GREENVILLE—The catchphrase, “Avon Calling,” will still be going strong if a Greenville woman has anything to say about it.
Linda Mikesell-Schatz, who turned 83 on Sept. 7, has been selling Avon products for 50 years and has no plans on retiring anytime soon. Two of those earlier years she had sold for Louanna Boyer, who retired.
“Louanna got me into the business,” said Mikesell-Schatz, a Greenville resident, who used to go house-to-house as well as sold her products at her work place, Fram; at the courthouse; at Family Health and still does, not to mention her regular customers.
In addition to doing her Avon sales at one point, she also took care of her son, Gene Mikesell, who had been living with her until his death at the age of 60 on May 11, 2021.
“I took care of him until the day he died,” said the grieving mother, who has a large framed picture of him in her living room.
Linda has been widowed twice; the first time when husband Ralph Mikesell died in 1984, and the second time to Bill Schatz, who died April 6, 2012, of Parkinson’s. Mikesell is the father of her five children, Kathy Fantasia, Gene, Jane Dowler, Todd Mikesell and Susan Jones. She also has 10 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
She met her second husband, who was one of the managers of Eikenberry’s IGA.
“We were married almost 23 years when he died,” she said.
Mikesell-Schatz worked at Fram for 33 years, retiring Nov. 1, 2001. Then, she began working for her daughter, who owns Kathy’s Restaurant in town, for 10 years.
“I still have all my energy,” said Linda, who recently attended her 65th class reunion. “I began selling Avon before I went to Fram. I’ve always been a salesperson. I would rather sell stuff and cook. I sold magazines for a class when I graduated in 1957 from Greenville. I wish, if I had time, I could have been in real estate.”
She even sold RubberMaid when they held parties.
Linda has lived at her present address for 36 years, now with her dog a Yorkie named Little Roxie, which had belonged to her daughter. She bought the house two years after her first husband died.
“I worked second shift at Fram and was bumped to third and I retired. I didn’t like third shift,” she said. “I have been so lucky. I had all these friends. I don’t sit around.”
Avon’s Skin So Soft has been one of the most popular items she sells in Avon. She started out selling basic makeup and perfume.
“An appliance company bought us out,” she said, adding that business is slow right now.
“I used to sell $1500 every week; now it’s $500.” she said. “I was the number one woman in sales for 20 years.”
Her hard work paid off, though.
“I won a trip to Alaska before Bill died and I won TVs,” she said. “I met a lot of wonderful people along the way.”
Family means the world to her.
“I had over 100 birthday wishes on Facebook the other day,” she said.
She said her son, Gene, bought her a 75-inch TV for Mother’s Day and he died two days after that.
“I have five wonderful kids; all of them take care of me,” she said. “Last Sunday, we went to Outback and one of them made me a wishing well. When we came back home, Sue had made two butterscotch pies from scratch and there was pizza on the table so I wouldn’t be alone on my birthday. My granddaughter, Ella Manning, brought friends here and I got to talking with them. I asked them if they go to church and they said they didn’t. Later, they called me up and said they were going to church with me on Sunday. On my birthday, those kids came and all gave me a birthday present, and I was about ready to cry. They brought me snacks and sunflowers. They said, ‘We love you, granny,’ and they just met me.”
She indicated that her grandchildren in Nashville called her on her birthday as well.
Linda likes to hang out at her daughter’s restaurant and attends Triumphant Christian Center.
“Four of us girls go to Kathy’s for breakfast and pray for each other,” said Linda, who is always making brownies for people. “This started right before the virus and we still meet. The restaurant never closed for the virus and was open during the day.”
The former Linda Roth, she was the oldest of five children and always lived in the county. Their parents were Lawrence and Loretta Roth. She has three sisters, Jody Smith, Sue Hildebrand and the late Pat Jones; and a brother, the late Terry Roth.
She attended school at Franklin Monroe for three years and then graduated from Greenville High School with the class of 1957.
After high school, Linda said she worked at Greenville Sanitarium, a nursing home, located where Darke County Mental Health is today. In her later years, she worked as a nurse’s aide at Rest Haven in what she called the old home.
Yes, she lives and breathes Avon, which was founded by David McConnell in the 1880s which was known as the California Perfume Company.
An unsuccessful book salesman, he reportedly had concocted a rose-scented perfume as a “free gift” to encourage people to buy his books. The perfume was so popular, McConnell decided to abandon the book business and start a perfume company instead.
After his death in 1937, his son took over the family business, and the company changed its name to Avon in 1939 in honor of Shakespeare’s hometown, Stratford-on-Avon.
The first full color Avon catalog was issued in 1905.