Denna Gerretson Chapman was a Delray native, longtime volunteer and mother of five.
She passed away not too long after she found out she was the winner of the annual Silverball Museum Holiday Pinball Giveaway.
Her son E.N. Chapman said his mother planned to have the pinball game delivered to his house as a Christmas gift.
“She was sending it to my house,” he said. “There was no space for it at her house. As a Christmas gift, she was giving it to me.”
He said he hopes when he sees the game in his home it reminds him of his mother.
“She was a great mom to all of us,” he said. “She had five kids. She was a caring mother who always thought about all of us, always helped us out and was always there to talk to. All of us kids loved her very much and we are going to miss her.”
She was a longtime volunteer in the city. She spent the last 25 years volunteering at the 100-foot-Christmas tree. It was something she did with her mother, Patricia Wodichek Gerretson.
Her mom was a student at Old School Square, where the tree is located, from 1st grade through 10th grade when they formed Seacrest High School. Her mom graduated first in her class in 1951.
It was her mom who encouraged her to be a volunteer in the city. Her son said they would volunteer together. They also helped at events like the Delray Affair and the Mark Gerretson Memorial Fishing Tournament, named after her brother.
“They try to volunteer as much as they can for the city,” he said.
Stephanie Immelman and Tiffany Mazer who organized the tree volunteers said they were devastated to hear the news about Chapman’s passing.
“She and her mother, Pat, spent countless hours greeting people at the Tree every year with Pat’s dog Rocket,” they said. “Year after year they compiled more hours Tree Greeting than any other volunteers. We could always count on Deena in a pinch. We will miss her so much and our hearts go out to Pat and Deena’s children.”
Outside of volunteering, her son said she liked to garden and make jewelry.
“She made jewelry for all the girls in the family,” her son said.
The Silverball Museum has been raffling off a free pinball game since it opened. At the beginning of the year, visitors can enter a form to win and a winner is drawn in December.
This year, the game that was being raffled off “Jumpin’ Jack Silverball Pinball Machine” was on display at Santa’s workshop at the tree.
When Deena was notified that she was the winner, she was volunteering at the tree.
“I love doing this and meeting so many people who are visiting from up north and other countries. I was so surprised when I found out I had won the pinball game. Thank you so very much for (Silverball) being a sponsor for our tree. As I write this I am greeting visitors to the tree after Christmas. Hope to see everyone next year. Happy New Year!” Deena Chapman told Silverball Museum staff upon learning the news.
When the winner was pulled, Silverball Museum staff said they were thrilled the winner was someone who devoted their time to the city, we are devastated to hear the news of her passing and our hearts and prayers are with Chapman’s family.
The game was recently delivered to Chapman’s son in following her wishes.