With her loving family at her side, Amherst native Olive J. Bemis (Gerber) (nee: Guild), peacefully passed away on Saturday, July 4, having experienced over 101 years of life and love.
Born on October 13, 1918, Olive grew up in Amherst in a much simpler time, before TV and cell phones, and where everyone in town knew one another. Over the years she loved sharing her stories of small town Amherst with her family and friends. Stories like the “ice man” who delivered blocks of ice to homes in the 1920’s, the traveling “rag man,” riding the trolley which ran from Amherst to Penfield Junction, selling homemade bread for five cents a loaf during the depression, all the while being ever grateful for the small, simple things in life. Riding through Amherst with Olive was a town history lesson, as she could tell you who lived where and when, as well as what businesses preceded the current occupants in downtown Amherst. Many of these stories are included in her book “When I Was A Little Girl.”
After graduating from Amherst High School in 1935, she met and married Oliver S. Bemis in 1940, in a quiet, family wedding held at her home on Park Ave. Olive and Oliver then moved to Elyria, to try their hand at farming. After several years of running an eighty-acre dairy farm, the couple returned to Oliver’s family home and business in which he grew up, Bemis Florist, (later Hixson’s) which they owned and operated on N. Ridge Rd. in Lorain.
Olive’s faith played a major role in her life. For over 70 years, she was a member of the Christian Science Church, Elyria/Lorain, where she served as a “reader” for many terms, as well as serving in various offices on the Board of Directors. Also a Civil War historian, Olive was a docent, curator and traveling lecturer for the 103rd OVI Historical Museum in Sheffield Lake. And the Amherst Historical Society often consulted and “fact checked” with Olive.
Her loving children include daughters Jeannette Bemis of Oberlin, and Polly Bemis Albrecht (James) of Lakeside, as well as her sons Cliff Bemis, NYC; Scott (Patricia) of Denver, CO; and Todd (Heather) of Columbus, OH. Step-children from her second husband Robert E. Gerber include Bill (Barbara) Gerber, Rockford, IL; Kathy (John) Zappitell of Sterling Hts., MI; Nancy (Dave) Veenendaal of Sun Prairie, WI; and Tom (deceased) (Denise) Gerber, Bluffton, SC. Her many grandchildren, great-grand children, as well as her nieces, nephews and dear friends, all held a very special place in her heart…and she in theirs.
Her husband Oliver, the “love of her life” and she always remembered him, passed on in 1962, and second husband Robert E. Gerber passed in 2009.
A private graveside service will be held on Wednesday, with burial next to her husband Oliver in Elmwood Cemetery. A celebration of Olive’s life will be held at a later date when public gatherings are once again permitted.
Memorial contributions may be made to the 103rd OVI Memorial Foundation, 5501 E. Lake Rd., Sheffield Lake, OH 44054, or the Christian Science Church, 309 East Ave. Elyria, OH 44035.
Please visit the Hempel Funeral Home website to share a memory and sign the guest register, at www.hempelfuneralhome.com.