March 23, 1921 ~ February 2, 2017
Elwanda “Skippy” Sylvia (Downing) Fortmeyer, 95, passed away February 2, 2017 at the Catholic Care Center in Wichita, Kansas. She was born on March 23, 1921 on her family’s farm near Renfrow, Oklahoma.
Growing up in an extended farming family during the Great Depression, Skippy worked the fields with her parents, Francis B. and Rosa E. (Kottas) Downing, and three siblings, Naomi (“Pat”), Harley (“Bud”), and Georgia. Legend has she was also fond of skipping around the farm, leading her father to dub her “Skipper,” which changed over time to “Skippy,” a name that would stick for life. After attending District 17, a rural school near Renfrow, Oklahoma, she spent two years at Gore Consolidated High School before graduating from Medford High School in Medford, Oklahoma, in 1938. Upon turning 18 the next year, she moved to Wichita where she attended Wichita Business College and worked full-time at Beech Aircraft in the materials control department. During World War II, she was active with the United Service Organization in Kansas, volunteered as a nurse’s assistant at Wesley Hospital, and helped support her family in Oklahoma. On January 15, 1946, after a courtship of nearly seven years, she was united in marriage to Ralph Henry Fortmeyer at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Medford. They settled on the Fortmeyer family farm just south of Caldwell in Grant County, Oklahoma along the Chisholm Trail. The following 45 years were dedicated to raising their four children, Joan, Joseph, Mary, and Michael and being an integral part of the farming operation with Ralph.
In the mid 1960’s, Elwanda began a part-time position at the Caldwell Hospital as a nurse aide. She continued her employment at Sumner County Hospital District #1, working her way to becoming full-time as the hospital’s office manager before her retirement.
Elwanda was a member of St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church and St. Martin’s Altar Society. Elwanda continued to support the hospital as a member of the SCH#1 Volunteer Auxiliary and was an active member of Starlight Study Club.
Always ambitious, Skippy was a talented artist, with particular interests in landscape and flower genre painting, and was also an amazing cook (especially to her grandchildren) with definitive recipes for homemade chicken and noodles, fried chicken, strawberry shortcake, cinnamon rolls, and traditional Czech kolaches. An expert seamstress, for over 50 years, she maintained a dedicated sewing room at the family farmhouse and then, following the death of her husband, in her home in Caldwell where she produced closets full of clothes, costumes, linens, and blankets for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Intensely dedicated to her family, she took special joy in passing on her passions. She was an avid fan of her grandchildren and great grandchildren, regularly attending their activities and sporting events.
Elwanda was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Ralph Henry Fortmeyer; son, Michael; brother, Bud Downing; and sister, Georgia Dacus. She is survived by her three children, Joan ( Frank) Hoover of Wichita, KS, Joseph (Patricia) Fortmeyer of Andover, KS and Mary (Gage) Overall of Caldwell, KS; her sister, Pat Schmitz of Medford, OK; eight grandchildren, Justin, Russell, Frank, Alissa, Lindsey, Brent, Chris and Megan; 12 great-grandchildren; and many nieces and nephews.
Graveside services are planned for February 18, 2017 at 11:30 a.m. at the Caldwell City Cemetery. Memorials have been established with Sumner County Hospital District #1, Caldwell, KS and St. Martin of Tours Catholic Church, Caldwell, KS.
Sending our deepest sympathy
Casie Risley - 02/03/2017
I always enjoyed seeing Skippy at the grocery store as she always had a smile that helped brighten my day. She was truly a great person and that I enjoyed talking with. Sending our thoughts and prayers to her family.
Cliff and Casie Risley
Kathy Kloefkorn... - 02/12/2017
I am so sorry for your loss. I wish you peace. Prayers to all.
May God bless. A long time family friend.
Mary Holomek Kern - 02/12/2017
Prayers and peace to the family
Mary and families,
Gayle Struble - 02/13/2017
Skippy was a wonderful lady and will be missed greatly by all. She was there with us when we brought Sandy, Carrie and Joe into the world and many other local kid's I'm sure. Sending prayers of comfort and love to all.
Gayle and Denny Struble and Families
Thinking of your family today
Debbie Beran - 02/18/2017
Mary and family I'm thinking of you all today I know it will be rough. Skippy was such a great lady and I know you will miss her terribly.
I have lots of wonderful
Tess - 02/24/2017
I have lots of wonderful memories of Skippy! She was a wonderful lady!