Barbara “Dodie” Joan Newell Hovatter left this life on Wednesday, December 24, 2014, after a short illness.
Dodie, as she was affectionately known, was born March 16, 1931, in Mannington, WV, to John “Jack” Harman Newell and Ethel Gay Heckert Newell.
Dodie’s oldest sister, 10-year-old Marjorie Ann was overjoyed and thought that her mother had had Dodie just for her – a real live baby doll. Eight-year-old Shirley Elizabeth wasn’t so sure about this little surprise.
Joan graduated from Washington Irving High School in Clarksburg, WV, then attended West Virginia Wesleyan for a year, majoring in secretarial studies. She went to work at Hope Gas Company, where she met a handsome young officer equipment salesman, Don Hovatter, from Parsons, WV. They married in August 1955 and had two daughters, Donna Joan and Peggy Ann. The Hovatter family moved to Pocahontas County in 1962 when Don took a job with the NRAO in Green Bank, WV. They lived in that area for 27 years, then settled in Lewisburg, WV, after Don retired.
Joan was active for over 45 years in the Cass, Arbovale, and Lewisburg United Methodist Churches, teaching Sunday School and helping with Bible School, Christmas programs, and dinners, and was a member of the Women’s Circles in those churches. In addition, she enjoyed sewing, crafts, and ceramics and especially loved trying new recipes at home. Her daughters remember their dad remarking on more than one occasion, “My, that was tasty! But I know I’ll never see it again …”
As the girls grew up, they were blessed with a mom who was always there to listen and not criticize, who encouraged and never discouraged, who sang wonderful “old” songs to them when they were sick, drove them to practices, piano lessons, meetings, home ball games, and made pizza or cookies when their friends came over. All were made to feel welcome at Joan’s home, and she loved making or doing special things for her family and friends.
Many people remember the warm smile that Joan always had for each person she met. When she was in her mid-70s, she was the unfortunate victim of a stroke that did not affect her outward body, but instead damaged the expressive, outgoing speech gland in her brain, resulting in aphasia. Aphasia is an often-isolating condition because the person affected cannot speak normally or at all. What they feel or think has to remain inside because it won’t come out. If you’ve ever felt trapped, this is how people with aphasia feel. Many people think that because a person cannot speak or “isn’t the same” as they once were, that person must also not be able to understand.
In Joan’s case, this was not true. She was just as sharp and intelligent as she was before she was affected, and she didn’t give up. She kept her smile and sense of humor and hope and was able to beat her daughters at Scrabble for several years after her stroke. Even after she was no longer able to live at home, she still had a smile for each person she met.
Joan left this life and rejoined her husband of 46 years; her parents; her sisters, Marjorie Huff and Shirley Perry; and the pets that had been part of her family all of her life, especially Amy and Moses, her senior dogs who were a great source of comfort to her after her husband’s passing in 2002.
She is survived by her daughter, Donna “D.J.” Hinkle and husband, Steve, and grandsons, Benjamin, Luke, and Jesse Hinkle, all of Lewisburg, WV; daughter, Peggy Hovatter of Rivesville, WV, and grandsons, Nathan and Matthew, also of Rivesville; and grandson, William Harris and wife, Brittney, and 11-month-old great-granddaughter, Isabella.
There will be a Graveside service on Saturday, January 3, 2015, in Parsons for the immediate family.
Joan’s family requests that expressions of sympathy be made in the form of donations to Friends for Life sanctuary at RR02, Box 271, Lewisburg, WV 24901 (friendsforlifewv.petfinder.com) which Joan supported for 20 years.
McCraw Funeral Home in Lewisburg is in charge of arrangements.
Obituary originally published in the January 2, 2015 edition of the West Virginia Daily News.