It is with heavy hearts that we share that Orpha “Geraldine” Wade surrounded by her family went home to glory on Nov 16, 2023. Gerry was 101 and a half to the day. A decade ago, she had started to celebrate her ½ year birthday milestones. Her family was beginning to gather with more family expected to join soon with a lovely marble birthday cake when she passed in her home on Thursday late afternoon in her sleep.
Gerry’s story began 101 and a half years ago to the day. Orpha Geraldine (Brandenburg) Wade was born May 16, 1922, in Farmersville, Ohio. Gerry was the daughter of Ralph and Hazel Brandenburg. Gerry was predeceased by her mother, father, younger sister Mary Ellen Stevenson, Son-in-law William Harvey Knight and her great grandson Bailey Knight-Santos.
Gerry is survived by her loving and devoted daughters Linda Knight of Lansford, North Dakota and Pegge Hudson (Carl) of West Carrollton, Ohio. Gerry is also blessed with 8 cherished grandchildren, 22 great grandchildren and 20 great great-grandchildren.
Missy Maxell (Eddie Wright)
Bryan (Shelly Knight)
Brook (Thomas Santos)
Jeff (Amanda Hudson)
Becki (Brandon Metz)
Mendi (Kevin Martz)
Drew (Jess Dedden)
Megan (Hunter West)
Mathew (Leilani Rojas)
Lucas Knight (Hanna Howell)
Dean Maxell (Bri Slaven)
Sean (Jylian Jenkins)
William Bailey Knight
Eric Corbett (Taylor Luebbers)
T Berkley Santos
J Bryden Santos (Mekenna Rapp)
Great Great-Grandchildren (20)
Orpha Geraldine Wade was a superhero. Like most superheroes with two first names, Mrs. Wade was no exception. She was quick witted and with a twinkle in her eye when being introduced was famous for saying “my name is Orpha.” If she was next introduced as Orpha, she would smile and proclaim, “my name is Gerry!”
Gerry was also known for at least one time wearing a cape as a superhero! Missy and Tony were toddlers and while Pegge took a brief nap in their living room Tony set a campfire in his bedroom. As the smoke began to fill the room, Pegge awoke to inquire what was happening, and Tony revealed his campfire in his bedroom. Pegge rushed the kids out of doors and secured them in her car while she called her mom for help and began to work to put out the campfire in Tony’s bedroom. Gerry arrived with a bucket in hand full of water and her cape. Well, it was not exactly a cape. It was a garbage bag she had placed over her head with the two eye holes cut out so she could see to put the fire out. That was our Gerry to the rescue!
Gerry was an exceptional woman whose life was full of love, resilience, and unwavering strength. She leaves behind a rich legacy of love and care that is engraved in the hearts of her loved ones. Gerry learned early the value of things, and developed the neatest hoarding strategies to recycle, repurpose, and restore everything that she could find a use for. This may have started from humble beginnings when as a little girl she would run down the railroad tracks picking up coal to help heat her family’s home. Gerry herself had suffered great loss as a child. She lost her father when she was nine years of age. The depression had just started, only to be followed by the Great War. That life experience gave her the strength to stand strong, independent, and care for others.
Gerry Wade started her family with her husband Kermit Dean Blosser. Gerry worked at NCR while her beloved served in WWII. Years later after a brief post war relocation to Barberton and Akron, Ohio with her toddlers and Dean, Gerry returned to Dayton, Ohio and began her journey as a single mother of two. Returning to NCR, Gerry met her future husband Kenneth Wade.
Together Gerry and Kenny began a new chapter together and working side by side honed their carpentry skills by building a home in New Vienna while they continued to work at NCR. In the 1970's Kenny and Gerry opened The Upholstery Shoppe in Washington Court House, Ohio. They were known for their work repairing and upholstering everything from Triumph British cars to high end antiques. Folks would travel hundreds of miles to hire them to complete the restoration of their textured loved collectables. She had a loom in the back room that she would use for making rugs. The family was often found in the store with the kids playing on the cash register or sometimes assembled in the back helping to sew the hems of drapes they had committed to completing for extra income. Gerry would include Tony in that effort as the whole family working together was the pillar of what was her signature, boys included!
While Gerry and Kenny’s retail efforts were much appreciated, at home the children did not love their upholstering skills nearly as much. Gerry, determined to make her investment in their home furnishings last had skillfully upholstered the furniture with a layer of thick plastic to protect it from the wear and tear of children and the occasional guests. The children struggled during nap time on the couch or quietly sliding into a chair as the furniture would always make a VERY LARGE SCRUNCH noise from the plastic coverings any time there was movement.
Gerry also had a novel way of looking after you when you were not feeling well. She always suggested a rag be placed on your head at bedtime as this would help you heal. She understood that heat would leave through your head, so a rag placed on your forehead would help your recovery. If you removed the rag from your head, it was not an uncommon experience to find that it had returned while you slept! Gerry’s grandson Bill remembers when he was not feeling well, Grandma would make her sassafras tea. That always did the trick!
Gerry was always a great steward whether caring for the home or business her family had built. Gerry had a discerning spirit regarding other’s needs. As a young mother, she brought a family member into her home for several years. Gerry always had the ability to remarkably throughout her life find a way to help provide for others when need existed even if she did not appear to have the means to do so. Sometimes it was the heartfelt gesture of groceries at just the right time. At other times it would be the extra job earnings from her shop in Washington Court House that could help her daughter raise her children. This family working together was, yet another signature of her life well lived. Gerry enjoyed leading Sunday school classes and the occasional youth group at church with her husband. It was not all work and helping others. Sometimes it was the simple pleasure of providing an environment where the imagination could take you to another place. She had a small cabinet filled with dishes that the children would often play in while dressing up in her fancy shoes and jewelry. There were always little treasures about. The grandchildren were thrilled to learn she had an Oatmeal container filled with an endless supply of no bake oatmeal cookies. Today the dishware and cabinet that the grandchildren played with are now being shared with another generation of children continuing this legacy of love from grandma.
It is incredible with all of the family she had how many she was able to encourage and help. Her grandson Bill recalls her getting him a job baling hay. Her sage insights were so helpful for him now looking back. Another memory Bill has of his grandma was watching the Cincinnati Bengals game when it was televised! So many memories from accidentally stepping in cow patties in the cow pasture to helping the young ones mature!
Gerry’s granddaughter Brook recalled visiting their store in Washington Courthouse as a child. Brook remembers going to a car show with Grammy and Papa Kenny looking at the cars, and one time meeting the actress that was in the commercials for Wendy’s that said, "Where’s the Beef!” Grammy would always have green beans on the stove and never missed an outing to the local Duffs Buffet restaurant. You could always bet that if you were at Grammys, you were well fed, and would never leave empty-handed. Grammy always was sending a quilt, table runner, crocheted pillowcase, towel, hat, or blanket home with you. Sometimes when resources were limited, Grammy would create handmade birthday cards or homemade gift wrapping for birthdays or special occasions. Those hand-drawn well wishes and pictures are cherished core memories of grammy. Brook’s children still have many of their birthday cards as a valued keepsake of Grammy.
Gerry's heart was filled with simply being surrounded by those she loved. One of the most extraordinary things about Gerry was she had something unique in her relationship with everyone she adored. She had special routines with each person that was something only they would do together. Whether it was with her granddaughter Mendy teaching her to crochet as Mendy recovered from a bit of a rough patch or entertaining her grandson Dean and his friends with chili dogs and egg sandwiches on a lunch time break from school. She could always be counted on to have something special that was exclusively yours with her. Sometimes she would share her affection by giving you a nickname like Eduardo, or sometimes purposely always calling Missy's and Deans Basset Hound Buddy by the name of Smokey. She knew his name was Buddy. This was just another way she would have fun with everyone.
Gerry was a great storyteller. She could spin a tale and with her dry wit, you may not know if you are hearing the truth about what happened or another story that accidentally may not be quite true. Yet we know many of these stories including her in the procession for the Indianapolis 500 races are true! What a life well lived!
Gerry was also fiercely independent, self-sufficient, and did not want anyone to take care of her. During a battle years ago with breast cancer, she came to West Carrollton to live with her granddaughter. It was during that time while she was receiving care for her breast cancer, she actually was found taking care of others. She was always taking care of others. This was her therapy, whether it was her mom, mother-in-law, her husband Kenny, or any other members of her family or circle of friends.
Gerry was known for telling you she loved you. A lot. And that was okay. Because, you see, the Gerry we knew, and loved taught us all by example…. how to be better humans, love one another, care for one another, help each other. And for this…. Orpha…. Gerry…. We thank you! We thank God for you, and we thank you for living the kind of life we all should live. Where our love for our family is never in doubt, where our home is a peaceful sanctuary, and everyone is welcome. This woman, this mother, grandmother, and beloved one will be missed as she was one of a kind. She is one who lived a century and all that knew her feel she has left too soon.
Gerry was a happy, direct, and strong woman who embraced life fully with open arms. She always kept her eye on living her fullest life of love which was a testament to her strength and resourceful impossible to defeat spirit! Her century of life of love for all she knew was her greatest accomplishment. Her legacy will forever be remembered through her loved ones and the lives she touched.
While we are sad today and mourn our loss of this exceptional woman, we celebrate her life and the invaluable lessons she shared with each of us.
A century of life, giving love to all that she could…and we thank you Orpha Geraldine Wade. Thank you for loving us….and we love you! There will truly be no one quite like her. Till we meet again…….
A visitation will be held from 10:00AM - 11:00AM on Wednesday, November 22, 2023 at the Newcomer Centerville Chapel - 820 Miamisburg-Centerville Rd. Dayton, OH 45459. A service will be held at 11:00AM at the funeral home following the visitation. Interment will follow at Germantown Cemetery.
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