Obituary: Anneliese Schimmelpfennig


Anneliese Schools founder Anneliese Schimmelpfennig, a teacher, visionary and entrepreneur, passed away peacefully due to complications from pneumonia, surrounded by her family, on May 4, 2023. 

Schimmelpfennig was born Anneliese Krempl on July 17, 1939, in the village of Tüssling in Bavaria, Germany. In her heart and spirit, she nurtured a lifelong love of learning and a dream: to one day found a special school in the United States. In the years that followed in post-war Germany, she gained her basic education as an intern teacher at an orphanage, a pediatric assistant at the University Clinic of Munich, and a private governess. She then studied pedagogy at the teacher’s college of The University of Munich by day, working as a chef by night. After serving as Director of the Red Cross-administered Giessen School for troubled children, Schimmelpfennig moved to Laguna Beach in 1967 to join her husband, Paul Schimmelpfennig. 

In 1968, the Schimmelpfennigs opened a 24-hour daycare in a small studio garage on Brooks Street at the height of Laguna’s hippie era. Word quickly spread of the unique environment provided at the Brooks Street location. In 1971, Anneliese and Paul purchased the Manzanita Campus, a 17-room Mediterranean revival estate on a 3/4-acre lot in the heart of Laguna Beach. The creation of the Manzanita Campus cemented the whimsical magic of Anneliese Schools in physical form — stained glass windows, vintage rugs, bountiful plants and flowers, playgrounds covered in soil rather than concrete, art lining the walls, and several animals; even at one point, a wallaby. Stories passed through the community of a school where children could interact with nature, develop autonomy, and discover their passions and sense of self. 

In a 1987 Los Angeles Times article, Schimmelpfennig said, “Our goal is for the kids to be kind, aware, critical, compassionate and responsible. Given half a chance, and a little direction, it’s a natural course for them anyway. But you have to trust them. They don’t like being herded, and they instinctively resist losing their individuality, so you must nurture that need for freedom and that hunger to learn.” 

With a growing demand for Anneliese School’s private education and philosophy, in 1983, Schimmelpfennig opened the Aliso Campus in a former elementary school on Wesley Drive in South Laguna. Later in 1986, Schimmelpfennig purchased a five-acre compound property in the Laguna Canyon which became the Anneliese Schools Willowbrook Campus, educating children from nursery age to sixth grade.  

Over the years, Schimmelpfennig’s daughter, Liesa, and her team have carried the Anneliese philosophy into the 21st century. Anneliese’s legacy has blossomed into a robust and inspiring proprietary curriculum that includes whole child education, cultivating the nine intelligences, a world language program, animal care, music and orchestra, gardening, eco-literacy, art and much more. The three campuses of Anneliese Schools all feature a team of seasoned educators teaching the philosophy of the Anneliese Child in inspiring environments. At its core, Schimmelpfennig’s north star has always been to help children realize their full potential as human beings and feel supported and confident in taking risks to live meaningful lives.  

While Schimmelpfennig was involved in big-picture planning up until her passing, and her shoes can never be filled, her staff and family will carry on her legacy of beauty and magic in the way she taught all whom she came across. In the 55 years since the Brooks Street daycare location opened, generations of families have passed through Anneliese Schools, including students who later became administrators and employees who have served the school for decades. An unwavering community remains with the example set to be fearless and remember that nothing is impossible.

Over the lifetime of the Anneliese Schools history, Schimmelpfennig’s family shared her with thousands and thousands of families whose students attended from many cities across Orange County. She is survived by Paul Schimmelpfennig, her daughters Liesa and Ruth, her grandchildren Lucas, Max, Ava, Eliza, and June, and her son-in-law Heinrich Martin.  

An announcement for a Celebration of Life honoring Anneliese Schimmelpfennig is forthcoming. 

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  1. This woman changed the destiny of so many Laguna (and surrounding community) children. She should be heralded as the visionary, compassionate educator that made Laguna a more enlightened place to live and raise a family. Hat’s off and godspeed to Anneliese for all she did for our town.

  2. You have given Ari and Joshua Parsons so many happy memories. Thank you for all that you did. You were an amazing woman. You will be immensely missed.

  3. The woman who took me in, the woman who showed me creativity, joy, love, kindness, patience, and stability. Thank you for all that you taught me, for all that you showed me, and for all the love that you gave me. You are so missed.

  4. Has a celebration of life event been announced yet? I’d love to honor Anneliese’s legacy and the magic she grew.


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