From the Digest

In Memoriam: Charmaine Nottlemann

Charmaine Nottlemann took great care of her plants and a fish pond, as well. She also enjoyed her canine friend, Annie.

By Rita Taylor (August 2021)

I was so sorry to hear of the passing of my friend, my cactus and succulent buddy, Charmaine, this past May. I miss her. At 93 years old, she was amazingly active. Besides taking great care of her plants, she had a fish pond and kept up her own home.

Charmaine and I first met at exercise classes at our local community center years ago. When she spotted me at an annual HSCSS show and decided to join the group, she wasted no time in hitching a ride with me. She would often bring a little snack for us to share on our rides home. Thus began our friendship.

Charmaine was a big help to me, too. She was my plant sitter for my more delicate plants many times when my husband and I would go on trips. One time, she asked me why in the world did I bring my lithops to her when I went out of town, since I put a sign on them: “Do not water.” I told her they just needed sunshine, but she gave me a funny look.

Charmaine had no interest in the scientific names of her plants. What mattered is if she thought a plant looked interesting. Her plants were generally very happy and healthy. However, one time I could not convince her that one of her cacti was dead. Of course, some cacti hold their shape even after they’re long gone. I have to admit that I’ve been in the same situation: Is that plant of mine still alive or not?

She also inspired me to get a few orchids, since she had so many beautiful flowering ones decorating her home. In fact, she belonged to the Orchid Society of Greater St. Louis. We went to the annual orchid show together a few times to admire the garden’s collection.

Charmaine was not one to just sit around. I’ve stopped by her home to find Charmaine with her waders on, standing in the middle of her pond, busy scrubbing away. At feeding time, her fish would swim up to the side with open mouths and say, “Feed me, feed me!” One season, her pond even had a resident turtle that she swears just showed up out of nowhere. We enjoyed his competing for a bite to eat along with the fish.

Another one of Charmaine’s hobbies was the winter wonderland village that she set up in her living room each November for the holidays. It was a sight to behold – so beautiful! She would enlist her son Dennis to bring up all the storage boxes from the basement and put the display tables in place. Then, over a few weeks’ time, she would put it all together. Santa’s workshop, the reindeer barn, little specialty shops and ice skaters were just a few of the attractions that had twinkling lights and moving figures.

Some of our HSCSS members were lucky enough to be invited to Charmaine’s to see her fun display. While you were visiting, she might have also shown you her snowman collection and her elephant collection. All were on display in a neat and orderly way.

Unfortunately the COVID pandemic, with its necessary safety restrictions, kept us from socializing in 2020 and 2021. Also, l was in Washington state to be “granny nanny” to my little grandson for nearly 11 months out of the past two years.

I will miss hearing Charmaine’s thoughts on the world around us. I’ll miss her sitting next to me at meetings and occasionally saying loudly, “I can’t hear what they’re saying, can you?”

Love and hugs, Charmaine. Rest in peace.