Gail Smithson Morschheimer, 74, of Pine Bluff, died Friday, April 11, 2014. Gail was born in Hartshorne, Oklahoma on August 12, 1939 to Mr. and Mrs. A.E. Smithson.
As a youngster, she began ballet lessons with Mrs. Jane Stamps of Durant, Oklahoma. The eight-year-old knew immediately she had found her niche. Her father’s career took the Smithson family to Fort Smith when Gail turned ten years of age. At first she was heartbroken but then learned that, providentially, Mrs. Stamps’ career also took her to Fort Smith.
During Gail’s junior high years she had the privilege of studying with noted dancers such as Lola Menzelli of Chicago and Marina Svetlova of New York. Her favorite summers were spent in Dance Camp of Oklahoma where renowned teachers throughout the country gathered to teach and exchange artistic methods.
In 1957, after graduating from Fort Smith High School (now Northside) Gail chose Tulsa University for three reasons: It was a wonderful academic school, it had a fabulous dance department, and she was chosen as assistant ballet teacher at the Damaroff Ballet School. Later that summer, Gail met the love of her life, Conner Morschheimer, while he was visiting a fraternity brother in Fort Smith. On November 29, 1958 Gail and Conner married. They soon moved to Memphis for Conner to attend Murdoch’s Cotton School. In the autumn of 1959 the young couple moved to Pine Bluff and the following June they welcomed their first daughter, Stacy. Three years later another daughter, Julia, completed their family.
Gail started the Morschheimer School of Dance in Pine Bluff in the early sixties and enjoyed teaching youngsters of all ages. One of her fondest memories was her production of The Nutcracker in 1969 where the Zebra football players danced all the male roles.
Mrs. Morschheimer’s love of teaching spilled over into other areas. She loved teaching young people in church on Wednesday afternoons. She taught adult classes as well.
Some of her past memberships include the Junior Auxiliary of Pine Bluff, the Junior League of Pine Bluff, Junior Sesame and many bridge clubs. She served on the boards of The Writer’s Colony in Eureka Springs and The Vera Lloyd Presbyterian Home in Monticello.
Survivors include her husband, Conner Morschheimer of Pine Bluff; her two daughters, Stacy Muntzel (Michael), Julia Weisbecker (Gib), both of Little Rock; and the two shining lights of her life – grandsons, Conner Weisbecker and Ben Weisbecker. She is also survived by her sister, Gloria Novinsky (Ben) of San Jose, Calif.
Pallbearers are Henry Trotter, Wayne Buckley, Howard Wiechern, John Titus, Stephen LaFrance, Jason LaFrance and Richard (Bubba) Smart.
Honorary pallbearers are the “Pairs and Spares” Sunday school class and the “All God’s Children” Sunday school class.
The family wishes to express its heartfelt gratitude to Dr. Lawrence Mendelsohn and his caring nurses, Ms. Girtha Adway, and all the loving support from friends and family.
A memorial service will be held on Wednesday, April 16th at 2:00 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Pine Bluff with Reverend David Fleming officiating by Ralph Robinson & Son Funeral Directors. The family will welcome friends at a reception in the church fellowship hall immediately following. Interment is private.
Memorials may be made to Hospice Angels, 3801 Camden Road, Chapel Village 1, Suite 12, Pine Bluff, AR 71603 or First United Methodist Church, 200 West 6th Avenue, Pine Bluff, Arkansas 71601.
Online register: www.ralphrobinsonandson.com.