December 18, 1915 - January 25, 2013
Rocky River, Ohio | Age 97
Margaret J. Thompson (nee Jerman), 97, of Rocky River, formerly of Buffalo, NY. Died January 25, 2013. Beloved wife of the late Everett L. Thompson; loving mother of Barbara Morrison (Paul, deceased), and the late William E. Thompson; dear grandmother of Andrew Morrison (Teresa) and Amy Papp (Ed); cherished Gigi of Eddie, Jonah and Elise Papp. The family would like to thank her two devoted caregivers, Willievera Buxton and Debra DeLeon. Memorial donations may be sent to the Foster Grandparents Program, 128 Wilson St., Buffalo, NY, 14212, where she volunteered 25 years; or to the P.E.O. Foundation for women's scholarships, c/o P.E.O. Executive Office, 3700 Grand Ave., Des Moines, IA, 50312-2899. Memorial service will be held on Sunday, February 3, at 3:30pm, in Club Room A of the Normandy, 22701 Lake Rd., Rocky River, 44116. Inurnment at Forest Lawn Cemetery, Buffalo, NY. Cremation by Busch 440-333-9774 www.buschfuneral.com
Memories of Peg Thompson, My Mom
February 3, 2013 Barbara Morrison
My family and I are so grateful for your presence at this celebration of the life of my mother. Ninety-seven years is a very long life. Some of you have been friends for decades while others met Mom since she moved to the Normandy from the Buffalo, NY area seven years ago. Margaret Eileen Jerman was born Dec. 18, 1915 to William and Della Jerman who lived in the small northwestern Pennsylvania town of Eldred. Four years later a brother, Howard, was born. Peggy, as she was called, graduated in a class of 19 students from Eldred HS in 1933 and then attended a two-year business college. While going to school, she also worked at a small Olean, NY department store as a clerk. At that time purchases were handled by sending the cash through a vacuum tube to the office upstairs. A young man working in that office saw her down below. With one transaction, he included a note asking if she would like a date with him. She agreed and thus began her courtship with Everett Thompson. They continued to date after she accepted a secretarial position with Sinclair Refinery located about 40 minutes west in Wellsville, NY, which, at that time, was in the midst of the booming oil country. Mom has told me the story of the day Everett came to Wellsville and took her out for lunch at the local hotel. She later learned that the cost of that used up his lunch money for a full week! Remember Peg and Everett grew up during the depression and experienced life with very limited finances.
Peg and Everett, or Tommy as he was called because of his last name Thompson, were married in July 1940. They moved to Reading PA as he had been hired by a radio station to seek advertising clients. That's where I was born in July, 1941. The next year, his new job took us to Youngstown, OH where we lived for 4 years. Early in 1945 came another move, this time to Boston, MA. However, in a few months, an offer came from Buffalo, NY to manage the radio department of an advertising agency so we relocated again. In October of that year, my brother Bill was born.
By the time he began 1st grade and I was in 5th grade, we moved to the suburb, Hamburg, where my parents lived for the next 44 years. Dad continued to work for advertising agencies, his main client being the Pepsi Cola Bottlers of the western half of NY State. When I was a senior in college, he began his own small agency with Pepsi as his one client. He couldn't afford to hire a secretary for the first nine months so my mother, who had been a stay-at-home mom, filled that position. In the '50's and early '60's most of my friends' mothers did not work outside the home but were involved in groups such as PTA, church circles and scouting groups. My mother was our assistant Camp Fire Girls leader.
I'm moving ahead in Mom's life story several decades. After almost 51 years of marriage, Tommy died of a heart attack in 1991. Maintenance of their home and large yard became a burden so Mom, at 79, decided to move to a new development of cluster homes in the nearby town of Orchard Park. She was one of the first to purchase a lot and followed the construction step by step, making many decisions and keeping a detailed notebook. This memory stands out: When she did the walk through before paying the balance owed on her new home, she found several features that were not up to her expected standards. One was the stair railing to the second floor –she commented that it was not as smooth as the one in the model home and expected that it, and the other areas, would be corrected. When they were, she completed her payment. Quite a business woman she was!
Looking back at my mother's life, I see other examples of the quiet strength backed by a strong faith which she exhibited. Probably the most poignant example followed my bachelor brother Bill's death, at age 59, in a one-car crash in December 2004, two days before her 89th birthday. He had lived about 15 minutes from Mom. It was his habit to call her daily and help her when needed with jobs at her home.
In the five months after his death, I made 9 trips to Hamburg to help with emptying his very full bungalow of its belongings. Mom handled the large amount of paper work that follows a death as well as the sale of his home. I wondered if she might decide to move to the Cleveland area in the future – maybe in a year or two - so she could be near our family including her granddaughter Amy, her husband, Ed, and their three children. She'd also be able to see our son Andrew when he visited from Virginia.
It was only 4 months after Bill's death that she called me and said she was planning to move to Cleveland – that she didn't want me to have to drive to Buffalo when health problems might arise for her. She wanted to look for an apartment in a retirement community. My response – we'd love to have you close by but my husband is scheduled for a hip replacement in two weeks so you'll have to come soon. She took the Greyhound bus to Cleveland where I met her, she picked out her apartment here at the Normandy and two days later went back to Buffalo. After living 60 years in that area, she was willing to leave her friends, her church and relocate here so I would not be inconvenienced by distance as she grew older. What a gift to our family, especially to me.
My mother taught me by example to be caring and compassionate of others. Here again there is a vivid memory. She had a neighbor, Norma, who was a widow without children. When Norma broke her arm, Mom, an excellent seamstress, made her a dress by adjusting the pattern: the right sleeve was changed to follow the contour of the sling so that arm could be under the dress. Several years later Norma was close to death in the hospital. She had no family nearby and feared dying alone. Mom said yes to Norma's request and spent several overnights with her before she died.
For many years, after Bill and I were grown, Mom led craft classes at the nearby West Seneca Developmental Center. Here mentally and physically challenged young women, ages 18-26, attended her weekly sessions making items from a variety of materials –for instance, the plastic lid of a spray can became a small flower holder when turned upside down and could be used as a favor. Yes, Mom was a saver, learned from growing up in the Depression. My daughter, Amy, will agree that I have inherited that trait.
Mom taught me to sew, to garden, to wallpaper, to be a gracious hostess. She ignited in me a love for travel by inviting me to join her on a number of wonderful trips. My dad loved to visit the Bahamas and Caribbean but had no interest in visiting Europe. The year after his death, Mom planned a 3-week trip to England, Scotland, and Ireland for 3 generations – Amy and I joining her. What a wonderful time we had despite our age differences. Nine years later we were a threesome again, visiting the Canadian Rocky National Parks. Since Andrew could not join us, she sent him the money for a trip of his choice at another date. He chose to tour China, including a portion by bicycle. Some of our other destinations were Switzerland, Israel, Rome, Alaska and Mexico, each with its special memories.
Mom continued to be independent after moving here at age 90. She drove her car. She sought out a new church, deciding on Rocky River Presbyterian. She transferred her P.E.O membership to a local chapter and so enjoyed meeting wonderful women, most younger than herself. Four years ago, when balance was becoming more of a problem, she fell in her apartment. In this freak accident she became blind in her right eye. Fortunately she had excellent vision in her left. As when she faced earlier adversity in her life, she quietly accepted her new limitations and moved forward with a positive attitude and strong faith. Her example provided me with strength when my husband Paul died five years ago.
The last three years have seen her decline both physically and mentally, in some ways becoming what I called a "shadow of herself" – what she was once like. Yet she always continued to be the gracious, classy lady – the matriarch of our extended family – who has been an outstanding role model for, not just me, but for a number of you here with us today. We remember her smile, especially for her great grandchildren, Eddie, Jonah and Elise and her loving caregivers, Willie and Debra, her joy of being at family gatherings, and her longtime friendships which were maintained through holiday greetings.
In the last two years, Mom knew her family but often lived in the past and mentioned that she had visited her parents. Those were happy memories which to her seemed to be happening in the present. Although in a transport chair, she would tell me that she was going dancing, an activity which she and Dad had often done. We will miss her dearly but know that now she is with her Lord and with so many family members and friends who have gone before her, and she can dance again!