By Sallie James
BOCA RATON — She was a military wife who traversed Europe with two young children. A trailblazing lover of native plants who authored a book on Florida wildflowers and an adventurer who once talked her way into a party in France to meet renowned artist Pablo Picasso.
Longtime Boca Raton resident Arlene Adams Schuyler died at home Jan. 1 of natural causes. She was 95.
Mrs. Schuyler was born on Aug. 3, 1927, in Kingston, Pennsylvania, to Adele and William Adams. She attended school in Forty Fort, Pennsylvania, and then studied art at Pratt Institute in New York City. She later attended the International Summer Academy of Fine Arts in Salzburg, Austria.
In 1955, she married Army Capt. Francis “Frank” Schuyler of Miami. The couple moved to Munich, Germany, in 1959, where they eventually adopted their son and daughter, said Mrs. Schuyler’s son, Cortlandt.
Cortlandt and his sister, Victoria, spent much of their youth hopscotching around Europe as a result of their father’s military career. They lived for different periods in Munich; Naples, Italy; Nice, France; the Alps of Switzerland, and in San Francisco before settling in Boca Raton in 1971.
Mrs. Schuyler was preceded in death by her husband, who died of a heart attack on Feb. 13, 1998.
Arlene Schuyler was an early advocate of using native plants in landscaping and wrote and illustrated a paperback, Wildflowers — South Florida Natives, which was published in January 1982. She sold the books for $8 apiece, her son recalled.
“The book was beautiful,” he said.
Cortlandt Schuyler remembered his mother as a free spirit who supported the feminist movement, encouraged childhood entrepreneurship and took chances for adventure, like the time she went out of her way to meet Picasso.
Cortlandt said he was 5 years old when his mother and her friend drove him and his sister to Picasso’s home in Nice. They parked their old Volkswagen on a hill and walked up to his house, hoping to get in. They did.
“My sister and I sat in the back of this old VW they had and they went down and visited his home,” Cortlandt said. “Somehow they got in. I think he had something going on down at his house.”
He recalled his mother as a staunch supporter of his childhood money-making endeavors that included everything from reselling candy bars from the drugstore on the school bus, to delivering newspapers or working at a local hotel.
“When I was a little tiny kid she would double whatever I would earn. When it got to like $50 she had to stop,” her son recalled.
“She was very, very well-spoken, very, very educated. A big reader,” Cortlandt said. He said she enjoyed nature shows on TV, educational channels, watercolor painting and always books, books, books.
“She loved her independence and liked doing her own thing,” her son said.
Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery, alongside her husband. She is survived by her two children and four grandchildren: Molly, Serena, Kyle and Celia. Glick Family Funeral Home in Boca Raton handled arrangements.