Tina Niemann was 48 when she took her first paying job. She and her husband had 11 children, and she decided to sell real estate to help send them to college.
She went on to become one of the most successful and best-known Realtors in St. Louis. Her photo appears on grocery cart ads in supermarkets throughout the region.
During her 32-year career, her firm says, she sold some 2,000 homes totaling more than $700 million in sales. She appeared regularly on lists of the area’s highest-selling real estate agents.
Tina Niemann died on June 14, 2013, after suffering a heart attack during a session with her hair dresser in Kirkwood, her family said. She was 80 and lived in Ladue.
She died about two months after her husband, John “Jack” Niemann, a lawyer and retired partner with an accounting firm. His obituary described how he had left a hospital bed here to travel to Las Vegas to spend his last birthday at the craps tables.
Mrs. Niemann often said she would never retire. At the time of her death, she was negotiating three sales contracts.
She did worry about getting older. She thought people might forget about her or even “think that she had died,” recalled a daughter, Mary Ciapciak of Ladue.
So 20 years ago, when she turned 60, Mrs. Niemann started placing ads on shopping carts and checkout lanes at Schnucks markets.
She regularly got calls from grocery shoppers. “I’m thinking of selling,” they told her as they strolled the aisles.
Mrs. Niemann said that having 11 children in 15½ years had left her able to deal with any possible crisis a home buyer or seller could come up with.
“She took care of everybody,” her daughter said. “Some agents are about the money. Some have an ego. With mom, it was about making people happy. In order to make people happy, you make deals work. If necessary, you stay up all night.”
Tina LoPiccolo was the oldest of six children. Their father was a well-known physician on The Hill and their mother was a community volunteer.
Tina attended City House, The Academy of the Sacred Heart and Villa Duchesne, where she graduated in 1950. She attended what is now Maryville University and St. Louis University.
She was dating Jack Niemann when he was badly injured in a traffic accident. As he lay in his hospital bed, he asked to see her first. That’s when she realized that he loved her. They married in 1953.
Although she didn’t hold an outside job while rearing her children, she was not a stay-at-home mom. She volunteered at her children’s schools, drove for Meals on Wheels, slept about four hours a night, and was named a 1982 “Woman of Achievement” by the old Globe-Democrat.
“All I ever wanted to be was a mom,” she told the Ladue News two years ago.
But then she discovered the joys of home sales. Her first month, she recalled selling three homes in rapid succession. She worked day and night, Sundays and holidays.
Being a mom was the best possible training for such arduous work, she explained. “Both require patience, dedication and a sense of humor.”
A celebration of her life will at 10 a.m. Friday at the Cathedral Basilica, 4431 Lindell Boulevard. Burial will be private at St. Peter’s Cemetery in Kirkwood.
Survivors, in addition to her daughter, include another daughter, Angela Niemann of Half Moon Bay, Calif.; nine sons, James Niemann and Michael Niemann of Kirkwood; John Niemann and David Niemann of Houston; Daniel Niemann and Patrick Niemann of Palos Verdes Estates, Calif.; Thomas Niemann of Durham, N.C.; Matthew Niemann of Manhattan Beach, Calif.; and Timothy Niemann of Ladue; 36 grandchildren; and one great-granddaughter.