Wanda was born at home in New Lyme, Ohio, in 1922, to Frank and Fern Shorts Mills. She witnessed many changes over her 95 year lifespan. She grew up a on dairy farm where draft horses plowed the fields. The house had no electricity and a cook stove was used not to prepare food and heat the kitchen. Transport was by buggy or sleigh before the Model T. She was used to doing tasks the hard way. She worked at Lake City Malleable during the war, a true Rosie the Riveter. With her husband George, whom she married in 1948, she raised Black Angus cattle, pigs and chickens and the grain to feed them. She churned butter and made cheese. Her delicious cakes and pies had to be made from scratch. She tended large gardens and canned or froze vast amounts of produce from them. She loved to forage for blackberries and mushrooms with her little black dog beside her. She was a remarkable woman, small but mighty.
She instilled in her children, Mary and Theresa of CA and Linda of Ohio, a love of reading and education, an appreciation for culinary skills and passed on her expertise in sewing, needle crafts and gardening.
She cultivated many friendships over her lifetime, keeping in contact with some grade school chums for 80+ years. She never had a bad word to say about anyone and her word was her bond.
Her life was not without adversity either. From growing up in the Great Depression, to loosing her only son, Gregory in 1964, then to tirelessly nursing her husband, George, for 10 years until his death in 2000, she never complained. She remained resilient, an angel on earth. She was predeceased by brothers Earl and Forrest and sisters Della Olinik and Mary Adams.
Among those to grieve their loss are her daughters, son-in-law Robert Vitale (Theresa), sister-in-law Irene Masters of Ashtabula, many nieces and nephews and a team of excellent caregivers: Connie, Earleen, France, Lucretia and Sage.
"So I rejoice in her long life well spent - a rock of strength among us."
Her life will be celebrated in California.
Internment will be at St. Joseph's Cemetery, Conneaut, Ohio.
Published on August 17, 2017