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Lila Hohenfeld

Obituary for Lila Hohenfeld

May 16, 1928 - June 12, 2020
Marblehead, Ohio | Age 92

Beloved Mother, Grandmother, and Great-Grandmother

Obituary

Our beautiful, talented, and loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, and friend Lila Doris (Davis) Hohenfeld joined her husband of 63 years on June 12, 2020. She was 92.

Lila was born in Chicago on May 16, 1928 and her mother, Edna (Hein) Davis, died from complications of childbirth a month later. Lila was christened Edna Delilah Doris Davis at the side of her mother's casket. Her father, Dorris Dwight Davis, gave their new baby to his younger sister Opal to care for. When Lila was eight months old, her paternal grandfather Jasper Orra Davis was visiting Opal and the baby (Lila) when he decide to take the baby home with him, saying Opal didn't even know how to change a diaper. Jasper, who worked for decades as a department store stock clerk, gathered up a few things and rode a street car home with the baby before even consulting his wife. From then on, Jasper and Julia would raise Lila in a series of apartments on the south side of Chicago. Julia Burge Paulus Davis was Jasper's second wife and no blood relation to her. Lila would see her father only on rare occasions before he died when she was 16, and she always referred to her grandparents, Jasper and Julia, as "Dad" and "Mom".

Lila went to grammar school at Oakenwald, on Chicago's South Side, and then graduated from Hyde Park High School, whose famous alumni included Amelia Earhart and Steve Allen. Art was her favorite subject. When she was a child, she thought she was about to get into trouble when her teacher noticed that she was drawing rather than paying attention. Instead, the teacher admired her work, held it up to the class, and said, "Look at what Lila has done. She's made her own paper dolls! How clever!" As her skills developed, she put together some sketches, applied for study at the Art Institute of Chicago and was awarded a scholarship. But when Lila was about to graduate from Hyde Park High School, Jasper ("Dad") was unable to continue working due to throat cancer, and went into a nursing home, causing the family to lose their apartment. It was decided that Lila and Julia ("Mom") would move to Cleveland where they would move in with Joan (Paulus) Adelhelm and her husband Bill. Joan, and her sister Esther Paulus (who also moved to Cleveland), were Julia's daughters from her first marriage. So Lila reluctantly left Chicago, and her "dad", who died a few weeks later, and headed off to a new city where she was soon to meet the love of her life.

Lila got a job at the East Ohio Gas Company and quickly connected with other young women who, along with their husbands, would become her lifelong friends. She met her future husband when one of them set her up on a blind date. Joe was immediately smitten with this strikingly beautiful woman, and they married on January 22, 1948. He and Lila were both twenty years old. Two years later, Lila had the first of their five children. She had married a Marine, which meant frequent moves with an infant in tow, and a husband away on maneuvers during the Korean War. She enjoyed the adventure, but when the second child arrived, it was time to buy their first home. They had been living temporarily with Joe's parents (Anna and Ollie), and then in a tiny studio apartment. Anna was the most wonderful and caring mother-in-law and Lila loved her. Joe continued working as a lineman for C.E.I. after he left the Marine Corp and they found a house on W.158th St., not far from Anna and Ollie. Anna came to babysit whenever they went out. Lila painted circus murals on the walls of the upstairs play room. As the family grew, more bedrooms were needed. So next came seven years on Elsieanna Avenue in the Kamms Corner neighborhood. Then Lila had their fifth child, which inspired another move, this time to the suburbs —North Royalton. They bought a lot on Julia Drive, and Lila, Joe and the whole family spent nearly two years building their new home. They were still working on it when they moved in at the beginning of the new school year, in the fall of 1965.

Lila was a fearless homemaker, but also worked a variety of part-time jobs to supplement the family income. She worked several years at May Company Dept Store at Parmatown but her favorite job was working for a Cleveland market research firm doing interviews ranging from random retail level to lengthy appointments with corporate executives. She also managed to continue drawing and painting. At Christmas, the front "picture window" was given its true meaning when she sketched on it with soap to create a madonna and child, the details filled in with tempera paints so that it looked like stained glass. She always welcomed a huge menagerie of pets, both common and exotic — dogs, cats, birds, rodents, tropical fish, turtles, snakes, an iguana, and a chameleon. We all remember when dad had to dismantle a heat duct to retrieve an escaped iguana. And while an escaped hamster might be building a nest in a drawer under the oven, Lila would be at her sewing machine making clothes for her rapidly growing boys and girls. She entertained casually and easily. Their circle of friends was always growing.

The house was seldom quiet, and usually it was filled with music. Lila almost always had the radio on, and she played selections from her collection of 78 and LP recordings. She loved classical music, operettas and Broadway musicals, and swing jazz. She gave her children full access to her collection, resulting in many skips and scratches. This early exposure led them to further explore music, which was then passed on to the grandchildren, resulting in several talented musicians, both professional and amateur.

In mid life and beyond, Lila and Joe preferred living close to the water. With the help and company of friends and family, they built a lovely house in Marblehead, and spent most weekends there, enjoying the Lake Erie views and activities. Lila began painting on slate and on wood, and used a jigsaw to cut the shapes she wanted. Her subjects most often were children, dogs and flowers, as well as the Marblehead Lighthouse, which could be seen from her porch. Lila also began vacation-homemaking in Cape Coral, where she and Joe escaped each winter, always welcoming visits from their large family and many friends. After Joe died in 2011, Lila continued to live full time in the Marblehead house, now rich with memories, until just a few months before her passing. She died peacefully with family at her side at age 92.

Lila is survived by her five children who all live in Greater Cleveland — Linda, Joseph (Rochelle), Jeffrey (Debra), Leslie, Lisa (Matthew), eight grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren.

A private family service was held June 15, 2020 at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, your kind donation may be sent to the Cleveland Animal Protective League, clevelandapl.org in her memory.

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