active member of the Nelson Atkins Art Gallery- Friends of Art, and the KC Art Study Club. Arlene loved health and fitness, and was a lifelong avid tennis player, snow skier, and exercise enthusiast. Arlene had an enormous love and respect for the outdoors, which showed in her frequent walks, hikes, camping trips, travels, swimming, and donations to the Missouri Dept of Conservation. Arlene also loved her local news stations PBS and KCPTV. Arlene also belonged to Alpha Delta Kappa of MO, the Missouri Retired Teachers Assoc, and the German American Citizens Assoc “German Club”. Arlene was very active in the German Club, where she attended many annual meetings, events, and helped plan their annual German Christmas party. Arlene, her son Horst, and family loved attending their annual German parties together. Arlene enjoyed entertaining her family- she loved to cook for them, playing and singing with her grandchildren and great-grandchildren on the piano, making art projects with her grandchildren, taking the family swimming in her pool, and on group hikes. The family will dearly miss her yearly German Christmas celebrations and parties, with wonderful homemade foods, all kinds of authentic German cookies, candies and chocolates, sharing in German traditions, listening to her play the piano, and singing German songs, filled with love, laughter, and her unique, sentimental, eclectic gifts that were homemade or from her travels.
Arlene is preceded in death by her father Otto Wilhelm Knopp, mother Hedwig Klara Knopp (Boehme), sister Hildegard Charlotte Knopp, brother Otto Wilhelm Knopp, Jr, ex-husband Alfred Herman Schumann, son Horst Alfred Hermann Schumann, and grandson Christopher Michael Schumann. Arlene is survived by her two granddaughters Jennifer Ashley Schumann Dilks (David), and granddaughter Stephanie Alicia Schumann, and three great-grandsons Cade Schumann, Reily Dilks, and Braeden Jones, and daughter-in-law Donna Sue (Ross) Schumann.
A graveside burial service will be held on Saturday, February 10th, 2024 at 1:00 pm at Forest Hill Cemetery, 6901 Troost Avenue, KC, MO. A celebration of life dinner will immediately follow at Jack Stack on the Country Club Plaza at 2:15 pm.
For donations of plants or flowers to the family in memory of Arlene Schumann, please send to Forest Hill Cemetery for her graveside service on Saturday, February 10th, 2024.
Donations in Arlene’s name and honor can be made to:
Missouri Department of Conservation
P.O. Box 366, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0366