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100th Anniversary of Sue Ley’s Birth


Ley Sue Foutz Colt 1979

Me and Grandma Ley, her house, 1979.

Happy 100th Birthday, Suzanne Abbott Weible Ley

 

I was blessed to grow up in a town where I was only a short drive — or bike ride — from my grandparents.

It’s not so usual today, with families spread across the country, or, in some cases, the globe. But Dover, Ohio had been home to both sides of my family for better than 100 years, with the roots of the Leys stretching back to the next county over in the early 1800s, and the Weibles just south of Dover and its sister city, New Philadelphia, about a decade earlier than that.

It was important to my parents that we grew up knowing both sides of my family, and we sure did. Birthdays, grandparents days at school, rides to and from track and cross country and band practices, piano recitals, spelling bees, Thanksgivings, Christmases and vacations every year to the Carolinas — these were occasions made all the more memorable and sweet by sharing them with my grandparents, my mom’s parents, Bob and Sue Ley.

In fact, I shared the same elementary school, Dover Avenue, with both my mom and grandma Sue. She grew up just about two blocks east of our house right on Dover Avenue. And lived most of her married life within a mile of her childhood home and grade school.

But grandma was a lot closer than that. On the day I was born, June 2, 1976, — so the story goes — she just had a feeling and drove down to our house near Columbus, Ohio. When she and grandpa looked in the window and saw our dog, Shannon, but no mom and dad, they headed straight for Riverside Hospital.

They were there not long after I entered the world. And they were there for so many occasions during my childhood and young adulthood.

Once, when grandma was out hauling me somewhere and a car warning light went on, grade school me helpfully piped up, “Should we check in the manual, grandma?” She got a kick out of that.

Some of my first inklings of freedom as a kid was being able to bike to their house at the top of the hill on Parkview Drive. There, my cousins and brothers and I would play for hours in the pine trees bordering grandpa’s grapevine and apple trees, dubbing out hideouts Cousins’ Castle and the like. Grandma was always ready with a glass of Pepsi with ice to relax with in the shade of their patios. Over the years, the glass wore smooth and squeaky with their constant trips through the dishwasher.

When I was older, she was always ready to request a song or five from their living room piano. And always responded with enthusiastic applause.

We could walk into their house, day or night, and call out and be greeted by them.

She enjoyed sipping cold beers and talking about our adventures. She’d had several herself. She attended Miami University and Kent State University in Ohio — rare, in her generation — and worked in Columbus for the State of Ohio during World War II. She was also, I found out much later, an avid writer and, rumor had it, had authored a book of stories that was secreted away somewhere. They have not turned up.

We were blessed to share her 88 years, 63 of them married to my grandpa, Robert Earl Ley, Jr. But there are many times I wish I could walk right into their house again, pull up a chair, enjoy a Pepsi — or a cold beer — and hear her characteristic laugh.

As with my blog commemorating the 100th anniversary of my grandpa Don Foutz’s birth six years ago, I’m happy to be able to share so many great pictures of my Grandma Ley to celebrate her 100th.  Even happier — so many of these photos have family in them, including me.

They’re a mark of how family was always at the center of my grandparents’ lives. They were blessed with a big one. Seems to me we should find a way to celebrate them both this year — Grandpa’s 100th is Sept. 30 — and get the gang back together again.

Sue Ley: 88 Years in Photographs

(Scroll to view the gallery below, or click any photo for a closeup slideshow.)

 

Sue Ley 100th Birthday Slideshow

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Categories: Ley, Milestones, Weible | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

100th Anniversary of Don Foutz’s Birth


Donald Dale Foutz

Donald Dale Foutz, March 4, 1914 to November 14, 1980

Donald Dale Foutz: 100th Birthday Slideshow

There was a time, not so many years ago, when I had no photographs to remember my Grandpa Don Foutz.

He died of lung cancer in 1980, when I was just 4. But I had glimmerings of memories, growing up.

A weekend staying with grandpa and Grandma Erma Foutz at their house at 115 Cross St. in Dover: waking up, I wandered from my dad’s old bedroom at the end of the hall to the bathroom next to their bedroom. Grandpa stood at the sink, then leaned over and helped me “wipe the sleep from (my) eyes.” It was the first time I’d heard the expression.

Their house was the province of puzzles — an old TV Cowboy one — and dominoes, the calico cats my grandma or one of her sisters made at the time, the big ugly wolf stuffed animal that was once my dad’s. And grandpa’s big sausage pillow. I remember him stretching out on the couch, propped up on it, his salt and pepper hair in the same crazy corkscrews mine resemble, most days.

I remember picnics in the backyard of our place at 1028 Dover Ave., and grilling out off the back porch of their place. It was always novel for Grandma and Grandpa Ley to join us in a cross-family, crosstown breaking of bread. The benefits of having moved back to our hometown.

Christmases, there and at our place. Mom’s sausage souffle and the tingling bells on our stockings. Grandpa’s voice calling out as he and grandma burst in — never a need for a knock — calling for my brother, “Danny. Hey, Danny!”

We visited him in Maryland near the end of his life, a trip I remember more for the wild horses on the beach at Assateague Island, and the novel elevator buttons and smell of the big NIH hospital where Grandpa was taken for experimental treatment of oat cell carcinoma.

I don’t remember his death, or funeral that November. But Dad and Mom have said he called Dan and me bedside and whispered the locations where grandma secreted her Christmas cookies. A good story.

My window on Don Foutz’s life was a brushstroke of sun, a mere sliver. Six percent of a life still far too short.

Through my family history research, I’ve been able to appreciate the full measure of his years. Discover what his family life was like, growing up. Detail his high school football exploits. Trace his work at Potschner Ford and in the Greer Steel Mill. Relive, through photographs, family gatherings.

Today, I’m blessed with countless photographs of my grandpa. A shot from his wedding day shares space atop our mantel with those of our parents and other grandparents. The picture heading this post sits next to a similarly y0uthful portrait of my grandma on a cozy bookshelf in our living room. There are photos of grandpa among other relatives in the collage by our dining table — family, gathering with my family. And downstairs, cool yellowed photos from his football scrapbook, dramatically framed and lending a bit of gravitas to the usual Technicolor nonsense blaring from the TV and surround sound speakers, most nights, all weekend.

Today would have been Don Foutz’s 100th birthday. I thought it a fitting tribute to share some of the photos I’ve collected in my research. And remember a lifetime, each in our own way.

Don Foutz: 66 Years in Photographs

(Scroll to view the gallery below, or click on any photo for a closeup slideshow.)

Categories: Foutz, Milestones | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

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