her Life

Song to Canada

The only reading mom wanted for her funeral was a song written by Nell Valentine, a longtime friend she knew from Canada.  Below this section are short stories I have put together to help paint a picture of my mom. If you don’t have time to read through them and just want to pay your respects and see mom one last time, you can find a section at the bottom of this page under “Mom at Peace.”


One of my earliest memories is the “Jeffy Story.” It was about how I was born out of love and that my parents had made an extremely difficult decision to send me to live with another mommy and daddy who couldn’t have kids. It was the story that my parents told me about how I was adopted. Mom desperately wanted kids but couldn’t have them and therefore, was determined to adopt one of her own. She spent years and hours contacting different organizations until one day, while at Sand Lake, Canada, they received a call that a baby was available. My parents rushed home, and there I was. Many of you reading this know that this was the definition of mom’s happiness.

Sand Lake, Canada

Over the years, my parents made sure we lived near the woods and we spent hours on walks and playing outside. I was taught to love nature on our yearly trips to Sand Lake where we stayed in a log cabin with no phones or cable and we hauled our water in five-gallon buckets from a pump, used an outhouse, and bathed in the lake. We would water ski, swim, and fish, but most of mom’s fishing consisted of watching loons, staring at the scenery, looking for loons, gazing at sunsets, checking out loons, and buying loon paraphernalia. I would be surprised if she actually cast her line five times while we were out fishing. That being said, one year she caught the biggest fish out of everyone at camp and won the trophy hat. But this was her sanctuary, her special place, a place that she always dreamed of, revisited in her mind, and the place she chose for her final resting place.

A funny story for me yet terrifying for her, was when she took the boat out by herself for the first time. She got the throttle stuck in full speed reverse and was screaming while going in circles. She finally figured out how to shut the engine off, but she never drove that boat after that.

Recycle America Daily - R.A.D.

My family moved to Okemos, Michigan in 1989. When I was in 5th or 6th grade, mom convinced me and two friends to start a recycling company called R.A.D. – Recycle America Daily. Ever the business woman, environmentalist, and donor, she saw this as a great way to teach us about entrepreneurship, responsibility, and caring for the environment and other people. In Michigan, bottles and cans can be returned for $0.10 each and after our biweekly pick-ups, she made sure that money was donated to local homeless shelters. She taught me about hard work, and following something you believe in.

Hockey Mom

While in Michigan, I fell in love with hockey, which means my parents had to as well. Over the years they gave up weekends, woke up for 6:00 am games, spent money on expensive gear, and drove me all over the country. Mom spent hours shoveling the pond behind our house in Michigan and spraying it down with a hose so my friends and I could have nice smooth ice to practice on. Later in life when we were living in Ohio, I was playing on a Cleveland team, but the league was actually in Michigan. Most weekends, Mom and I drove to Detroit and stayed in a hotel for the weekend, just to support my love of the game.

Two Men and a Truck

It was in Michigan that mom’s newest baby was born. Her and dad bought a franchise of Two Men and a Truck and moved back to Chesterland, Ohio. Running a small moving business in Cleveland was challenging and late nights and seven-day weeks were common for my parents. The struggles never seemed to end, but over the next 27 years, mom was pivotal in helping the company reach its current success. I think it’s safe to say that Mom wasn’t known for her patience, but she cared about her employees, making sure they were receiving fair pay, insurance, and giving many of them the benefit of the doubt. There are at least six employees who still work there today that I worked with while attending high school.

Mom's Determination and Support

While living with her at the end of her life, she told me a story about going to college at Ohio University and majoring in business. She was one of 11 women in this program and of course she was top in her classes. She hobnobbed with the President of OU and his wife at dinners for successful females and eventually was offered an opportunity to pursue a Master’s Degree at Oxford and Harvard. Unfortunately, her family couldn’t financially support her for these opportunities, but she was proud knowing she had defied gender stereotypes of the time.

During her life, Mom lost a friend who was involved in an abusive relationship. Because of this, she routinely donated to women’s shelters, and, upon moving to Arizona, immediately became a board member of the Verde Valley Sanctuary (an organization that supports victims of abusive relationships) and volunteered at a thrift store that helped support it.

After I left for college and finally moved west, Mom was always available to provide support, advice, and a shoulder to cry on when things were really hard or lonely. She always listened and usually gave me an answer that provided guidance but also left it open to interpretation. She never wanted to give me answers, but instead, wanted me to find my own path. I always wished she would have just told me what to do, but in the end, I loved her for allowing me to choose my own way through life and learning how to be a better problem solver. She was always available to offer business and financial advice, moral support, or help problem solve whatever current issue I was working through.

Thank You Mom!

I spent my whole life knowing you were always proud of me mom, and you never judged me when I made (many) bad decisions. You inspired me to be creative, take risks, and be myself. I looked up to your business acumen and motivation and I appreciated the Thanksgivings we were able to volunteer at the Food Bank in Flagstaff. I loved our road trips through the Southwest and sharing memories along the way. You always tried to help those less fortunate and support organizations that supported the environment. Mom, you were a witty, intelligent, problem solver with a huge heart. Thank you for being such a wonderful mother and for giving me and my family a life that I will never take for granted. And remember, there is always an open invitation to come haunt us in Flagstaff if you get bored.

Mom at Peace - Warning - A Short Video of Mom in the Funeral Home in Case you Wanted a Viewing

Because of our current COVID times, reduced travel, and a limit on the number of people at gatherings, I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to pay your respects and see her one last time. I wrestled with putting in this section but I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to pay respects and see her one last time as if you were walking into the chapel at the funeral home yourself.

Thank You Friends and Family

Thanks to all of you for reading this and thanks for loving mom and supporting her in the many ways you have over the years. You helped shape who she was and she was a better person because of you. If you have stories to tell or want to fill in any information about Mom’s early life, please feel free to post them in the “Stories” tab of this website.