Wilhelmina Vollmerhausen, a longtime Bethpage resident who volunteered in the...

Wilhelmina Vollmerhausen, a longtime Bethpage resident who volunteered in the community, died on Feb. 16 at age 91. Credit: Vollmerhausen family

Wilhelmina "Willa" Vollmerhausen, a longtime Bethpage resident devoted to volunteer work, her church and her family, died at Plainview Hospital of cardiopulmonary arrest on Feb. 16 at age 91.

She had remained independent until the past three years, said her son, Otto Vollmerhausen, an airline pilot with a home in Volusia County, Florida. Her husband, also named Otto, whom she married in 1951, predeceased her in 2008.

"She was a positive, sweet, loving, witty woman," said her nephew William DeLauro, of Austin, Texas. "She just gave to others, she was all about family. We were so lucky."

She retired in 1991 as billing and advertising coordinator for a Mineola company that owned local newspapers.

She and her husband joined the Bethpage Senior Club shortly before his retirement in 1989 as a metallurgist with Grumman. Over the next two decades, Willa Vollmerhausen served in roles from recording secretary to president of the club, helping to organize its activities, recruit new members and negotiate space for the club in the Bethpage Senior Community Center. In 2007, she was presented with the Nassau County "Spirit of Senior Centers" award.

She was equally active at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethpage, where she was a member of the altar guild and the stewardship committee. "She used to have a bumper sticker on her car saying, ‘Follow me to salvation,’ " recalled DeLauro. "She had a very strong faith."

Born Wilhelmina DeLauro in South Ozone Park, Queens, on Nov. 4, 1930, she was named for her mother, who died after giving birth to her. Willa lived with relatives while her three older brothers remained in a Lutheran orphanage until the remarriage of their father, Alfonse, who repaired Staten Island ferries before teaching industrial arts. He converted the family to the Lutheran faith that became a focal point of Willa’s life.

Otto and Wilhelmina Vollmerhausen were married in 1951. He predeceased...

Otto and Wilhelmina Vollmerhausen were married in 1951. He predeceased her in 2008. Credit: Vollmerhausen family

After her marriage, she moved in with her in-laws in Hicksville while her husband served in the military. The couple bought their Bethpage home in 1954, and their son was born in 1959.

"My mother was a person who had many interests," said her son, who added his parents were in a bowling league for many years. "She was a talented artist primarily in oil paintings. They are on the walls of her home, and I will treasure them."

Niece Linda DeLauro, of Wyandanch, described her aunt as "another mother" to the children and grandchildren of her three older brothers, Warren, Calvin and Elliot DeLauro, who all predeceased her. She was present for all of their birthdays, graduations, christenings, holidays and funerals with cards, gifts and good advice.

"She had a sense of values, the old-fashioned type values, and she instilled that in all of us," her niece said. "She liked the old-fashioned music from the ’40s and ’50s, Frank Sinatra, the big bands. She liked her church music, too. ‘The Golden Girls,’ she loved that show. She and my Uncle Calvin would watch the repeats and have a good old time."

Her relatives recalled her as an excellent cook, an accomplished gardener with "the most beautiful flower garden you’ve ever seen," said William DeLauro. She loved her pet felines and, he said, even fed the strays that wandered in from the cat door.

"She will truly be missed," Linda DeLauro said. "I know she’s dancing with my Uncle Otto. That’s what gets you through these things."

Besides her son, nieces and nephews, she is survived by a sister-in-law, Lois DeLauro of Wyandanch; and numerous grandnephews and grandnieces.

Visitation will be Thursday from 2 to 4 p.m. and 7 to 9 p.m. at Arthur F. White Funeral Home in Bethpage. Her funeral will take place Friday at 10 a.m. at St. Paul Evangelical Lutheran Church in Bethpage, with interment to follow at Pinelawn Memorial Park. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in her name to St. Paul Lutheran Church, 449 Stewart Ave., Bethpage, NY 11714.

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