Wilma F. Voss passed away at peace on Saturday November 26, 2016 surrounded by the love of her family and embraced by the comfort of her granddaughter’s hand.
Wilma was the loving wife (72 years) and grade school sweet heart to George, mother of 2 sons Elwyn and Ronnie, grandmother of 5, and great grandmother of 8. She is survived by her son Elwyn, 5 grandchildren Sherrie Voss of Fillmore, NY, Rob Voss of Norwood, NY, Scott Voss of Norwich, NY, Paul Stratton of Binghamton, NY, and Brian Voss of Norwich, NY plus 8 great grandchildren (Summer, Tristan, Cheyne, Maddie, Maisie, Bobby, Isabelle, and Connor). Wilma had recently returned from spending the summer at her cabin in upstate NY to her current residence in Norwich but was formerly a long term resident of East Aurora, NY.
Wilma was born August 15, 1922 in Fillmore, NY and raised on the family dairy and potato farm. Life was different then and she often told stories of the way it used to be. A favorite being the memory of her Dad turning on a light in the kitchen for the first time shortly after electricity was run to the house in the late 1920’s. She walked the 2 miles to and from school in Western NY even in the dead of winter through deep snow and was proud of the fact that despite the long and often snowy journey she never missed a day of school. The experience of growing up on a farm in the country instilled self-reliance and work ethic at a very early age.
The love story of Wilma and George began in grade school in Fillmore, NY when George asked Wilma if she smiled at him first or was it the other way around. He carved their initials on a bannister that their great grandchildren would 70 years later run their fingers across on their way to class. Despite family religious differences which briefly divided the two they were married on August 30, 1941 after George called Wilma who was engaged to this other fella and sang ‘Are you lonesome tonight?’. They stayed happily married for 72 years until George’s passing in 2013. One of our last family times together was the celebration of their 72nd wedding anniversary. Their love for each other, faith in God, and bond with family and friends were their greatest treasures.
Wilma loved her family. At family gatherings, she had a unique ability to make something out of nothing. She was always busy, never idle, and dedicated to helping others especially her family. She was tirelessly devoted to my brother Ron in his recovery from a car accident that took the use of his arm at age 4. Harkening back to her childhood days, she would pull Ronnie on a sled or wagon daily several miles to his therapy appointments. After years of that daily journey, Ron could finally grip with his hand. Mom never quite got over losing Ron in an accident when he was just 19. She was also fiercely dedicated to her grandchildren maintaining a close connection and strong influence on all of them throughout their lives. In the later years, my Mom believed that I (Elwyn) could do no wrong. Where was that when I was 12? I chuckle with the thought that you could talk about a lot of things to my Mom but best stay clear of finding fault with me. Wilma (and George) maintained close ties with all their family but they shared a special bond with their nieces. In the last few years of Mom’s life, those nieces have been so dedicated and brought her such joy.
Wilma was a true social butterfly. She could make new friends easily and those friendships became lifelong. Her favorite thing (even at 94 years of age) was to just sit and visit. She loved hearing about your day and sharing stories of her life in the country with family and friends. While Wilma’s body was slowly but surely wearing out her quick wit and feisty spirit were not diminished by age.
In addition to her passion for maintaining the connection between friends and family Wilma loved The Bird Club in East Aurora, NY. Having served as past President, this club facilitated her lifelong passion for birds and provided Wilma and George with a whole new circle of friends and many fond memories. Her bird club friends helped her maintain this passion despite being wheel chair bound and nearly blind. She’d use the phone to share bird sounds and her friends 200+ miles away would help identify which instruments in nature’s orchestra was playing that day.
At the end of it all my Mom missed her grade school sweetheart, lifelong friend, constant visiting companion, and soul mate George. It is impossible to talk or think about her without him. Together they left a legacy for the next generation of love, compassion, wiliness to always help others, honesty, respect, humility, good hard work, and self-reliance. In her final weeks and days, my Mom fulfilled her purpose strengthening the bond in our family and reminding us to look to their legacy as our guide for a life well lived.
For all of you that made a special effort to help my Mom maintain her independence, sense of purpose, and fulfill her social spirit please know how much it means to me and meant to her. I don’t know how to tell you what it meant when you took time to call her (sometimes daily), visit with her in her apartment in Norwich, be her guest at the Cabin, or invite her for a week-long family visit in the country. In addition I greatly appreciate those of you that made sure during her times of greatest need that she was never alone. I especially want to thank her care giver Natalya for all her tireless effort to keep my mom living independently happy and healthy.
Out of respect for George and Wilma’s wishes we will have a celebration of their lives next summer at Spring Lake on the home farm in Fillmore, NY where they wish to be remembered This place holds a life time of special memories for them. It where their love story began and where it will continue for all eternity.
Jennifer Inderlied Voss