Lois M. Rathbone, age 86 years young, of Willow Street, Pennsylvania, died peacefully with her daughters by her side on Wednesday, August 26, 2015, at the Lakeside Community at Willow Valley Retirement Communities, after a courageous battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease).
Born in Staten Island, New York, she was the daughter of the late Leonard F. and Gertrude M. Johnson.
Lois was a loving wife for 57 years to the late Gordon J. Rathbone, who passed away in July 2009. Lois was also preceded in death by her older brother, Elmer Johnson. She is survived by her two daughters, Donna married to Fritz Jones of Wilmington, Delaware and Barbara Rathbone Frank of Strasburg, Pennsylvania; two grandchildren, Marianne married to Craig Zecher of Boyds, Maryland and John McKenney, of Wilmington, Delaware and six great-grandchildren, Gavin, Kieran, Aiden, Morgan, Aisling and Julia. In addition, she will be lovingly remembered by her nephews, Alan Johnson and Terry Johnson, and her nieces, Sally Smith and Gail Tobin. Mrs. Rathbone was also survived by her beloved pet cat, Willow.
After graduating from New Dorp High School in 1946 in Staten Island, New York, Lois attained a bachelor’s degree in Home Economics from Cedar Crest College, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, in 1950. She earned her master’s degree from Temple University in Philadelphia, in 1970.
Lois taught home economics in several schools in the Harrisburg School District, and retired from the Chester-Upland School District in 1992. Teaching and nurturing needy students in an urban setting was her passion.
The Rathbones resided in Richfield, New Jersey; Pittsburgh, Carlisle and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and in Wilmington and Hockessin, Delaware prior to moving to the Lakes Community at Willow Valley Communities, in Willow Street, Pennsylvania, in 2007.
Lois was well-known for her kind and friendly nature, great thoughtfulness, compassion for others in need and enthusiasm for life-long learning, travel and the outdoors. Lois enjoyed spending time with friends, playing bridge and working on puzzles. Lois was an accomplished seamstress, quilter and knitter and also enjoyed crafting miniature room boxes with Gordon as they were members of the First State Mini Club, in Wilmington, Delaware for many years. Along with Gordon, Lois spent many hours volunteering for Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research in Newark, Delaware. The Rathbones enjoyed traveling extensively in the United States and internationally.
The Rathbone family extends a heartfelt thank you to all of those who comforted and visited her during her extended illness, including her many friends at Willow Valley, the nursing staff at the Lakeside and Meadow Ridge Communities at Willow Valley and to Dr. Simmons and the staff at the ALS Clinic, at Penn State Hershey Medical Center for their care and guidance, the staff and volunteers at Hospice & Community Care and the staff of Home Instead of Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
A memorial service celebrating Lois’ life will be held on Tuesday, September 1 at 10:00am at Trinity Presbyterian Church, where the Rathbones were long time members. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions in Lois’ name may be made to Tri-State Bird Rescue and Research, 170 Possum Hollow Road, Newark, Delaware 19711 or Trinity Presbyterian Church, 1120 Darley Rd. Wilmington, Delaware 19810.