Verena Saad, 101, of North Olmsted, formerly of Tiffin, passed away at 10:03 pm, on Mother’s Day, Sunday, May 13, 2018. Verena died very peacefully, holding her oldest son Jim’s hand, in the Joshua Tree Care Center in North Olmsted, Ohio. Her daughter Pat (Saad) Meterko and husband Ray, who had been her primary caregivers over the past several years, were with her every day, leading up to her death.
Verena was born in Bowling Green, Ohio, on October 7, 1916, to Rolland and Inez Shade. They moved to Tiffin shortly after her birth. Verena graduated from Tiffin Columbian High School in 1934, as the Salutatorian of her graduating class. On the night before graduation, Verena’s family received a call from the school principal, who informed her that the Valedictorian was extremely ill, and would not be able to give the speech at the Commencement. Verena was shocked to learn that she would have to compose a new speech herself, overnight, to deliver to the entire school and parents the next evening. She did, she excelled, and she received a standing ovation.
Verena met Carl Saad, a 1932 Tiffin Calvert graduate and varsity football player, on a blind date in 1935. They were married at St. Mary Catholic Church in Tiffin on July 15, 1939. Verena & Carl raised five children, each of them graduates of St. Mary’s Grade School and Calvert High School. She lived through World Wars I and II, the Great Depression, the Korean War, McCarthyism, Vietnam, and the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and RFK.
Life wasn’t always easy for Verena, who worked long hours for her family and kept a positive attitude. She often spoke of how, during the Depression, she would gather dandelion leaves in empty fields and alley ways, to fry for dinner. Often it was all they had to eat. In their small home on South Sandusky Street, they had limited means, and raised their 5 children without a car, or a TV, or radio, or washer, or dryer. But Verena and Carl made sure their family had clean clothes for school every day, food on the table, and 3 newspapers a day.
Verena was an excellent writer, and all five of her children learned from her and were writers themselves in one form or other, mostly in journalism. Verena’s heart was broken three times in the last several years, with the loss of her 3rd son, John, to a rare form of leukemia in 2009. In 2016, Verena lost John’s wife and her dear daughter-in-law Eileen to cancer. Her husband Carl passed away in 2003. They were married for 64 years.
Verena and Carl were active citizens in our democracy, and they helped in the Presidential campaigns of FDR in 1936, Harry Truman in 1948, and her beloved JFK in 1960. Even in her 90’s, Verena did what she could to help Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012.
Verena and Carl’s sacrifices, and dedication to their children’s education, led to a total of 41 college degrees among their 5 children & spouses and their 8 grandchildren & spouses, all emanating from that very humble household on South Sandusky Street.
Verena and Carl never ventured far from Tiffin, not having a car. But their adult children re-paid them for their sacrifices by arranging interesting travel opportunities for them, on their own and often with family members. Verena loved visiting new places and they traveled all over the U.S.A., including many trips to California, Nevada, the Grand Canyon, and Arizona. . Their North American travel also included Florida, Washington, D.C., New York City, Canada, and the Bahamas. Verena had a warm spot in her heart for Michigan and especially Detroit (where she and Carl spent their honeymoon in 1939 and their 50th anniversary in 1989.) They enjoyed many trips to Las Vegas, with Pat & Ray, even though they did not drink, smoke or gamble (other than occasional $1 slots.) It also gave them a chance to visit their youngest son Jeff, a resident of Las Vegas. They loved traveling to Europe with their son Jim & his family, including France (Paris and the French Riviera); Monaco (Monte Carlo); Switzerland; Germany (including a cruise on the River Rhine), Belgium, and Italy (Florence, Pisa and Venice). The family still enjoys watching videos of Verena climbing the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and the Leaning Tower in Pisa.
Verena survived five major surgeries during her life. Following her last surgery, she moved from Tiffin several years ago to be closer to her daughter Pat in North Ridgeville, near Cleveland. She fought back from near death in 4 of those events. Pat (and Ray) have spent many days of enjoyment with her over the past 10 years, along with many long hours of devoted and tireless caregiving - in their home, in the nursing home, and in several middle of the night emergency room visits
Verena survived two brothers, including James who died of leukemia in Tiffin at the age of 14.
She enjoyed a lifelong and close friendship with her other brother, Russell Shade of South Carolina, who passed away several years ago.
Surviving family members include her four living children: Jim (Mary Ann) of Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan; Gene (Christine) of Clinton Township, MI; Pat (Ray) of North Ridgeville, Ohio; and Jeff of Las Vegas, Nevada. Her 8 grandchildren include Suzanne Saad-Wu (Yitah) of Ann Arbor, MI; Martin Saad (Sarah) of Washington, DC; Lori (Dan) Strimpel of Brooklyn, OH; Pam (Jason) Joyce of Independence, OH; Julie of Washington, DC; Michael Saad (Erin) of Columbus; Patrick Saad (Megan) of Westchester, OH; and Jennifer (Sam Lentz) of North Carolina.
Verena was very proud of her 14 great grandchildren: Verena, Amelia, & Julianne Wu; Gabe & Aaron Saad; Jessica & Danny Strimpel; Aiden & Ava Joyce; Cody & Kennedy Saad; Rowan & Kaelin Saad; and Ethan Lentz.
A private family memorial was held with close family members sharing their memories of Verena’s life, at Traunero Funeral Home and Crematory, 214 S. Monroe St., Tiffin, Ohio 44883 (419)447-3113. Verena was buried, next to Carl, at St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery in Tiffin.
To send condolences, go to www.traunerofuneralhome.com