Grace W. Eno, recently of Newhaven Assisted Living in Butler, died peacefully on July 13, 2017, at the VNA In-Patient Hospice.
She was born on March 21, 1923, in Easton, Pennsylvania, to Frederick J. Weidaw and G. Camilla Sims Weidaw, the fifth of six children. All four of her older siblings preceded her in death: Camilla W. Harrison in CA; Clarence Weidaw in PA; Ruth W. Lorenzo in NJ; and Betty W. Clark in NJ. Her younger sibling, Joan W. Peery, survives her in CA.
Grace was raised in Easton, surrounded by immediate and extended family. At age 5 she became extremely ill, and lost all hearing in one ear, and most in the other. A recent blood test for Lyme disease indicated she had meningitis at some time in her life; in retrospect, that was probably what damaged her hearing. For the rest of her life, Grace struggled with two symptoms of labyrinthitis: vertigo and uncontrollable amplification of all sounds. Although the hearing loss isolated her in some respects, Grace did very well in school and began to enjoy writing, especially poetry. Throughout her life, she disciplined herself to keep going with her studies and responsibilities, despite the labyrinthitis that made everything more difficult.
A few years into the Great Depression, her father lost his store; then the family lost their home. When Grace was 10, her beloved mother died of cancer. Writing poetry become her refuge and her outlet. By junior high, Grace enjoyed dancing in a school “clogging” group. She planned to become a “medical missionary” like her Aunt Lottie, who was a government nurse to the Navaho. Grace was grateful when Alice Young Brittain came into her life, providing much-needed nurturing. Alice later became her step-mother, adding two young step-brothers to Grace’s family: Jim and Corky Brittain.
The year before Grace graduated from high school, her family moved from Easton to Honesdale, PA, where Grace met her future husband, Jerry Eno. Grace graduated from Keystone Junior College as a medical secretary, and planned further study to become a lab technician.
World War II changed those plans. Upon graduation from Penn State, Jerry wanted to marry immediately, before he was shipped off to combat in Italy. They married on December 9, 1943, in Alexandria, VA, where she was living. She continued working as a medical secretary, but gave up her plan to become a medical technician. Grace and Jerry had 5 children; after the first two children, Jerry was ordered back into combat in Korea. Afterwards, he was determined to control his combat PTSD by working hard on a small farm he bought for that purpose, in addition to continuing to teach high school. He was successful in his public life, but the brunt of his post-combat trauma was borne by Grace, his wife, without today’s knowledge of and support for PTSD issues.
In many ways Grace’s life typified the experiences of women of the “Greatest Generation”, with steadfast perseverance and devotion to husband and children, despite the stresses that came home with the men from combat. Grace quietly handled those challenges with determination, creativity and loyalty, at home and in the community. Over the decades, she enjoyed the children in her Sunday School classes, the Brownies in her troops, and what she called her “Day Care Kids”. She did her best to understand and encourage each of them, just as she had raising her own 5 children. Grace loved singing, word-play, and nature (especially birds and wild flowers), and she passed these gifts on to all “her kids”.
Raised Presbyterian, she joined her husband’s Methodist Church; Grace and her husband greatly enjoyed membership in the Unitarian Universalist fellowship in their later years. When asked about her faith, Grace described herself as “a free-lance Christian”. Although she always worked very hard to fulfill her duties, Grace was in many ways a creative free spirit. We will always remember her, and try to be the “good kids” she wanted us to be.
Grace is survived by all 5 of her children: Debbie Eno Hammond (husband Barry) in Butler, PA; Dan Eno (Christina Miller) in Dover, PA; Marty Eno Tollefsen in New Castle, KY; Tim Eno (wife Geri) in Batesville, AR; and Becky Eno in Rutland, VT. All 5 of her grandchildren also survive: Tracey Eno (Laura Magdeburger) in Celebration, FL; Alison Sprankle (Billy) in York, PA; John Eno (Kiarna) in Pittsburgh, PA; Albert Tollefsen in Eminence, KY; and Andrew Charlton-Tollefsen (Sarah) in Louisville, KY. Her six great-grandchildren are Kris, Ella and Abby Sprankle (in York) and Ashley Hall, Andrew and Alden Tollefsen (in KY).
The family thanks Newhaven Court at Clearview for assisting Grace by providing a place filled with music during the last year of her husband’s life, as she diligently worked to preserve his memory – and later for their caring support of Grace herself. We also thank Lori, the Out-patient Hospice nurse who was a very knowledgeable and compassionate advocate for each of our parents while they were living at Newhaven, as well as the In-patient Hospice staff for the caring, peaceful environment for their final days.
At some time in the future, there will be a Celebration of Life to remember Grace, probably in Honesdale, PA, her husband’s rural community, where this city girl lived most of her life.
Any donation in memory of Grace can be made to the VNA Hospice, 115 Technology Drive, Butler, PA 16001, or to the Southwest Indian Relief Council, 1310 East Riverview Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85134, or to the charity of the donor’s choice.
Arrangements are being handled by the Thompson-Miller Funeral Home, Inc., 124 East North St., Butler, PA 16001.
Online condolences can be given at www.thompson-miller.com.