Mrs. Lavalette D. Wintzer, known fondly as "Lav," age 98, of Hockessin, Del., wife of prominent DuPont Company executive Fred E. "Fritz" Wintzer Sr., passed away on Tuesday, August 13, 2013.
Lav was born in Indian Rock, Va., on Oct. 9, 1914, daughter of the late Mary Morton Dillon and Lucius Polk Dillon, and received her bachelor’s degree from the prestigious Sweet Briar (Va.) College. She moved to Delaware with her husband in 1945 and proudly supported his career as a senior executive in DuPont’s plastics division. They lived for a time on Brecks Lane before moving to Guyencourt Road in Montchanin. (From 1960 to 1964, they also made their home in Geneva, Switzerland, while Fritz headed DuPont’s European plastics division.)
Lav was a leader in the Delaware arts community for many years and supported the founding of the influential Carspecken-Scott Gallery in Wilmington. She personally commissioned noted local artist Anne Burrough for a painting of the train depot near their home on Guyencourt Road. The family later presented this important work to Governor Jack Markell.
Her passion for both art and history led her to volunteer with Winterthur Museum and Library, the Brandywine River Museum, and the Delaware Art Museum. She was also well known for her expertise in antiques and historically accurate restoration. Thanks to her efforts, the Wintzer home ("Villa Von Baumbach") in Elkhart Lake, Wis., was listed on the National Register of Historic Places during the family’s tenure.
An avid and innovative gardener throughout her life, Lav served as a consultant with Longwood Gardens for many years. More recently, she was the driving force behind the cultivation of the stunning wildflower garden that once surrounded the reflecting pond at Cokesbury Village. Other favorite pastimes in earlier years included both golf and skiing.
Though Lav suffered a debilitating stroke in 2007, she regained her health through her positive outlook and the loving efforts of her son, Fred, who brought favorite travel videos for her to watch each day. Her renewed vigor gave her a cheerful and fulfilling life for the past five years—during which time she remained the top bridge player at Cokesbury Village!
With her gregarious nature, keen intelligence, and creative spirit, Lavalette easily won friends wherever she went. Her enthusiasm for life was infectious and made her a favorite companion of young people, who found her joyful outlook both captivating and inspirational. This is the beautiful legacy that she leaves to those many people who were fortunate to have known this great and gracious lady.
Lavalette’s beloved husband Fritz passed away in 1987. She is survived by her children, Fred Wintzer Jr. of Newark, Del., Charles Wintzer (Mary) of Park City, Utah, and Eliza Wintzer of Ketchikan, Alaska; granddaughter, Hallie Facey (Andy), and grandson, David Wintzer.
A memorial service will be held in the fall in Elkhart Lake, Wis.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Winterthur, c/o Development Office, Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library, Winterthur, Del. 19735.