Gretchen Pifer Shoop (1938-2015): Lion Store fashion director an actor, dancer, show host

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Gretchen Pifer Shoop, who brought flair to multiple roles that placed her in the limelight for decades — versatile actor, Lion Store fashion director, radio talk show host, decorating consultant — died June 14 in Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. She was 76.

Mrs. Shoop of Perrysburg had cancer and lived the last six months with her daughter, Heller Shoop, in Byfield, Mass.

“The thread through everything was creative expression,” her son, Hans, said. “She had an interest in fashion and communication, emoting, whether it was radio or stage or helping people figure out what to wear or how to decorate their houses.”

In the 1980s, Mrs. Shoop became the public face of fashion at Lion, the Toledo department store. Debbie Reynolds was a featured guest for one fashion show. On a weekly program broadcast live from Lion’s Southwyck store, Mrs. Shoop offered “informative informal interviews,” according to a 1988 ad in The Blade, “with noted experts on fashion, health, sports, psychology, gardening, child care, cuisine, and a potpourri of other interests.”

Her own style was tasteful and distinctive, her son said.

“She used full artistic license to dress herself with marvelous flair, and always appropriate,” her son said. “There was always that thing that made it not like everything else.”

Sandy Blackstone Carman, a friend, said: “She was so breathtakingly beautiful.”

Mrs. Shoop helped organize anniversary events for her alma mater, Maumee Valley Country Day School, and the Toledo Club. “She could stage anything. What she knew in her pinkie finger anyone else would love to know,” Ms. Carman said.

When others saw how she redecorated her homes, “they were so charmed and said, ‘Can you do that for me too?’ ” her son said.

Mrs. Shoop was born Sept. 15, 1938, in Findlay to Catherine and G. William Pifer. Her mother had been a dancer with the Ziegfeld Follies, and her father was a dentist. In her senior year at Maumee Valley, she bested students from across the state in a declamation contest. She modeled in Toledo — she was 1958 Miss Press Photographer of Toledo — attended Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and studied dance in New York. By 1960, she was starring on the local stage, including dance lead in a Toledo Repertoire Theatre production of The Pajama Game. The next year, she played Anne in a Rep production of The Diary of Anne Frank, and was in a production at the Toledo Zoo of Two For the Seesaw. She had prominent roles in Antigone, The Four Poster, and Under the Yum Yum Tree.

About 1970, she adopted the stage name Jensen Moore and toured the country. As resident actor at the Cherry County Playhouse in Traverse City, Mich., she played the female lead in each play opposite a famous personality brought in for the occasion — including Pat Paulsen and John Forsythe. She worked on a television movie with Van Johnson.

She left acting when the demands of travel and the stage were “taking her away from family more than she wanted to be,” her son said.

She had served on the local board of directors for the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

She and her husband, David, married June 17, 1960. He died Dec. 3, 2008.

Surviving are her son, Hans Shoop; daughter, Heller Shoop; brother, Peter Pifer; sister, Sally Stimmel, and a granddaughter.

Services will be private. Arrangements are by Paul C. Funeral Home in Amesbury, Mass.

The family suggests tributes to Small Dog Rescue in Mayville, Mich.

Contact Mark Zaborney at: or 419-724-6182.