What ever happened to Elsie Scheel?

The story of Elsie Scheel, the “perfect specimen” among Cornell coeds in 1912, has come back around.  What ever happened to her after her that moment of fame?  I didn’t see an answer to that question in a quick look around, so I put some tidbits together about her life beyond the headlines.

Elsie Rachel* Rebecca Scheel (b. 1888) was born to Sophie Bade Scheel and John H. Scheel of Brooklyn, their fourth child of five.  Her mother Sophie was a physician, daughter of German immigrants, practicing and teaching at the New York Medical College and Hospital for Women.  Her father John, a hydropath, is credited with coining the term “naturopathy.” So she came from a family deeply involved in health and wellness, and more than passing supportive of women’s education and suffrage.   Sophie died in 1933; Elsie’s younger sister Senie Scheel died in Florida in 1985, age 93.

Not too long after leaving Cornell, Elsie married Frederick Rudolf Hirsh, and had at least two children, Elise and John (1921-2004).  Her son John became a surgeon in Florida.

That’s about all I can find right now.  If there’s more I’m missing, drop me a note in comments.  (I’ve seen snippets of a 1991 article from BBW, apparently written by one of Elsie’s children.  But I can’t see the whole article.)

*See comments on strikethru.

6 Responses to “What ever happened to Elsie Scheel?”

  1. Emma Says:

    Did a little digging: Elsie apparently died in 1979 in Florida. She appears in the 1940 census in Mt Vernon, NY with her two children, and is listed as a secretary for a charity organization. Despite attending classes at Cornell, the highest educational attainment she reports having achieved is 4 years of high school. She was widowed in 1933–unsurprisingly, as her husband (an architect) was more than 20 years older than her. (As an interesting side note, her husband was employed by Stanford White, the man murdered by Evelyn Nesbit’s husband.) Here is a picture (and criticism of her for being overweight): http://www.fultonhistory.com/Newspaper%2014/New%20York%20NY%20Herald/New%20York%20NY%20Herald%201912/New%20York%20NY%20Herald%201912%20a%20-%201614.pdf#xml=http://www.fultonhistory.com/dtSearch/dtisapi6.dll?cmd=getpdfhits&u=35001ca7&DocId=4034126&Index=Z%3a%5cIndex%20U%2dF%2dP&HitCount=4&hits=7e7+7e8+949+94a+&SearchForm=C%3a%5cinetpub%5cwwwroot%5cFulton%5fNew%5fform%2ehtml&.pdf

    Hmm, I may be procrastinating here.

  2. pennylrichardsca Says:

    Thank you Emma! Sounds like she lived a long life like her sister did.

  3. sck Says:

    1888-1979?! Wow!

  4. Zandra Says:

    So much for women who are considered overweight not living a long time. As Elsie died at 91 years of age, I guess she was unhealthy and could not have possibly lived for a long time. Yeah, right.

  5. Tam Says:

    This article clearly states that her name was Elsie Rebecca Scheel. Different person? http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=8-1fAAAAIBAJ&sjid=AgMGAAAAIBAJ&pg=1468%2C668285

  6. pennylrichardsca Says:

    No, just my slip–I typed Rachel instead of Rebecca. I rechecked the links, the daughter of Sophie Scheel was definitely Elsie Rebecca Scheel.

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