Maria Hermione Washer, retired


LONG BEACH — Maria Hermione Ansmann Wallden Washer, 106, died Dec. 16, 2006, in Gulfport.


Services were held Dec. 20 at First United Methodist Church with burial in Evergreen Cemetery in Gulfport.


Born on Feb. 3, 1900, in the free state of Oldenberg (now part of Germany), she was the oldest of seven children to Elise and Ferdinand Ansmann.


She met Fred Washer in 1926 when she arrived in New York City while working with a family caring for their son. The Washers were married in 1928 in New York City.


At the time of their marriage, Mr. Washer was a deep sea pilot dispatcher in New York. In 1933, he was sent to work in the port in Mobile and later to Houston. His working life came to an end in Houston as he lost his eyesight to retinitus pigmentosa, leaving him legally blind and Mrs. Washer as the sole support for the family.


During this time, Mrs. Washer was active in the Business & Professional Women’s Club. She worked for the U.S. government during the years before and after World War II. She did engraving for names and numbers on copper instrument boards for ships and planes, as well as diplomas for universities for a wage of 11 cents an hour.


After World War II ended, Mrs. Washer sold Real Silk products. She soon developed a clientele of doctors, nurses and other professionals. Mrs. Washer retired from Real Silk at age 75.


Mrs. Washer also opened a bakery from her home, making grooms’ cakes, wedding cakes, cheesecakes and fruitcakes.


Mr. Washer was a member of the Masonic Order, Knights of the Templar and served as a chaplain at the hospitals, especially the Crippled Children’s Hospital. As a prelate commandery, he held Masonic funerals across the Houston area. Mrs. Washer drove him to these hospitals and became a member herself of the Christian Sisters as a wife of a Knight of the Templar and the Social Order of the Beauceant. She continued her work with this group from 1945 in Houston and the Mississippi Gulf Coast for the next 50 years. She received a testimonial for 50 years of service and a red cross broach from the brethren. For years, she wore the red cross to church on Communion Sundays.


The Washers returned to Gulfport in 1956. They joined First United Methodist Church in Long Beach, where Mrs. Washer promptly began participating in many activities, such as the United Methodist Women, the OAKS (Older Adults-Kindred Spirits) and the Kitchen Band playing a washboard with thimbles on her fingers.

She traveled to many area nursing homes carrying cakes and candy bars to the patients, as well as sharing Bible readings and stories. She would write letters to their relatives for them.


Mr. Washer died in 1979; the Washers did not have children. Although Mrs. Washer outlived many relatives, her many friends at church and her neighbors were always family to her.


In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Sunday Fund of the Mississippi Methodist Senior Services, 109 South Broadway, P.O. Box 1567, Tupelo, MS 38802-1567.