Erna Marguerite Munsell (nee Smulders) passed away on December 25, 2021. She was born in 1937 in Brooklyn, New York to Francis and Dolores (Lolita) Smulders (nee Crossman). She grew up in York, Pennsylvania and moved to the Sarasota/Bradenton area after graduating from York Catholic High School. An accomplished pianist, she went on to attend the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami where she graduated with a degree in Music Education. She later obtained a Master of Education degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. A committed educator, Erna taught at St. Martha’s School in Sarasota until she retired, establishing the school’s first technology lab in the 1980s. She was an active member of Sigma Alpha Iota and Kappa Kappa Iota, serving as an officer for the local chapters of both organizations. She also had a passion for needlework and spent many years knitting blankets for those in need as a member of Loving Stitches at Our Lady of the Angels Catholic Church.
Erna was fiercely independent and will be remembered for her boundless compassion and joy of life. She is survived by a son, Robert of Wilmington, DE; a daughter, Gabrielle Kirchman, son-in-law Todd Kirchman and granddaughter, Morgan of Bradenton, FL; a brother, Frank Smulders (Carol) of West Simsbury, CT; and a sister, Louise Haslund of Tacoma, WA. A memorial mass will be scheduled later this spring.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Sigma Alpha Iota Scholarship Fund (checks payable to SAI Sarasota-Manatee Alumni Chapter Scholarship Fund, C/O Carol Fetterman, Treasurer, 16634 2nd Ave East, Bradenton, FL 34212. Include “In Memory of Erna Munsell for SAI Scholarship Fund” in memo line) or to the American Heart Association, https://www.heart.org.