Remembering Those Who Have Passed Away

Updated on 2023-05-30

I mean, they say you die twice. One time when you stop breathing and a second time, a bit later on, when somebody says your name for the last time. – Bansky

This post will appear as the first post (stickied) on the first page of my blog during the month of May.


May 03 – Tom Meyer Jul 18 – Kathryn Black Aug 31 – Judy Snider
May 15 – Francis Schaeffer Aug 02 – Ruth Whited Nov 24 – Jean Nischwitz
May 23 – Iora Nicholas Aug 03 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Jun 07 – Pat Cooper Aug 23 – Leonardo Zuniga

May 03 – Tom Meyer

Pops visiting a WWII buddy in Washington state; photo courtesy of my mother.

Tom Meyer, my father whom I affectionately called Pops when I became older, passed away on May 03, 2012 from cancer. He had cancer of the lungs and brain. Our family doesn’t know which cancer caused his death. He decided a few years prior to his death to donate his body to a local university for scientific study upon his death. When you donate your body to science, I guess an autopsy cannot be performed so that the body is in the proper condition for scientific research purposes.

Pops basically grew up without a father. His father passed away in 1931 at the age of 33 or 34. Pops was very young at the time of his father’s death, so he really didn’t remember him. His father died of complications from being gassed during World War I. Pops lost his only sibling, a brother, who died at the age of 15 or 16, about 7 years after the death of their father, after his first meal after recovering from appendicitis.

Pops was a World War II veteran serving in the U.S. Navy and he related many stories about his Navy and war experiences to me and my siblings. He worked as a truck driver in one form or another most of his adult life. He spent most of his working career with, and retired from, a company named Roadway Express which no longer exists.

When I was a kid, Pops would sometimes pick me up while on his delivery route while working for Roadway Express. That eventually changed when the company instituted a policy of not allowing passengers in company vehicles due to liability issues. I enjoyed sitting up high in the truck cab. Pops would sometimes have me sort the freight bills. I especially enjoyed Pops taking me to lunch when he took me on his delivery route.

Pops introduced me to the Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe in Greenville, OH when I was a youngster. The Maid-Rite Sandwich Shoppe has one of the best hamburgers and milkshakes I’ve ever had. I am not the only one who thinks their hamburgers are great.

Image courtesy of Don Boyd

Pops would take me grocery shopping with him on the weekends when I was a kid. Pops liked to shop at a number of stores when he shopped for groceries so that he could get the best prices on items. The best part about grocery shopping with Pops was sampling candy or cookies he bought. He would say, “We have to sample them to make sure they’re not bad.”

Pops married and divorced previously before marrying my mother. He fathered 7 children with his first wife and he fathered 6 children with my mother.

Pops was a loving father and a hard worker.

May 15 – Francis Schaeffer

Image courtesy of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church; used with permission.

Francis Schaeffer passed away from lymphoma on May 15, 1984. Francis was a theologian, but he was best known for the books he wrote on Christian apologetics and for the L’Abri Fellowship he and his wife Edith (who was also an accomplished author) started in 1955.

I first became acquainted with Francis Schaeffer close to the time of his death. I was in the U.S. Air Force at the time and I visited a local Christian bookstore on occasion near the base I was stationed at where I purchased a number of his books. Francis Schaeffer’s books are deeply thought provoking and shaped some of my beliefs as a Christian. You can purchase Francis Schaeffer’s books at Amazon or at Christianbook. Also be sure to check out the Francis Schaeffer Studies site, a free resource for the works of Francis and Edith Schaeffer.

May 23 – Iora Nicholas

Thanks to my mother who sent me this photo in 2021.

Iora Nicholas, my paternal grandmother (hereinafter called Grandma Nicholas), passed away on May 23, 1985 after suffering several strokes. I was in the U.S. Air Force at the time and I received notice that I needed to go home to attend the funeral while I was going through a non-commissioned officer training course.

Grandma Nicholas suffered from back pain as did my father and as do I. Spine issues must run in the family. She took Doan’s Pills, an over-the-counter pain reliever specifically marketed for relieving back pain. I sometimes wonder if taking the Doan’s Pills might have had something to do with her strokes. I remember playing with the empty containers, as well as empty Avon cosmetic containers, at Grandma Nicholas’ home when I and my siblings were kids.

Grandma Nicholas lost her first husband, John Meyer, in 1931 at the age of 33 or 34 due to complications from being gassed during World War I.

Grandma Nicholas had two children with her first husband, two boys, named John, Jr. and Tom. John, Jr. was the oldest son and he died after his first meal after recovering from appendicitis at the age of 15 or 16, about 7 years after the death of John, Sr. Tom was my father.

Grandma Nicholas remarried about 16 years later, marrying William Nicholas. Grandpa Nicholas died in 1972, due to complications from abdominal surgery if my memory serves me right. The death of my Grandpa Nicholas was my first personal experience with death.

Grandma Nicholas suffered from choking spells when she was older. She kept a container of whiskey in her house and she would take a sip or two whenever she had a choking spell. Sipping whiskey seemed to relieve her choking spells.

Grandma Nicholas made the best cherry cobbler I’ve ever eaten. The cherry cobbler consisted of three layers of pastry separated by cherry filling. I loved to pour milk on the cobbler in a bowl before eating it. She also made a dessert called frog eye tapioca pudding that she often made for Thanksgiving get-togethers. Her frog eye tapioca pudding was very good as well.

Grandma Nicholas enjoyed crocheting and knitting. She also enjoyed playing cards and she would become so tickled when she beat you. However, she didn’t like to lose. She taught me a few solitaire card games when I was younger, but I’ve since forgotten them.

When I and my siblings were kids, Grandma Nicholas would send us a birthday card with a little bit of money on our birthdays. She also bought each of us an Easter basket filled with candy every Easter.

Grandma Nicholas had a wonderful laugh that I miss. I wish I had visited her more often after I became an adult.

Following is an image of Grandma Nicholas when she was older, circa late 1960s or early 1970s. The image was provided by my mother. My apologies for the writing on the image. It would have been impossible to remove all of it and very tedious and time-consuming to remove most of it.

L-R: Me; Grandma Nicholas’ dog Twinkie; my brothers Chris, Brett, and Rob; and Grandma Nicholas

A huge thank you to Jim Roth for providing invaluable obituary information about my grandmother.

Jun 07 – Pat Cooper

Image cropped from a group photo sent by my mother and touched up to remove writing.

Pat Cooper, who was my aunt and one of my mother’s sisters, passed away suddenly on June 07, 1985 at a fairly young age. She had varicose veins in her legs and apparently a clot had formed, dislodged, and traveled to one of her lungs, a condition known as pulmonary embolism. She died in a hospital emergency room according to the obituary.

Aunt Pat married at the age of 24 or 25. I was the ring bearer for the wedding. I vaguely remember the wedding, but I was too young to remember much about it.

Aunt Pat had a wonderful laugh and she was a lot of fun to be around. Sometimes when we were both at a gathering at my Grandma Whited’s house, she would say to me, “Hey good looking!” Grandma Whited was the mother of my mother and Aunt Pat.

Aunt Pat’s death was a shame because proper medical attention for her varicose veins might have prevented her death. To protect the privacy of her surviving family members, I will not say more about that issue.

A big thank you to Jim Roth and the Piqua Public Library for providing valuable obituary information.

Jul 18 – Kathryn Black

Image cropped from a group photo sent by my mother and touched up to remove writing.

Kathryn Black, who was my aunt and one of my mother’s sisters, passed away on July 18, 2017 in a nursing home after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. My cousin believes that postmenopausal medication/hormone therapy may have led to my aunt getting Alzheimer’s disease.

Aunt Kate was my favorite aunt since I saw her more often than any of my other aunts. Her daughter was also my favorite cousin growing up and still is. Aunt Kate was meticulous about keeping her house clean. She always made sure I had pocket money when my cousin and I went out for ice cream, to the local pool, roller skating, etc. I have many fond memories about spending the Christmas holidays or time in the summer at my aunt’s house.

Aug 02 – Ruth Whited

Image cropped from a group photo sent by my mother and touched up to remove writing.

Ruth Whited, my maternal grandmother (hereinafter called Grandma Whited), succumbed to stomach cancer on Aug 02, 1996. One of my Grandma Whited’s sisters also passed away years before from stomach cancer as well. My Grandma Whited’s first and only husband passed away from liver failure when my mother was still an adolescent. Fortunately, my Grandma Whited’s husband had insurance on the house that paid off the mortgage when he passed away.

My Grandma Whited cleaned houses and took in laundry to make ends meet. She had an ironing board in her kitchen that folded away into a wall cabinet when not in use. I can still remember her standing at the ironing board in her kitchen ironing clothes. She had a large bottle with a metal top that had holes in it. The bottle contained water and she would sprinkle water onto the clothes before ironing them to help remove wrinkles. I guess steam irons for consumer use hadn’t been invented yet.

I have many fond memories of visiting my Grandma Whited’s house usually around Christmas and also throughout the year. I looked forward to visiting her because my favorite cousin would usually be there as well.

My Grandma Whited was a wonderful cook and one of my favorite recipes that she made was homemade chicken and noodles. She had to be a good cook because she had many mouths to feed. Grandma Whited was a mother to 8 children; 1 son and 7 daughters, image below sans my mother. The image was provided by my mother. My apologies for the writing on the image. It would have been very tedious and time-consuming to remove all of it to my desired satisfaction.

Seated, L-R: Karen, Linda, Nancy
Standing, L-R: Pat, Kate, Grandma Whited, Cletus Jr., Jean

Grandma Whited was a lot of fun to be around. Following is a photo of her clowning around in her dining room.

Image courtesy of my mother

Following is an image of Grandma Whited when she was younger; image circa mid to late 1950s. Grandma Whited is on the far left, holding one of my cousins.

Image courtesy of my mother

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit my Grandma Whited not too long before she passed away. She mostly stayed in a hospital bed in her living room during her last days. When I last visited her I told her that she was a wonderful grandmother, after which she broke down and cried.

Aug 03 – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons, CCO license

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn passed away on August 03, 2008, from heart failure.

Aleksandr spent time in the notorious gulag prison system of the Soviet Union. He also wrote a 3-volume series of his and other prisoner recollections of time spent in the gulag prison system. The title of the series is The Gulag Archipelago. You can download free versions in various formats of the series here.

I began reading The Gulag Archipelago during my second assignment in the U.S. Air Force. I would sit and read the series while eating dinner in the chow hall (dining facility). I was riveted by the details depicted in the series. The depravity, cruelty, and illogical actions and thinking of Soviet Union communisim depicted in the series was mind numbing at times.

Aug 23 – Leonardo Zuniga

Image currently unavailable; silhouette image courtesy of Stephanie Edwards at Pixabay.

Leonardo Zuniga passed away on August 23, 1999 from pancreatic cancer.

Leonardo was one of my father’s co-workers at Roadway Express, and he had recently retired not long before being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. My father sometimes lamented the fact that some of his co-workers died shortly after retiring.

Leonardo was a maintenance worker at Roadway Express. Leonardo and my father were good friends. Some of Leonardo’s co-workers, including my father, liked to tease Leonardo because he could easily be flustered.

Leonardo was a hustler. In addition to his job at Roadway Express, he also ran a lawn care business on the side. He hired me and a few of my brothers to help him with his lawn care business. He also had power washing equipment and he would have me wash the trailers at the Roadway Express terminal where he and my father worked.

In addition to employing me to help him with his side work, Leonardo also took me along with him on outings. He owned a boat and he took me out in his boat a few times. He also took me fishing with him on at least one occasion.

The biggest outing that Leonardo took me with him on was game 3 of the 1975 World Series between the Cincinnati Reds and the Boston Red Sox at Riverfront Stadium in Cincinnati, OH. That was the game where there was a controversial call by the home plate umpire. It was the first professional sporting event I had ever attended. I don’t remember how Leonardo was able to get tickets to the game. We sat in the nosebleed section to the left of home plate.

Aug 31 – Judy Snider

Judy Snider passed away in the hospital on August 31, 2013, as a result of injuries sustained in an automobile accident. She had been in a coma and never came out of it.

Judy was a somewhat well-known hair stylist in the area I grew up in. My mother began going to Judy to get her hair done when I was a youngster and their relationship developed into a close friendship. When Judy passed away, my mother lost a great hair stylist and a close friend.

When my father finally allowed me to let me hair grow longer when I turned 14, one of his stipulations was that I was to keep it cut and neat looking. There would be no Robert Plant wannabe in my father’s home. Therefore, I also eventually began seeing Judy to get my hair cut and styled. My sister and some of my brothers also became customers of Judy.

Judy spent a lot of her leisure time growing annual flowers on her property. I didn’t know it but according to Judy’s obituary, she was an avid fan of Ohio State University football and she also enjoyed cooking.

Judy tried to convince me to read Money magazine when I was a young adult, but at the time I was a new Christian. I thought the desire to earn a lot of money was evil due to some of the admonitions in the Bible about the love of money. A few years later when I was in the military, I became a regular subscriber of Money magazine and I learned quite a lot about investing and personal finance.

Nov 24 – Jean Nischwitz

Image cropped from a group photo sent by my mother and touched up to remove writing.

Jean (Jeanie) Nischwitz, who was my aunt and one of my mother’s sisters, was found deceased in her home on November 24, 2015. One of my cousins told me the cause of Aunt Jean’s death, but I don’t remember what it was.

I didn’t get to know Aunt Jean until later in life. She and her family were at my Grandma Whited’s home only a few times when I visited with my family. When I finally got to know Aunt Jean better, I found her to be humorous and a lot of fun. I’ve told my mother a few times I wish I had gotten to know her better sooner in life.

Aunt Jean’s husband preceded her in death several years prior. Uncle Ronald died of a heart attack at a somewhat young age.

Following is an image of Aunt Jean when she was younger; image circa mid to late 1950s. Aunt Jean is the adult in the middle, I believe holding her oldest daughter.

Image courtesy of my mother

Post header image courtesy of luxstorm, at Pixabay.


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