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Normagene Lavonne (Bray) Neumann, 88 years old, of Akron, Ohio passed away on April 16. She was the fifth of eight children and the youngest daughter born to Montie Monroe and Hallie Hazel Bray. Born in Champaign, IL, she graduated from Champaign High School. She met Douglas Neumann, her soulmate and husband of 64 years, while working at Ford Hopkins Drug Store near the campus of the University of Illinois. They married in 1948 and Norma attended secretarial school while Doug finished his college degree.
Norma and Doug raised two children and lived in Michigan, Indiana, Missouri, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania before settling in Munroe Falls, Ohio. Norma returned to full time work in 1970 when she took a position in administration in the office of Student Affairs at Kent State University. She retired in 1994.
Norma came from a large musical family. She studied voice and taught herself to play the piano. She became quite accomplished and playing the piano remained a source of great joy for her. Norma was an avid gardener, raising vegetables and flowers at the home she and Doug shared. Until recently she “put up” food every summer and fall by canning, freezing, and pickling the produce from her garden. Their backyard was an oasis for wildlife and Norma continued to feed the birds when she moved to a condo in Akron.
She was an expert seamstress, as well, and enjoyed many other crafts including knitting, crochet, quilting, and painting. For many years, Norma was a volunteer at McEbright Elementary School in Akron. She read to kids every week. She also knitted hats for newborns at Children’s Hospital and volunteered with Portage Trail Group of the Sierra Club.
Family was the most important thing in Norma’s life. Her greatest joy came from the accomplishments of her two children, seven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. She will be remembered as an excellent cook, always ready to put together a home-cooked meal for the family. She was the kind of mother and grandmother who never tired of reading to children and would get down on the floor and play with them at every opportunity.
She and Doug, who passed away in 2013, loved to travel. They rode in TOSRV on more than one occasion and took several bike trips on a bright red tandem bicycle. They spent many pleasant hours at Beaver Marsh in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. They visited most of the states in the US, along with Canada and Argentina, but they excelled at making a loving home for their family.
Normagene is survived by her brother, Harley Bray (Shera); her daughter, Sharon Tinianow (Jerry); her son, Douglas Neumann (Elizabeth); and grandchildren, Hallie Neumann (Octavio Bugni), Sam Tinianow (Sera Shaw), Kellee Lewis (Geoff), Zachary Neumann (Mallory), Jeremy Tinianow, Hilary Neumann, and Jessie Neumann; and great grandchildren, Mabel Day Lewis, Gus Bray Lewis, and Lola Dylan Neumann; along with many nieces and nephews.
She will be inurned in Crown Hill Burial Park in Twinsburg. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to the Conservancy for Cuyahoga Valley National Park at https://www.conservancyforcvnp.org/donate/honormemorial-gift/memorial-gift-form/. Services entrusted to Clifford-Shoemaker Funeral Home and Crematory.
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