CAPE CORAL, Fla. - Leora Ann "Lee" Senn, 88, who co-founded the Ladies' Auxiliary at the Maumee River Yacht Club, and later in life out of financial necessity made the transition from housewife to jewelry salesman, died at Cape Coral Hospital on Dec. 20 after a brief illness.
A son, Charles Senn, said the family did not know the exact cause of her death.
Mrs. Senn's husband, the late Larry Senn, was president of the former Buckeye Toy and Sporting Goods Company and was a past commodore of the Maumee River Yacht Club in South Toledo.
While there had been a ladies' auxiliary at Maumee River dating back to 1929, it did not become officially affiliated with the club until 1958, under the leadership of Mrs. Senn and co-founder Rubine Bowers. The yacht club was a principal element in the Senns' social life, and Mr. Senn was commodore at the time Mrs. Senn founded the auxiliary.
Mr. Senn left the sporting goods business in the early 1970s, and the couple moved to Florida where he undertook a new business venture, Charles Senn said.
That experience was short-lived, however, and they returned to Toledo in 1975.
"He lost most of his assets, and they came back to Toledo with their tail between their legs," their son said. "And that's when my mother decided to go to work."
With her five children now grown, Mrs. Senn starting working in the late 1970s as a salesperson for Osterman Jewelers, in what is now Westfield Franklin Park Mall.
Despite the circumstances that brought her into the workforce, Mrs. Senn was not bitter, and enjoyed her job and took it very seriously, her son recalled.
"I think she looked at it as a challenge and a new thing to do," he said. "She took it upon herself to not just be there, but to educate herself about jewelry - to learn about diamonds, jewels, settings, and stones."
She retired in 1989, and moved with her husband to North Ft. Myers, Fla. Mr. Senn preceded her in death in 1997, after 57 years of marriage.
Mrs. Senn was born in Hodgenville, Ky., and moved to Toledo with her family during the 1920s. She graduated from Notre Dame Academy in the mid-1930s, and worked for a few years as a secretary with the Toledo Public Schools.
Her other interests included opera, classical music, flower gardening, and the Bible.
Surviving Mrs. Senn are daughters, Carol Landversicht, Mary Dee Wiseman, and Lynne Dundon; sons, Charles Senn and Michael Senn; nine grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren.
The Harvey-Engelhardt-Metz Funeral Home, Cape Coral, is handling arrangements.
A funeral service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at St. Therese Church in North Ft. Myers.
The family suggests tributes to Notre Dame Academy or Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, Toledo.