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Felicity "Fifi" Bliss Wiedeman, 63, died on Sunday, April 5th. She brought a tremendous energy, passion, and enthusiasm to her life that exceeded her tiny frame.As a child, she sang, danced, and twirled, practically before she could walk. She played Eliza Doolittle in "My Fair Lady" at Sunset Hill, went to Pomona College to study theater, and then moved to New York to pursue her dream of becoming an actress, selling ties in a Madison Avenue store to pay the rent. When she returned to Kansas City, she became the Program Director for the Crown Center Summer Arts Festival, disarming the world-renowned performers she hired by showcasing the charm and unguarded enthusiasm that she displayed in all parts of her life.
When she met her future husband, Reeves, she liked to point out that their childhood homes were just blocks away from each other, and that they went to the same 8:30 mass as children. They had a deeply devoted marriage, and built warm and beautiful homes to which friends and family loved being invited. They shared a love of dancing, an enthusiasm for their large extended families, and annual New Years Eve parties with long-standing friends.
As a mother, Fifi was inventive, playful, and affectionate. She raised her two sons and daughter to be thoughtful and strong, with a deep sense for the importance of community. Her commitment to their education, and to building a stronger Kansas City, pushed her to run for, and win, a seat on the Kansas City Missouri School Board. Later, she took on the task of renovating and reopening the iconic Dime Store in Brookside. She climbed every mountain, with vigor and whimsy. For her 50th birthday, she had a line dancing party.
Fifi struggled for many years with severe depression, an illness that afflicts more Americans every year than cancer. She put up a brave fight, seeking medical treatment while trying to lead a full life like the one she always had: volunteering at NourishKC community kitchen; joining a singing group called The Noteables; and continuing to nurture her adult children. She relied more and more on the strength and optimism of her husband, as well as her children and sisters, but the disease eventually became too difficult to bear. The fact that she died by suicide shows the terrible force of this illness.
Fifi is preceded in death by her parents, Curtis and Bette Bliss. She is survived by her husband, Reeves; her children, Reeves (Tom), Sam, and Kaitlynne (Katie); and her sisters Mimi Lachman, Lili Shank, and Kitty Bliss. A private ceremony was held on April 10th. The family would be honored by any donations made in Fifis memory to NourishKC (nourishkc.org).
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