NORWALK — Arlene M. Geer, 87, of Norwalk, passed away October 2, 2020, at Fisher-Titus Medical Center after a brief bout of pneumonia.
She was born at Memorial Hospital on December 24, 1932, the only child of Glade E. and Mary A. Thudium, of Wakeman. The family moved to Rosedale Boulevard in Norwalk in 1940 and “Toots” Thudium, as she was known, started third grade at Benedict School.
Despite poor eyesight from a young age due to a congenital condition, she had an active childhood, swimming at the city pool often and learning to play the xylophone with lessons from R. Paul Laycock, director of band and orchestra at Norwalk City Schools.
Arlene was a 1950 graduate of Norwalk High School, where she played snare drum in marching and concert band and kettle drum in orchestra and was active in many clubs. After graduation, she earned a certificate as a medical transcriptionist and medical secretary in 1951 at Elkhart Business College, Elkhart, Indiana. In the early 1950s, she worked at the Young & Young law firm and for John K. Wells, M.D., both of Norwalk.
She and Robert J. Geer, of Norwalk, were wed on June 10, 1951, at First United Methodist Church, where she had played the xylophone at church services when she was young.
In 1962, she began working at Fisher-Titus Medical Center as the medical and transcriptionist secretary to the pathologist, a position she held for 35 years, retiring in July 1997, and where she made many lifelong friends.
Arlene and Bob had a wide circle of friends as they moved through life in Norwalk together. She was a longtime member of Beta Sigma Pi and the local chapter of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs (BPW) and was a founding member and officer of the area’s Red Hat Delights Club.
She enjoyed playing pinochle and euchre with Bob, his sisters, brother, and their spouses, and could always be counted on to answer to the greeting, “hey, Ma” from at least one of her in-laws. Her signature cherry or blueberry pie was enjoyed by all of her family and many friends over the years — although she would rarely, if ever, eat any herself. Arlene was an avid reader and enjoyed working the New York Times’ crossword puzzles.
For decades, she and her group of “gal pals” attended concerts, movies, shows and tried new restaurants together, always having lots of laughs and a wonderful time.
After retirement, she and Bob moved from their home of 40 years on Maple Street to Ridge Road into a house that he and life-long friend Mayor Robert C. Bickley, of Milan, renovated from a rundown three-gable farmhouse into a beautiful brick saltbox.
They became interested in genealogy, tracing their lineage as they visited area cemeteries and traveled as far as McCammon, Idaho in pursuit of more information. Research led to the discovery that Arlene was a direct descendant of Christian Fast, a first settler in the Savannah area of Ashland County who as a member of a Pennsylvania militia unit in the Revolutionary War, and was captured by Indians, living with them for a year before escaping.
Arlene had lived at Norwalk Memorial Home for the past seven years, where she made many friends among the residents and staff. She and her roommate, Louise Bartow, an NHS Class of 1950 classmate and long-time friend, were co-conspirators in Halloween costumes — notably appearing as Dr. Seuss’s “Thing 1” and “Thing 2” and as each half of a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich.
Over her lifetime, she was a friend to many, and known for her kindness, generosity, keen, wry wit and breadth of knowledge. Arlene was a lifelong fan of the Cleveland Indians, Browns, and Ohio State Buckeyes, and kept up with the Tribe right through this year’s two playoff losses.
She was preceded in death by her parents in 1969 and 1984, by husband Robert James Geer in 2008, and by in-laws Frank and Roselyn Geer, Jeanette and Jerry Kirkpatrick, Maxine and Marion Bellamy, Martha and RV Pylant, J. William Geer, Richard Price Geer (KIA, Korea, 1951), Jane and Jack Twaddle, and Donald Richards.
Survivors include her daughter and son-in-law, Kathy and Thomas Root of Norwalk; son and daughter-in-law Brett and Paula Geer of Tampa, Florida; grandchildren, Thomas Price James Root (Rachel), Leslie Jane Lawrence Root (Evan), Travis Scott Clayton Root, Ashley Williams (Charles), Alex Jacobsen, Natalie Regan Geer and Robert Nathan Geer; great-grandchildren, Mabel Kathryn Joanne Root, Helen Miriam Violet Root, Ezra F. Root-Behar; a cousin, Winifred Ely of Norwalk; and sisters-in-law Gayleen Geer of Norwalk and Jean Richards of Huron.
A calling hour will be held from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday, October 10, at First Presbyterian Church, 21 Firelands Boulevard, Norwalk. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. with the Reverend James Hodsden officiating, and luncheon at the church will follow. All social-distancing protocols will be observed.
Inurnment will take place at a later date at Arlington National Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made to the local Salvation Army or Norwalk Public Library.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Arlene M. (Thudium) Geer, please visit our floral store.