MARYLAND — DECKER – Earl J., musician, storyteller and “Hillbilly from Hogback,” died at supper time Sunday, June 8, 2014. Despite his preference for leaving unannounced, his family kissed him good-bye. Born “Early” to Mary and Wilbur Earl Decker in Johnstown, he was followed by 11 brothers and sisters to whom he was an unflappable leader, a strong protector and the one who blazed the trail first down Hogback Hill to the two-room schoolhouse, and then through life. He was loved as a hero by saving others from near disaster (which he often caused), and he never lost his thrill of adventure, leading to the Decker Family Motto, Safety Second. The first music he heard was Mommy playing the piano and singing while Daddy accompanied her with the violin, and he filled every home he lived in with music. He played several instruments but his favorite was his guitar, which he used to teach Elvis how to play (an amazing accomplishment since he left western Pennsylvania for the first time in 1957). Earl was steadfast and bold, never frazzled and never hurried (except when driving, once earning three separate speeding tickets on a drive to Ocean City). He was the first call in any crisis, giving wise counsel and having firm faith in the bright side, always adding “Well at least… ” He was a hard worker and never complained, which was good when he and his wife, Joan, were raising their blended family of 11 kids. Their home in Columbia, Md., was safe haven for many, family and friends cycling through, the door always unlocked (the actual key was missing for years). But the center of his world, his heart, was Joan, and whenever he played his guitar and sang, he always chose one special song just for her and would look into her eyes as he sang it. Her death a few years after his daughter, Kathy’s, challenged his enthusiasm for life. It took a few years and a stint as a consultant in Singapore to return it, but he came home with optimism, and stories of dining on 100-year-old eggs and roasted snake. Earl was a constant, and highly entertaining storyteller. The tales were often long, always funny, and usually contained a valuable lesson or observation. He communicated through them, taught using them, and held his large and lively family together through the memories they contained. He went to every gathering and was the life of the party, often the last to leave. His family and friends know that for him the party hasn’t ended, it’s just changed venue, and Joan has been there waiting. Family will receive visitors from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 11, at Witzke Funeral Home Inc., 5555 Twin Knolls Road, Columbia, Md. 21045. Funeral Mass will be held at 11 a.m. Thursday, June 12, at Church of the Resurrection, 3155 Paulskirk Drive, Ellicott City, Md. 21042. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to Little Sisters of the Poor Capital Campaign.
- District Deaths Aug. 1, 2014
E. Joan Davis
DAVIS – E. Joan, 87, Riverside, Ohio, formerly of Johnstown, passed away Sunday, July 27, 2014, at Kettering Medical Center.
Billie Josephine (LaFollette) Hodges
HODGES – Billie Josephine (LaFollette), 79, Boswell, Jenner Township, formerly of Gadsden, Ala., passed away July 27, 2014, at Windber Hospice from complications of cancer.
KOONTZ – Judy A., 67, Keedysville, Md., passed away peacefully Tuesday morning, July 29, 2014, at Mercy Medical Center, Baltimore, Md., after a long battle with lymphoma cancer.
Sherry L. Nagy
NAGY – Sherry L., 49, Johnstown, passed away July 30, 2014, at home.
Kenneth A. Naugle
NAUGLE – Kenneth A., 94, Johnstown, died July 30, 2014, at his home.
Richard John Peterson
PETERSON – Richard John, 49, Johnstown, passed away Monday evening, July 28, 2014, at Conemaugh Hospital.
Evelyn F. Vitalie
VITALIE – Evelyn F., 75, Johnstown, passed away July 30, 2014, at her home.
- Today's Funerals Aug. 1, 2014
Paul Radnoti Sr.
RADNOTI – Paul Sr., 80, passed away July 13, 2014, in Hebron, Ind.
Samuel R. Saia
SAIA – Samuel R., 90, Johnstown, died July 29, 2014, at Memorial Medical Center.
Alex J. Stavish
STAVISH – Alex J., 90, Northern Cambria, died July 29, 2014, at Miners Medical Center Hastings.
Margaret R. (Shaffer) Hemminger
HEMMINGER – Margaret R. “Margie” (Shaffer), 93, formerly of Jenner Township, died July 29, 2014, at Meadow View Nursing Center, Berlin.
Carol R. (Schloski) Groleau
GROLEAU – Carol R. (Schloski), 56, Goshen, Mass., lost her battle with cancer July 16, 2014. Born Dec. 25, 1957, in Colver, she was the daughter of John and Olive (Spotts) Schloski.
George J. Stapinsky
STAPINSKY – George J. “Doodie” or “Hey You,” 85, Fort Hill, formerly of Windber, died July 30, 2014, at In Touch Hospice, Somerset.
- District Deaths July 31, 2014
- Today's Funerals July 31, 2014
- District Deaths July 30, 2014
Patricia L. Bakale
BAKALE – Patricia L, 81, Johnstown, went to be with our Lord July 28, 2014.
Stephen A. Christy
CHRISTY – Stephen A., 65, Johnstown, died July 28, 2014, at home surrounded by family and friends.
CUSTER – Margaret “Peggy,” 69, Johnstown, passed away July 29, 2014, at Laurelwood Care Center.
Kathleen L. Geiser
GEISER – Kathleen L., 84, Oakland, died July 29, 2014, at Arbutus Park Manor.
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