Joseph Gerald Stillwagon and Rita Jean Stillwagon
Rita Jean Stillwagon, 87, passed away on September 15, 2021, in Aptos, CA. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband of 68 years, Joseph Gerald Stillwagon, who passed away on May 15, 2017, at the age of 85, in Punta Gorda, FL.
They are survived by their six children, Judy (Jim) Berlucchi, Dexter, MI, Christy (Dan) Brune, Aptos, CA, Joseph (Roice) Stillwagon, Auburn, CA, Steven (Jana) Stillwagon, Dallas, TX, Jeffery (Selina) Stillwagon, Belleville, MI, John Stillwagon, Southgate, MI, many wonderful grandchildren and great-grandchildren … and still counting.
Joe had a long, distinguished career as an engineer at GM Hydramatic, Willow Run. He had a brilliant mind, and a tender heart (although teenage boys dating his daughters might disagree). He could fix anything, excelled at sports, and was a remarkable pianist - there were seasons when he played evenings in a piano bar to provide for his growing family, and recordings of his dazzling talent are a family treasure.
Rita was tireless in creating an appealing home while caring for six rambunctious children - her creative birthday parties, Halloween costumes, and holiday decorating were unforgettable. And her lively spirit could turn even the mundane into an exciting adventure. While stoic in difficulties, her unflappable, nature was always a comfort. Throughout her life, she was a role model, mentor, and good friend to many, and treated everyone she met with dignity and grace.
They were kids having kids, but possessed astonishing wisdom and maturity, and were fun to be around - there were raucous family games, epic vacations (six kids and a dog in a station wagon with no a/c), and an enjoyment of life that was contagious to all who knew them.
In 1973 they threw caution to the wind and opened a restaurant, the Woodstone Inn, in Ypsilanti, MI. Their passion, vision and hard work made it wildly successful - the food was renowned, and the parties were legendary. And they had a knack for making patrons and employees feel like family.
They gave their children the gifts of a stable, loving family, memories of a childhood filled with wonder, an appreciation of nature, art, and music, a strong work ethic, common sense, a ‘can-do’ mindset, and a deep love for God and country.
After retiring, Joe and Rita enjoyed their summers in northern Michigan and winters in Florida. They traveled, cruised, and enjoyed the simple pleasures of life - just being together, spending time with family and friends, and, of course, happy hour. They will be greatly missed.
A memorial service and burial will be held on Monday, October 4th, 11 a.m., at the St Clairsville Union Cemetery, 211 Maple Avenue, St Clairsville, OH.