Ute Hargreaves


Ute Hargreaves died in Sarasota, Fla., on Nov. 2, 2018. She was 89 years old.

Ute was born Ute Hertha Ziemer, on June 26, 1929, in Schmalkalden, Thuringia, in Germany. Her parents, Friedrich Ziemer and Christine Schirmeyer Ziemer, were both doctors. Ute recalled times in the pre–World War II economy when a number of her parents’ patients had little cash and would barter for medical services. Her lifelong aversion to goat cheese dated to a time when many patients offered the pungent cheese as payment. Ute proudly traced her family history to czarist Russia, at a time when German immigrants constituted the educated professional class in a society otherwise composed of aristocrats and peasants. Her ancestors lived in St. Petersburg for nearly a century, before returning to Germany.

During World War II, Ute attended the Max Rill Gymnasium in Reichesbeuern, Bavaria, a private girls’ school housed in a castle that dates to the time of Charlemagne. Her mother was the school physician. Her father served as a doctor in the German army, and died shortly after the war after contracting hepatitis. Upon her graduation, Ute moved to Munich, where she attended secretarial school. She then took a job with the International Refugee Organization, a body responsible for the resettlement of over 10 million persons displaced by World War II, which was later replaced by the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Ute subsequently left the IRO to work for the U.S. Army as a simultaneous translator. She met a young American serviceman named John (“Jack”) Hargreaves, who had been posted to Munich. They eventually became engaged. Jack returned to the U.S. when his tour of duty was completed, and Ute followed, leaving her family behind and landing in New York in June 1957. Her arrival on American soil is commemorated on the Ellis Island American Immigrant Wall of Honor.

Ute and Jack were married in Storrs, Conn., on July 13, 1957. A year later, Ute gave birth to their son, John. Daughters Christine and Anne followed. Over time, the family moved from Scituate to Plainville, Conn.; Allentown, Pa.; Sao Paulo, Brazil; Windsor, England; West Hartford, Conn.; back to Sao Paulo; and Chapel Hill, N.C.. Ute and Jack eventually retired to Sarasota, Fla. With each move, Ute successfully created a loving home environment, developed a network of friends, and planned extensive family travel. She was involved in the local community in each place she lived. She served as a Boy Scout and a Girl Scout leader, an art museum docent, a Welcome Wagon volunteer, a garden club member, and a youth symphony volunteer. She was an active member of the Landings Learning Group and a decades-long member of the Landoliers Chorus, both in Sarasota. An arts enthusiast, she frequently attended symphony and opera performances.

In 1978, after several years of renting in the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association’s Campground, Ute and Jack bought a home on Martha’s Vineyard’s East Chop. The home remains in the family to this day, and is enjoyed by Ute and Jack’s children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Ute was active in the East Chop community as a member of the East Chop Tennis Club and East Chop Beach Club, and as secretary of the East Chop Association. Ute was also a member of the Martha’s Vineyard Garden Club, and attended Sunday services at Union Chapel.

Ute reveled in her many friends, attending social gatherings and hosting dinners and parties in the various homes she and Jack made together. Toward the end of every event she hosted, Ute pulled out her guestbook and prevailed upon each visitor to sign it. The pages of her multiple guestbooks are filled with poems, drawings, anecdotes, and the creative musings of the many people who passed through the doors of the Hargreaves’ home, sharing in the warmth and hospitality that Ute lovingly created throughout her lifetime.

Ute is survived by Jack, her husband of 61 years; her children John Hargreaves, Christine Hargreaves Ewing, and Anne Hargreaves Corley; her grandchildren Heather Ewing Lane, Celeste Ewing, and John Corley; and her great-grandchildren Ava, Kyla, and Ella Lane.