MACEDONIA - On April 20, 2020, Dolly Ruth Neaffer, age 76, of Macedonia OH, former long-term resident of Altoona, PA, Rootstown, OH and Stow, OH, passed from this earthly life to life eternal in her Lord's heavenly kingdom. In these times that prevent calling hours, funerals, and memorial services, we, her children, Dollinda Damcott, Ronald Neaffer and (Daniel) Ross Neaffer would like to tell you a little about this amazing woman and wonderful mother.
Mom was born Nov. 2, 1943, the oldest daughter of the late James and Charlotte Heiple and raised in Altoona, PA with her younger sister, Darlene, her grandmother, Margaret Black and her great-grandmother, Elizabeth Morrissey. She relocated to Ohio in the early 1960's with her late husband, our dad Kenneth Neaffer. They had a family and raised us by example. By Mom's example of her kindness, compassion, fairness, and hard work. By the example of believing in God, His Son, Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the power of unwavering faith in God's promises made to us in holy scripture. By the example of selfless sacrifice for the benefit of your loved ones. By the example of having good character and being a great friend. By the example of always facing adversity with strength, dignity and perseverance while cherishing each day as a gift.
While handling the responsibility of being a wife and a young mother, mom also excelled in many professions, sometimes working at several jobs per day. She was a lifeguard, a clerk at Kresge's, a bookkeeper at JC Penney and a molding machine operator at a plastics factory. She ran a successful home cleaning business in Ravenna and Hudson and was an assembler for a promotional products manufacturer. She spent more than three decades in senior management positions in food service at Dutch Pantry in Twinsburg, Dairy Queen and East Park in Ravenna, and McDonald's in Hudson. She did all those jobs while being a master multi-tasker, but she was also suffering from chronic depression through most of her life. She was a caregiver to both of her parents, to her grandmother and later in life to our father. She was involved in scouting, and volunteering at our schools. She transported us to scores of lessons and activities plus church worship services. She organized and hosted numerous holiday parties and summer cookouts for her family, friends, employees and for our Hot Stove baseball team members and their families. As we moved out of high school and began to leave home, she concentrated her non-working hours on doting upon her first two grandchildren, Rob and Jessica.
Mom always welcomed all her friends, and those of her children, into her home. She prided herself on making our home comfortable and inviting. She decorated extensively for every season and every holiday. EXTENSIVELY. She coordinated the fragrances of our home with the season. She was one of those people who would give you anything she had if you needed it, especially her love and her prayers. Many of our childhood friends still called her mom until the day she left us, and she was a true prayer warrior about every concern of those she loved. After only partially recovering from on-the-job injuries, she had to retire from her lifetime of hard work. This allowed her to begin what was certainly her most rewarding role. That of doting upon, and being caregiver to, her next three infant grandchildren, Anthony, Andrew and Carlye as well as her great-granddaughter Skylar. A few years later her great-grandson Kaedyn was born and added a fifth child to her home. She transformed her home into a private daycare center, with four cribs in her extra bedroom and a backyard that looked like a Little Tikes show room. With Dad's and Ron's help, mom delighted in the 10 to 12 hours per day that she spent caring for her three grandkids and two great-grandkids until they started school. She called them "My babies," and still did even after they started middle and high school and then college last fall. Great-grandkids number 3, 4 and 5, Nick, Dylan and Ryan added to mom's joy over the years. Sadly, she didn’t get a chance to meet her most recently born great-grandchild, Annie.
There are so many things Mom liked or did that people will remember about her. Purple. She liked purple. It was her favorite color. In her bedroom she had purple paint, purple carpet, purple blinds, purple curtains, and a purple comforter &pillow set. She had lots of purple clothes. Last year she even had a purple frame put on her custom wheelchair. Pepsi. She loved her Pepsi and a handful of pretzels for a daily mid-day pick-me-up. The addition of some Lawson's chip dip was a frequently added treat. More often than not, a day involved multiple Pepsi's. It was her magical, energy-renewing elixir. It was not uncommon for her to stock up on Pepsi and pretzels before a project like spring cleaning or Christmas decorating. She had a few drops of Pepsi each of her last few days. Tea. Mom liked hot tea more than almost anyone we know except a family friend named Leslie, and she liked her iced tea to be so sweet that it would almost make your teeth ache! She liked the cartoon character "Maxine" in all forms and enjoyed exchanging Maxine merchandise with her two best friends, Pat and Rita. She enjoyed a strawberry daiquiri or a Tom Collins from time to time in her younger days. The walls in her house are covered with school artwork and pictures of "her babies." Her bookshelf is filled with bibles, some belonging to her ancestors and 100 years old. There are many religious themed items in her house, too. Family, friends, faith, tea and Pepsi. That is much of what she enjoyed in life. She loved being involved in the lives of her family and friends. Seeing them grow, change, explore and succeed. She loved going to kids’ baseball games and soccer matches, band concerts, plays and award assemblies, birthday and retirement parties, housewarming parties and baby showers.
Mom was never quite the same after dad died in 2006. She had more frequent and more severe depression for several years, then a fall, surgery, and rehab, then several years of bouts with pneumonia that put her in the hospital, sometimes in the ICU and once on a ventilator. Then another fall and another surgery. But every time she fought to come back home to her loved ones. When one of her rehabs mysteriously stalled, a year of tests by many specialists finally showed she had terminal degenerative brain disease, Parkinsonism, and vascular dementia from micro-stroke syndrome. She fought long and hard. She gradually lost cognitive function, memories, and the ability to walk. Then she lost more memories and her ability to stand, use her hands, then to sit up. In the last six months she lost more cognitive function, the ability to turn her head, move her eyes, talk, then she couldn’t suck on a straw, and finally she lost her ability to eat and then to swallow. But she never lost the ability to inspire. We are so proud of her. Mom was only 4'9" tall, but the woman was a giant in our eyes. We share this part of her story in hope of lessening the stigma of chronic depression and brain disease. In spite of these two awful diseases, that cause so much suffering and rob their victims of so much ability, a purposeful, meaningful life is still possible, at least for longer than most people think. Victims become withdrawn and isolated, sharp minds trapped in broken bodies until the sharpness also fades, their inability to respond mistaken for disinterest or diminished capacity.
We love you, mom. We will miss you greatly, but we rejoice that your pain and burdens are gone. We know we will see you again. Rest in peace with the Lord, reunited with dad and your loved ones who have crossed the bar before you.
There will be a private burial at Crown Hill cemetery in Twinsburg. A memorial service will be held at First Christian Church in Stow at a future time when it is safe to gather together. (SS, 5/3/20)