Obituaries for the week of June 11, 2020 – The Observer News – Observer News

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1926-2020
With a grateful heart, we share the passing of Mary C. Arpaia (Christodolou) on her 94th birthday in Sun City Center, Fla. Born on June 6, 1926, she was preceded in death by her husband, Vincent C. Arpaia; her son William; her daughter-in-law Kristine; her parents, Christo and Christina; sisters, Sandra and Julie; and brother Spero.
She is cherished and survived by her sons: Laurence (Bina), Ronald (Sally), Chris (Wendy) and Carl (Carmela); and daughters-in-law, Janice and Mary. She is admired by her granddaughters: Marisa, Kathryn (David), Frances, Elizabeth (Dan), Kimberly (AJ), Kaylin, Madison and Sage; and remembered by her devoted grandsons, Brett (Katie) and Kyle. Her six great grandchildren (Gabriel, Ellie, Olivia, Mia, Gianna and Ella) will miss her smile and competitiveness, and her many nieces and nephews will always remember her “energizer bunny” attitude.
A seasoned explorer, Mary travelled the world with fascination and enthusiasm. She initially caught the travel bug with her husband of 52 years, Vin, and following his passing, spent the next 20 years travelling the world to address her “bucket list” and criss-crossing North America to visit family and friends. A true adventurer to the very end, her last journey brought her to Iceland in 2018, where she navigated the trails of the Icelandic Ring Road and experienced the Aurora Borealis for the very first time.
Mary will be remembered by her many friends and acquaintances in Florida (Coral Springs and Sun City Center) and Connecticut (Branford and Woodbridge). Active her in community, her faith was her foundation and her church, her anchor. She was an avid competitor, player of cards and board games (“just one more game of RummiKub!”). She loved physical activity (pickle ball was a passion), food (those family dinner gatherings) and baking Greek delicacies (she was famous for her finikia). A lifetime gardener (she loved her fresh herbs and pineapples) and crafter (her afghans were cherished gifts), she escaped through reading and sharing her “finds” in book clubs. She supported live theatre, opera and dance and loved to catch the latest movies at the cinema.
As the matriarch of the Arpaia family, Mary leaves a legacy of activity, independence, exploration, curiosity, thoughtfulness, movement and, most importantly, love.
A special thank you to Dr. Rozon and the staff at Freedom Plaza for their compassionate care during such difficult times and to the nurses and home support workers (especially Myrna and Fran) who helped Mary live her final days in her home, surrounded by family. And finally, to everyone who visited, wrote, phoned, Zoomed and sent thoughts, prayers, cards and flowers to Mary in her final days at home, THANK YOU. Mary is now with her Vin.
 
Raymond Jean Cyr passed away on May 29, 2020. He was born March 24, 1918. The following tribute was written by his grandson Peter.
Over 102 years ago, the world welcomed a little French Canadian /American boy onto this planet. He was born in Ashland, Maine, attended a French-speaking primary school, and after moving to Worcester, Massachusetts, became a track star, earning him a track scholarship to Michigan State University. After his freshman year and WWII beginning, this young man enrolled in the Army Air Corp, earning the rank of Staff Sergeant, serving as a supply sergeant, MP and a French interpreter during World War II. Upon completing his service, he married the love of his life, Helen Seabury, and finished his educational goals by attending Hofstra University, earning his undergraduate degree, and then Adelphi University, earning his masters degree. He set roots down in Baldwin, Long Island, New York. From there, he became a teacher and principal of three local elementary schools: Coolidge, Brookside and Plaza.
He raised a remarkable daughter, Ellen, whom he always referred to as his “Pal” and became an inspiration to those who knew him in the community. He retired and became a professor at Nazareth College in Rochester, New York. There are so many remarkable things I could say about my grandfather and the amazing life he had. I am glad he will now be with my grandmother in heaven, but I will miss his knowledge and wisdom. Thank you Papa for being “The Rock” of our family. Mom and I love you and will miss you forever. On se souviendra toujours de toi. Jusqu’à ce que nous retrouvions mon grand-père.
He was preceded in death by his wife Helen Elizabeth Seabury Cyr. He leaves behind a daughter, Ellen Cyr (Sun City Center); grandson Peter Jennings (Tampa); brother, Rene Cyr (Worcester, Mass.); and numerous nieces and nephews in New York, Rhode Island, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Due to the corona virus, interment at Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota will be announced at a later date. Arrangements by Sun City Center Funeral Home, 813-634-9900.
 
Nancy Hunter Cameron DeWilde, 86, of Sun City Center, Florida, passed away May 29 after a medical emergency. She had family by her side. Born in Union, Maine, Nancy spent her childhood in Brooklyn, N.Y., attending PSA 102 and Fort Hamilton HS. Nancy was in the class of 1955 at the University of Maine, Orono, where she met her husband of 56 years, John DeWilde, who predeceased her.
Nancy worked in pathology labs at Eastern Maine general hospital, Mound Park Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Salem Hospital in Maine. She raised three children in Hillsboro, N.H., and Wilmington, Mass., while being very active in both communities. Along the way she had leadership roles in Hillsboro Fortnightly Women’s Club, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts, Wilmington Recreation Dept., Wilmington Methodist Church, and was on the BOD for HAWC (Help for Abused Women and Children). She also had several different jobs in Wilmington as the children got older.
Nancy enjoyed her summer home on Seven Tree Pond in Union, Maine, throughout her life.
After John’s retirement from GTE, John and Nancy traveled throughout North America via RV for 13 years. They then bought a waterfront home in Sun City Center, FL. There Nancy and John were ambulance drivers and first responders for the Sun City Center Emergency Squad. In addition, Nancy was very active in SCC Mac Users Group and Shuffleboard Club. She was also an active HAM radio operator and a CERT and hospice volunteer.
She was physically active her entire life, and especially loved playing volleyball (was president and treasurer at SCC for many years) and pickleball (on the board of that club, also), playing both sports up until she passed.
Nancy loved dancing as well as music and was in several choirs.
She was known to be very friendly, fun, up for anything, including being a bit mischievous. She will be fondly remembered by people she touched everywhere she went.
Nancy is survived by daughter Catherine and husband Michael Lyons of Marblehead, Mass.; daughter Jennifer and husband Harold Caswell of Cape Elizabeth, Maine: son Richard and wife Brenda DeWilde of Wendell, N.C; her grandchildren: Stephanie Lyons, Cameron and Cole Caswell: and her loving partner of the last few years, Gene Brookhart.
A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Gifts in memory of Nancy can be made payable to the University of Maine Foundation, Two Alumni Place, Orono, Maine 04469-5792 or online at umainefoundation.org/memorial for the John A. and Nancy Cameron DeWilde Fund.
 
Marlene S. Frederick passed away at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Tampa, on May 30, 2020. She was born on April 10, 1934, in Monessen, P.A., the only child of Michael and Helen Selepchak, and graduated from Monessen High school. She received a Bachelor of Education from California State Teachers College of Pa., California, Pa. She went on to teach in the Parma, Ohio, School System and was married to Don in her home town of Monessen on Dec. 28, 1957. Don changed employers and worked on construction projects in New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey and was transferred to Florida in 1962, and the family settled in Brandon.
After her last child was born and had started school, she resumed her teaching career at Nativity Catholic School in Brandon. In 1979 Don was transferred to Saudi Arabia, and she taught in an International School at the U.S. Consulate. Arriving back in Florida in 1982, she taught at the Academy of the Holy Names in Tampa, and, finally, for the Hillsborough County School System.
She was preceded in death by an infant daughter, Mary. She is survived by husband, Don; daughter, Susan Balter (Gene) of Taylorsville, Ky.; grandchildren, Rebecca (Mason) and Daniel (Kacey); great-grandchildren: Jeremiah and Juliana, all of Tampa, and Anne Atalay (Fikret) of Atlanta, Ga.; son, Stephen (Frances) of North Richland Hills, Texas; grandchildren, Jessica and Amanda (Adam); great-grandchildren, Kaylie and Mason, all of Texas; son James (Sheila); son David (Jeanine); grandchildren, Hope and Jack of Tampa; and daughter Carol Mamula (Jon) of Coppell, Texas.
Marlene was very active in church activities and while at Nativity in Brandon worked on various women’s groups involved in the school and its annual carnival. After returning from Saudi Arabia, she became active in women’s committees at St. Francis of Assisi in Seffner and also joined the Salesians of St. John Bosco at Mary Help of Christians Church in Tampa. She became coordinator of that group and was then elected to their District Council and later became a World Council delegate. She served eight years in that capacity and guided that organization in the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Ireland and Malta.
She and Don moved to Sun City Center in 2002 after she retired from teaching and became involved with Prince of Peace Catholic Church as a Eucharistic Minister and greeter, was a member of the Council of Catholic Women and was later elected president. She also served on the St. Petersburg Diocese of Catholic Women and other diocesan organizations. She served in the Prison Ministry and mentored women at the now closed Women’s Prison in Balm, Florida. She also mentored juvenile boys at the Falkenburg Prison in Tampa and was still active with the Salesians until her death.
A visitation for Marlene was held Thursday, June 4, 2020, from 5 to 7 p.m. at Hillsboro Memorial Funeral Home, 2323 W. Brandon Blvd., Brandon, FL 33511. A funeral mass occured Friday, June 5, 2020, from 11 a.m. to noon at Prince of Peace Catholic Church, 702 Valley Forge Blvd., Sun City Center, FL 33573, with interment to follow at Sylvan Abbey Memorial Park in Clearwater.
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to John Bosco Salesians at Mary Help of Christian Church in Tampa.
 
On Thursday, May 14, 2020, Gloria Kreiger, loving wife and mother of two, passed away at the age of 77.
Gloria was born February 2, 1943, in Springfield, Illinois, to Leroy and Lila (Rogers) Keiser. On June 13, 1965, she married Richard Kreiger Jr. They raised a son (Rick) and daughter (Julie).
She received her associate’s degree in nursing from Lincoln Land Community College in 1971 and worked as a registered nurse at St. John’s Hospital in Springfield, Illinois, for 25 years before retiring to Florida in 1996.
Gloria’s first priority was always her family. She was dedicated to supporting their needs and making family gatherings fun and memorable. Gloria was a voracious reader and a big fan of watching college athletics. She was also known for her quick wit and love of animals. She will be dearly missed.
Gloria was preceded in death by her parents, Leroy and Lila. She is survived by her husband Richard; son, Rick (Rebecca) Kreiger; daughter, J­ulie (Mark) Stielow; and brother Wayne (Judy) Keiser. She is also survived by grandchildren: Emily Kreiger, Michael Kreiger, Matthew Kreiger and Kaitlyn Stielow.
 
Mary Lou Leaders passed away on June 4, 2020, in Sun City Center, Fla. Mary Lou was born on August 21, 1927, in Morenci, Mich. She attended Adrian College and Michigan State University and graduated in 1950 with a Bachelor’s Degree. She moved to Florida in 1965, where she became a teacher. In 1966 she taught the first kindergarten class at the United Methodist Church in Ruskin, Fla., and then continued her teaching career in the local area.
She was predeceased by her husband, Robert L. Leaders Jr. She is survived by her daughter, Lori Johnson (Richard); step-son, Rance L. Leaders (Linda), of Michigan; step grand-daughter, Amber Leaders, and step-grandson, Grant Leaders, both of Washington; niece, Nancy Buck Graf; and nephews, Larry Buck, Richard Buck and Thomas Buck, all of California.
She will be interred alongside her beloved husband at the Sarasota National Cemetery in Sarasota, Fla. Arrangements by Sun City Center Funeral Home, 813-634-9900.
 
Adrienne “Billie” Place Leeper, age 90, of Bristol, Tenn., passed away on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at Elmcroft of Bristol. She was born on July 1, 1929, in Norfolk, Va., a daughter of the late Sterling Palmer and Lucille Williams Potts. Along with her parents, she was preceded in death by her sisters, Sarah Hudson Bartlett and Lucille Walker.
Billie graduated from Maury High School in Norfolk. She attended William and Mary College and then James Madison University where she received her master’s degree in early childhood education. She was employed with the Franklin County, Va. School System. Billie was an avid hiker and loved to travel. She was a proud member of the National Audobon Society and supported Greenpeace, The Sierra Club and National Parks Conservation Association.
She is survived by her sons, Kelly Victor Place and companion Katherine Lim and Scott Place and wife Cindy; grandchildren: Ryan Place, Stephanie Place Buchanan and husband Matt and Tyler Place and fiancée Lorrie Martin; great grandson, Jackson Palmer Buchanan; and many loved nieces and nephews.
Per Billie’s wishes, she will be cremated and no formal services will be held.
Condolences and memories may be shared with the family and viewed by visiting www.oakley-cook.com. Arrangements especially for Mrs. Leeper and her family have been made through Oakley-Cook Funeral Home & Crematory.
 
Robert G. Lequia was born on September 6, 1934, to Joseph and Roseanna Lequia in Escanaba, Michigan. Robert accepted God’s hand on May 31, 2020, at 6:32 p.m. in Sun City, Fla., with his wife Betty and son Rodney by his side. Robert was preceded in death by his parents; his brothers: Richard, Frances, Paul, Joe and Ken; and sister, Theresa. Robert Lequia married Elizabeth Fennell on April 12, 1958, in Camp Grove, Ill. They were blessed with five children: Joseph Lequia and Angie of Centralia, Ill.; Mary Beth Pringle of Le Belle, Fla.; Diane Mahoney and Russ of Sody Daisy, Tenn.; Timothy Lequia and Debbie of West Peoria, Ill.; and Rodney Lequia and Joline of Henry, Ill. Robert also had 52 grandkids and great-grandkids. He is also survived by one sister, Rosemary Sankovitch of Escanaba, Mich.
Robert Lequia began as an x-ray technician at OSF St. Francis in Peoria and later owned and operated several businesses in the Illinois Valley, including grocery stores in Lacon, Henry, Hennepin and Chillicothe as Bob’s Sav Mor. He owned a hotel in Michigan known as Tuck Me Inn and Clearview Mobile Home Park in Henry, Ill. Robert retired from LeQuia & Associates Insurance and Real Estate in Henry.
Robert enjoyed his faith as a Catholic and participating in the Knights of Columbus as a grand knight and district grand knight. He was awarded the 4th degree knight while being part of the Knights of Columbus. In his free time Robert enjoyed golfing, playing cards and fishing.
Services for Robert Lequia will be held at St. Anne Catholic Church in Ruskin, Fla., on June 11 at 10 a.m. There will be a service in Henry, Ill., at a later date. Robert will be placed to rest at Calvary Cemetery in Henry, Ill. at that time. Memorials may be made to St. Anne Catholic Church Food Pantry.
 
Aug. 24,1922 – June 5, 2020
Ed Watson grew up in Salem, Mass., during the Great Depression. The suffering he witnessed at that time shaped forever the compassion that Ed felt for others throughout his life. Ed died peacefully in his sleep at the age of 97.
During World War II, Ed was a chief airplane mechanic in the Army Air Corps. He was last stationed in Okinawa, Japan.
Ed was preceded in death by his first wife Christine; three of their sons: Robert, Glenn and David; and by his second wife, Darlene (Dolly). He is survived by his remaining son John; multiple grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and stepchildren, Pamela Ross and Brad Mehring.
In business, Ed owned a monument company and operated two cemeteries in Georgia and Alabama. Among his passions were golf, tennis, skiing and boating. While living in St. Petersburg, Fla., he was commodore at the Island Estates Yacht Club. His love of travel took him to many countries, including a safari in Africa, and on multiple cruises with Carolyn Hunter, his beloved partner in the last 14 years of his life.
Ed was an artist who sold and generously gave many of his paintings to family and friends. Ed was especially passionate about playing the harmonica. He was a member of the Front Porch Pickers, the Banjo Buddies and a harmonica music group that performed every Monday at Sun Towers retirement home.
The sweet sounds of Ed’s harmonica will live forever in the hearts of those who loved him.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be given to LifePath Hospice in Sun City Center, Fla.

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