On silent wings, Wilda's spirit departed it's earthly body and wafted it's way to it's eternal heavenly home. Wilda, aged 98, passed away at home, surrounded by the love of family members.
A nearly lifelong Ashtabula area resident, she was born to Lynn Ford Warren and Ruth Evelyn (Hinkle) Warren. Wilda attended Ashtabula High School, graduating with the class of 1941.
On November 27, 1946, Wilda married Donald Edgar Gary, who had recently returned from World War II service with the Army Air Force. The young couple settled in Sharon, PA, returning to the Ashtabula area upon the birth of daughter, Cheryl Anne, in October 1948. Timothy Wayne joined the family in June 1952.
The Garys lived on a farm on Hadlock Road (near the Ashtabula ford) for the next 52 years.
Wilda had grown up on her grandparents' farm and thoroughly enjoyed the farming life. She could just as easily shovel a pathway through shoulder deep snow, help to handpick a field of corn, or whip up a delicious coconut cream or lemon meringue pie.
Wilda was an excellent cook. Tim's favorite was chicken with biscuits in gravy. Her prize winning homebaked bread, still warm from the oven and spread with homemade butter was so inviting. All of the family, big or small, young or old, knew that a visit to the house would usually be rewarded with a glass of her special chocolate milkshake.
Many a warm summer day was spent with family sitting in the shade of the front porch, shelling peas or snapping beans to be put away in the freezer. Wilda also canned juices, peaches from the orchard and jams and jellies.
She enjoyed the outdoors, tending her large flower garden or hiking the farm's 41 acres, often picking up colorful or unusual stones along the riverbank to be placed in her garden. Wilda also tended a huge vegetable garden.
Oftentimes, someone would drop off a pregnant cat near the farm, which would result in a bumper crop of kittens. Wilda cared for all critters, but kitties were her special favorites. She also enjoyed birdwatching, her favorites being those jewels of nature, the hummingbirds and indigo buntings. This especially became a joy in her later years as she watched the birds at the feeders hung from the eaves of the house and enjoyed the company of a kitty.
Wilda volunteered with the Plymouth Elementary School PTA, with Cheryl's Girl Scout troop, rolled bandages for the American Cancer Society and collected donations for the American Heart Association.
She was inseparable from her cousins, the Reynolds girls: Wanda, Nela and Ada. The cousins loved to sing the praises of their Lord and formed the Ashtabula Gospel Quartet. They had a regular program every Sunday evening on local station WICA radio and television, sang for church services, funerals and other gatherings.
Over the years, Wilda was affiliated with several local churches: First Baptist Church of Ashtabula, First Grace Gospel Church, Berean Bible Church and First Baptist Church of Kingsville. For many years, she served as pianist and taught Sunday School at Berean Bible Church.
Wilda was employed at the Bunker Hill Confectionary Store, which was located at the intersection of Jefferson and Bunker Hill Roads, and was owned by Don's parents, Forest and Hazel Gary. She also worked in the lingerie department at the Carlisle-Allen Company department store on Main Avenue and at Covered Bridge Pizza in North Kingsville.
Upon Don's retirement, they began spending winters in central Florida, which continued for the next twenty-five years. They also sold the farm and relocated to a smaller property in North Kingsville.
Wilda was preceded in death by her husband, Don, of 69 years; her parents; her sister, Patricia A. Clum; her stepfather, Rollie Shady and Don's parents.
She is survived by her children, Cheryl Smith of Vancouver, WA; Tim Gary of Kingsville, OH; four grandchildren: Robert and Gwendolynn Smith, both of Vancouver, WA; Thomas (Melissa Fermoile) Gary of Jacksonville, FL and Mark (Amber Neimi) Gary of Sheffield, OH, and one great granddaughter, Annebelle Williams of Vancouver, WA. She is also survived by Cheryl's special friend, Carlos Chavez of Vancouver, WA, who always made her laugh.
The family would like to extend grateful appreciation to the following people who provided caring assistance: Nancy Vallen, Tammy Fink, Wendy Newman, Janice Kelley, Les Eames and the staff of Crossroads Hospice.
Services will be announced at a later date
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