A Eulogy to Genevieve Mayer Hummel
written by her son Bill

Genevieve M. Hummel

Genevieve Mayer Hummel was born April 18, 1909 in Buffalo.  She did not like “Genevieve.”  She was “Gene.”  To me, she was “Mom.”  Her community (Lake View), her family (Mayers and Hummels), and her religion (Catholic), marked the margins of Gene’s life.  



She was a charter member of the Altar and Rosary Society of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church, and of the Lake View Community Association.  My Mom participated fully in the village of Lake View, including contributing to “The ABC’s of Cooking.”  I remember her typing recipes for this Cook Book.  She had been a legal secretary and could type at a blazing speed.

When Gene was a child, the Mayer family spent summers in Idlewood, renting on North Creek Rd. just west Burke Road.  At the end of one summer, my grandmother declared to my grandfather, Ed Mayer, “I don’t want to go back to Buffalo.”  So, Ed bought the house on Lake View Road across from the Congregational Church and caught the trolley to Buffalo to go to work.  

Gene was the eldest of six Mayer children and she willingly accepted the responsibilities that came with her status, including working to help support the family during the Great Depression.  Probably as a result of living through the Depression era, Gene was notorious not letting anything go to waste in her kitchen.  If the bread had gone stale, Gene soaked it in something and ate it.  If it got moldy, she cut out the moldy part, and ate the rest.  “Waste not, want not!” she would say.

In her youth, the tennis court at the Mayer’s house was a Lake View gathering place on summer days, I’m told.  Gene’s household chores allowed her little time for tennis, but her brothers, Ed and Bob, seemed to have had plenty of time, and they were quite good players.  The story is told about the occasion of the Notre Dame University tennis team playing at Wanakah Country Club, sometime in the 1930’s.  As I understand it, a challenge was made for a match against the Mayer boys—and accepted.  The match took place at the Mayer’s Lake View tennis court, amid a certain amount of fanfare, one summer Sunday afternoon.  There are two versions of who won, but in my Mom’s version, “Why, my brothers, Edward and Robert, won!”

Gene was a devout Catholic.  As a girl, some called her the “Saint of Lake View,” and everyone figured that she would become a Catholic nun.  Entering the convent, though, was delayed by the responsibility of helping to support her family.  Next, one of the neighborhood tennis players, Gordon Hummel, married her.  Gordon, by the way, was no Saint!  

It must be true that opposites attract, I guess, since Gordon and Gene’s personalities were dissimilar in many respects.  Gene was matter-of-fact.  Everything had its place and had to be in its place.  She carried herself with poise and practiced proper etiquette.  Her temperament was as constant as mother earth.  Gordon was multi-faceted.  His personality was expansive but volatile, and his intellect was substantial.  He loved theater and opera, appreciated art, took great pleasure in traveling, and read voraciously.  At the same time, he could explode in a rage in a flash.  (Somewhere we have a Brownie snapshot of him and Phil Staats, with broken knuckles and black eyes.  I don’t know the reason for the altercation, but the occasion was the yearly Lake View Firemen’s carnival.)  

Both Gordon and Gene shared one trait equally: generosity.  After Gordon had died and Gene was in her 80’s, my brother took care of her accounts.  On occasion he had to warn her that if she continued donating to charities at the current rate, she would soon have nothing left, and she might have to live off charity herself!  

Gene’s interests were simple interests—home, family, and religion.  Yet, she dutifully accompanied my father on travel adventures to Europe, South America, Cuba (coincident with Castro’s revolution), Japan, Egypt, India, and even an African Safari.  They always traveled first class.  She and Gordon lodged at the Palace Hotel in Madrid, drank Dom Perignon Champagne in Reims, and ate Sacher tortes in Vienna, yet my Mom never thought of herself as anything but ordinary.

Gordon and Gene’s last collaboration was building a retirement home in Great Valley, in Cattaraugus County.  They built the house pretty much by themselves.  Gordon was architect, engineer, carpenter, and jobsite foreman—Gene was the laborer.  She was already in her 60’s!  

Gordon and Gene had five children and they shared over 33 years of marriage, until Gordon’s untimely death at 58.  They never had the chance to live together in their retirement home.  

Gene passed away on June 6, 2003 at the age of 94.    © Bill Hummel 2006




Send comments or questions re: this webpage to sbmerk at verizon.net
© Copyright 1999-2022 Last Update: 02/27/2022