In Memoriam: Dec. 1

Louis T. Choquette, Jr., 89, Vero Beach

Louis T. Choquette, Jr., 89, of Vero Beach, passed away peacefully at VNA Hospice House on Nov. 27, 2017. Lou was born to Louis and Alice Choquette at Fort Adams in Newport, R.I., on May 28, 1928.

He was a graduate of Rogers High School, graduating from Springfield College in Springfield, Mass., with a degree in physical education.

Lou served in the Army during the Korean War, was a true patriot and proud to be an American. Collecting military patches and insignias was his passion and he dedicated his collections to the Artillery Company Museum in Newport, R.I.

He was also an avid golfer and tennis player.

For more than 38 years Lou dedicated himself to helping young and old at the YMCA in Stamford, Ct., Red Bank, N.J., Summit, N.J., retiring as Executive Director of the Lakeland Hills YMCA in Mt. Lakes, N.J., in 1988.

He was treasurer for the Indian River County Senior Good Life Games for 14 years, and participated in the “Winners Walk Tall” program at Dodgertown Elementary School.

He is survived by his loving wife, Barbara Willey; brother, Ronald Choquette, of Lighthouse Point, 11 step-children and their families.

He will be sadly missed.

In lieu of flowers contributions may be made to VNA & Hospice Foundation, 1110 35th Lane, Vero Beach, FL 32960.


Kathleen Hendrix, 70, Sebastian

Kathleen Hendrix, 70, of Sebastian, passed away Nov. 28, 2017.

A visitation will be held Monday, Dec. 4, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. at Seawinds Funeral Home, 735 S. Fleming Street, Sebastian, with a funeral service to follow at 1:30 p.m. in the chapel. Burial will take place at Sebastian Cemetery, 1921 N. Central Ave., Sebastian, after the funeral.



Jo Ann ‘Big Mama’ Sinco Schlitt, 79, Vero Beach

Jo Ann “Big Mama” Sinco Schlitt, 79, of Vero Beach, passed away Nov. 29, 2017, in Savannah, Ga. She was born Nov. 2, 1938, in Miami.

She was married to Robert Schlitt for more than 59 years and the mother of 14 children, including Peggy (predeceased). She was sister to Andrea (deceased) and Russell (Denise) Sinco; grandmother of 21; great-grandmother of seven and one on the way; and foster mother of over 400 children.

In the 1970s, she was a matriarch of the newly established Division of Youth Services (DYS) in Vero Beach. Jo Ann was the connection to Vero’s teen scene.

It all started in McAnsh Park when the neighborhood paperboy told Jo Ann his mother was moving to Phoenix and he planned to stay behind to surf. She was granted legal guardianship, which started her passion for foster parenting.

Jo Ann’s biggest asset was listening to the teens. She made them feel wanted and important.  The paperboy, like so many of his teenage friends, were struggling to discover why their parents who grew up with nothing in the ’30s and war in the ’40s were so buried in their careers and didn’t take time to discover the special people their children were.

As soon as Jo Ann and Bob ‘Big Daddy’ moved into a larger home on State Road 60/20th Street, teens were “crashing out” on the living room couches and in the rehabbed garage. As long as they would talk to Big Mamma and allow her to evaluate their underlying problems, they could stick around for a few days and she would counsel them and try to mend the gap with their parents.

Soon they were a foster home for the DYS and Vero’s children from strained or disrupted homes flowed in and out. During this period of time, as many as 23 people lived in the home at one time.

Dinner was mandatory and Big Mamma was a pro. Last night’s spaghetti quickly became chili the next night, and then sloppy joes for the following lunch. Sometimes never leaving the giant restaurant sized pot.

Her Cuban-Miami roots taught her sewing skills that rival the best out there and she was the thriftiest housewife in Vero. One trip to Lion Country Safari included all the girls in homemade faux giraffe fur dresses and the boys in faux alligator skin pants and vests.

No one was ever turned away, one trip all the way to Canada included a neighbor making it a total of 11 in a VW van with a pull behind camper for a month.

Her Catholic beliefs were instilled in everyone around her. As chaos of the 17-plus-member household grew, she used the beach as an easy way to appease large crowds. Her days were filled with phone calls from people reaching out needing direction.

Once, a friend called and said, “I just shot myself.” A manic depressive who hadn’t been diagnosed was told by Jo Ann to keep talking into the phone and yelled “BOB go next door and call an ambulance.” The woman lived and remained a close friend for many more years.

She raised everyone under the belief of “be yourself” do what you feel is right yet be aware of the consequences of your actions. Every child was allowed to go their own direction and they all have excelled in their professions.

Jo Ann Schlitt wanted everyone to get along and refused to allow anyone to have a negative attitude or feel left out. She started a biannual mandatory Christmas vacation that has included over 50 of her descendants taking a chartered bus to various locations around Florida for four days.

Once the kids were grown, Jo Ann and Bob hit the roads to see the country, getting to all states except Alaska. Stop-ins to or from family, were continuous.  Fitting with the ’70s “Peace and Love” theme, they found respite in their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains, their piece of “Heaven on Earth.”

A viewing and wake service will be held on Monday, Dec. 4 from 5 – 8 p.m., service at 7:30, and a funeral on Tuesday, Dec. 5, at 10 a.m., both will be held at St. Helen Catholic Church with reception to follow at the Heritage Center, 2140 14th Ave., Vero Beach.

Join us in wearing bright colors, Polynesian attire, Guayaberas and the like.

In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the charity of your choice.


Alan W. Vail, 71, Vero Beach

Alan W. Vail, 71, of Vero Beach, passed away on Nov. 29, 2017. He was born in Binghamton, N.Y., on Dec. 30, 1945, spent 20 years living full-time in Cape Vincent, N.Y. and moved to Vero Beach in 2016.

He is pre-deceased by his parents, Jack and Alice Vail; as well as a brother, Steve.

He is survived by his wife of 29 years, Jennifer (Lauder); his children, Ingrid Stubbs, Scott Lauder Strazik (Jennifer Schannault), and Russell Vail (Michelle); eight grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and his beloved Cockapoo, JC. Survivors also include siblings, Jack D. Vail, Walter W. Vail and Susan (Vail) Swope.

He attended Binghamton (Central) High School and then graduated from Laurel Crest Prep school. He studied business at the University of Denver and graduated with a BSBA from Southampton College.

Following college, he worked at Garrett Buchanan Paper Company in Philadelphia, then became a General Manager at Seneca Paper Co. in Binghamton, prior to taking on the role of V.P. of Sales and Marketing at Officenter, Inc. He then “switched gears” to become a Financial Advisor and franchise owner at Ameriprise Financial, for 15 years.

Alan had a passion for learning, was an avid reader and always showed a keen interest in not only the business world, but in sports and in all people in general. His sense of humor and warmth endeared him to all who knew him.

He loved boating on the St. Lawrence River as well as sailing in the Caribbean. He never tired of traveling to as many places as possible and when at home was happiest when he was working on “projects,” including completely remodeling and reconstructing their 1820 home in his “spare” time. He was never bored!

Although the last five years have been a struggle for Alan physically, he still loved life and his family and friends…and they loved him. He will be sorely and lovingly missed.

A “celebration of life” will be held this summer in the Thousand Islands. Memorial contributions in his memory may be made to: VNA Hospice House (1110 35th Lane, V.B. 32960) or Community Church of Vero Beach (1901 23rd St., V.B. 32960) or Carolina Poodle Rescue (6705 Union Highway, Pacolet, S.C. 29372).

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