A generous and compassionate woman, Lillian Ness devoted her life to serving others. She accomplished so many things of which to be proud, but her greatest source of pride and joy was found in her sons, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews. She was an active member in her community and made many wonderful friendships over the years. Although she will be deeply missed, Lillian leaves behind a wonderful collection of memories that her family and friends will cherish forever.
Looking back on the 1930s, it is difficult to recall much of anything that wasn’t affected by the Great Depression. There were few jobs and a soaring unemployment rate that left countless American families without homes. Despite these tough times, Howard and Lida M. (Hoover) Stahl celebrated with great joy the arrival of their newborn baby girl, Lillian on September 19, 1935 in Wells County. She was the youngest of their growing family and her birth brought much happiness and promise to the family home.
Growing up on the family farm South of Ossian, Indiana, Lillian lived a typical childhood of the times. Successful in school, she made her family proud when she graduated with the Class of 1953 from Ossian High School. Her strong skill set in accounting landed her a position with Hefner Chevrolet in Fort Wayne. While working here and raising her two young boys; Danny and Kevin, a co-worker formally introduced her to Donald Ness who became her loving husband. With a beautiful ceremony held on November 23, 1966 at Hope Lutheran Church in Coesse, the happy couple was ready to start their lives together. Lillian and her young boys moved to the town of Coesse and joined Don, or “Big D” as the boys referred to him as, to make many happy memories together. While living in Coesse, she became a member of the Coesse United Methodist Church.
Her reputation with Hefner’s allowed her to remain staffed as a bookkeeper when they were bought out and evenly owned by Tom Kellie Pontiac. She worked steadily until her retirement in the late 1990s. When she wasn’t working, she spent nearly every moment with her family. Nothing brought her greater joy than to spend quality time with each and every one of them. As a young family, they frequently traveled around and visited places like Mackinac Island, Cedar Point, and spent time in the beautiful Brown County area of Indiana. She was not much of a camper and preferred hotels! As much as she cherished her role as a mother, she had no idea that she would treasure her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, nieces and nephews as much as she did! Each one of them brought out the best in her and she loved to attend many of their special events over the years, loved having her family get-togethers! She absolutely without a doubt loved to socialize.
Lillian held many special interests. Don was a skilled woodworker and together they would go to craft shows to sell items that they had made. She enjoyed watching basketball and was a loyal fan to her favorite team, I.U.! She has also a big fan of the King of Rock and Roll; Elvis Presley. She enjoyed taking trips to his Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee over the years.
Family meant the world to her and she was truly delighted to be able to give so much of her time to them during her retirement years. She loved to go out to eat, but mostly she savored the time when everyone was together sharing stories around the table or gatherings in the backyard. Described as a people person, a lover of children, and a nurturing and caring person, Lillian will be deeply missed and lovingly remembered by her special family and close friends.
Lillian A. Ness, 81, of Columbia City, passed away Tuesday evening, March 28, 2017 at Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Survivors include her son and daughter-in-law, Kevin and Tanya Gray, of Columbia City; grandchildren, Chad (Sunshine) Eckert, Sara (George Hawthorne) Eckert and Kaylee Gray; great-grandchildren, Gabby, George, Cornelia and Dawson; and many loving nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Howard and Lida Stahl; husband, Don Ness; son, Danny Gray and his wife, Debbie; sister, Ruth Beck and brothers, Robert Stahl and Neil Stahl.
Visitation is planned from 3-7 p.m. Friday, March 31, 2017 at DeMoney-Grimes, a Life Story Funeral Home, 600 Countryside Drive, Columbia City. Funeral services are 10 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home with Rev. Elizabeth Gilbert officiating. Burial will follow at Union Township Cemetery, where she will be laid to rest next to her husband. Memorial donations may be made in Lillian’s memory to American Diabetes Association. Visit www.demoneygrimes.com to send family condolences or sign the guest register book.
Casket Bearers for Lillian include George Hawthorne, Chad Eckert, Jared Owens, Josh Ross, Mike Stahl and Ed Stahl.