Born as The Great Depression began, living a challenging childhood and growing up with five brothers, she was a survivor.
Tenacity and determination fueled her wonderful life, one that was lived richly with compassion and a sense of service that loved ones of all generations will remember and relish always.
But her final obstacle . . . it was just too much. Forging ahead on this earth in this life without the one who meant everything to her was just … Not. Gonna. Happen.
So, in the middle of the afternoon on Dec. 17, 2020, when no one was watching her nap away at The Residence of Chardon assisted-living facility, Lois Jean (nee Chapman) Woodard joined her dearly beloved in the Kingdom of God. She was 91.
Her passing followed by 104 days that of her husband of 70 years, Richard.
Born in Claridon Township — just minutes before her twin brother, Mike, on Feb. 13, 1929 – her maternal instincts first flourished in her teens with the arrival of her youngest brothers.
She graduated from Chardon High School in 1947 and went on to work for a short time at Diamond Alkali in Painesville.
One summer day the next year, she tagged along to her brothers’ summer league baseball game in Chester Township. She might have lost sight of the fact that Chester was Chardon’s biggest rival, but she had no trouble focusing on its second baseman. She married him on June 26, 1950, and spent much of a two-year period with him in Panama during his service with the U.S. Army.
Nobody in the Chapman family exemplified its competitive spirit more than little “Lolo.”
Pity the unsuspecting soul who would invite her to a friendly game of ping-pong, cornhole or Wii bowling. No, sir, there would be time for “friendly” afterward. For now, it was “Game on!”
Family members remember the sight of her stepping down from the kitchen into the family room, taking a break from preparing a hot dinner on a cold Chardon winter’s night and asking about the football or basketball game on the TV. “Who’s playing?” she’d ask. After getting her
answer, her follow-up question was as predictable as drought in the desert. “Who do we want to win?”
You knew better than to phone her during episodes of Dancing With the Stars or American Idol. Her trusty clipboard and pen at the ready, she may as well have been sitting between Paula Abdul and Simon Cowell. She kept neat and detailed notes on the performers of each episode – what they sang, who they danced with, what they were wearing and, of course, most importantly, who got “whacked” each week.
Always the “hostess with the mostest,” she would be smack-dab in the middle of many an impromptu gathering at the Woodards’ tiny-but-centrally-located house at 120 Goodrich Court. After ballgames, funerals, festivals, graduations, the welcome mat was always out – along with the beverages, the snacks and the laughs.
Lolo’s hobbies and contributions were so many, so varied. She certainly had a way with knitting needles and crochet hooks. Back in the ’60s, she crocheted a hunting sweater for Richard with this big, majestic pheasant on the back. It was just beautiful.
She always seemed to be knitting (“building,” as her hubby called it) baby booties, afghans and blankets and more. She helped Lori get into sewing with 4-H and, of course, was ever the enthusiastic supportive Mom at Jeff’s and Lori’s ballgames and school events.
She was an avid fan of puzzles – jigsaw, Jumble, word search, you name it – throughout her life. Well into her 80s, she’d build jigsaw puzzles on the computer, timing herself and sometimes expressing disappointment in her effort. But that was Lolo.
For 20 years, she was a devoted Election Day worker at the Park Elementary School polling site. It gave her a chance to see and chat with folks she might not see as often as she once did.
She was also not afraid to roll up her sleeves and help brother Ray and sister-in-law Norma with the lunch-hour rush at their popular Dari-Whip eatery in the heart of Chardon.
But perhaps – actually, there is no “perhaps” about it – the biggest mark Lois Jean Woodard left was in the hearts and spirits of those she looked after. Yes, her biological family, for sure.
But many others, especially all the little ones who were lucky enough to call her “sitter” throughout the second half of the 20th century. Now in their 40s and 50s, those little ones today say things to her children like, “Your Mom was a very big part of my childhood, and I have nothing but fond memories of her.”
Several times since Richard’s passing on Sept. 4, she has mentioned how blessed and fortunate she has been. This, despite the past two and a half years of considerable challenge for her. “I’ve lived a good, long life,” she’d say, sometimes seemingly out of the blue, adding that it wouldn’t be long before she’d see Richard again. “Ninety-one years! Who else in our family has lived that long?” Like a little girl in wonderland. So grateful, so gracious … and so grieving.
She is survived by her son, Jeffrey, of Lakewood; daughter, Lori, of Solon; twin brother Lawrence L. “Mike,” of Hambden Township; brother Ronald (Elaine), of Chardon; and numerous nieces, nephews, grandnieces, grandnephews, and her cherished great-grand nephews, Joao and Paulo.
She was preceded in death by her husband, Richard L. Woodard; parents, William N. Chapman and Dorothy I. Chapman; and brothers Gerald Chapman, Carroll Chapman, Raymond Chapman and William Chapman.
The family wishes to thank the incredible staff at The Residence of Chardon and the angels at All Caring Hospice for their tireless efforts on behalf of both Mom and Dad.
Memorial contributions in Lois’ name are being accepted by the Chardon Fire Department, 110 S. Hambden St., Chardon, OH 44024; and All Caring Hospice, 5000 Rockside Road, Suite 100, Independence, OH 44131.
Cremation is being handled by Burr Funeral Home of Chardon.
A celebration of life will be held in Lolo’s honor in the spring. (Bring your own cornhole set.)
Information and condolences online at www.burrservice.com.