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Published: 10/10/2003

Delta native had an open door

DELTA, Ohio - Mildred M. Churchill, 82, who made everyone in her midst feel at ease, from neighborhood children to the new spouses of second marriages, died of cancer Monday at her home.

Mrs. Churchill was a local newspaper columnist, a grocery clerk, and an office manager at a small factory in her hometown of Delta, but many people knew her as the kind lady whose house backed up onto Delta Village Park.

From there, she watched children learn to play Pee Wee football, baseball, and soccer. With a friendly smile, she would open her sliding patio door to let them in for a drink of water or to use the bathroom, Tim Churchill, her son, said. “Our house was a gathering place for people, I guess,” he said. “The smaller the kids, the more she loved them.”

When divorce and remarriage happened in her family, she had no time for harboring ill feelings about it, he said. “Nobody didn't like her because she made everybody feel welcome,” Mr. Churchill said.

Born in Fulton County, she graduated in 1939 from Delta High School. She married Vernon Churchill, a classmate from high school, after dating him for just a few weeks, initially going out on New Year's Eve in 1939.

“They dated and got married in 18 days, and it only lasted 60 years,” her son said.

Barely 5 feet tall and never weighing more than 100 pounds, she had plenty of energy. “There wasn't a job she wasn't afraid to tackle,” her son said.

The house they were living in was built with bricks from the old Delta town hall that burned down in 1948, Mr. Churchill said. She and her husband trucked loads of brick to the site of the new house and cleaned off old mortar.

“She not only carried brick and hauled mortar, she did it when she was pregnant with her fifth child,” her son said.

Mrs. Churchill held a variety of jobs at her mother's shop, the former Home Star Grocery in Delta. She stocked shelves, worked the cash register, and learned to cut meat.

From the late 1950s to about 1970, she reported on the former Delta Board of Education and wrote a column for the Delta Atlas, the local newspaper.

For years, she kept a scanner in her home to listen in on what the police and fire departments were up to. “She was not the snoopy kind, she wanted news,” her son said.

She also was an office manager for the former Little Dude Trailers, which at one time made boat trailers in Delta.

Mrs. Churchill was a member of the Order of Eastern Star and the Aetna Grange.

Her husband died in 2000.

Surviving are her sons, Edgar and Timothy; daughters, Penny Churchill, Hallie VanEtta, and Christie Huffman; 23 grandchildren, and 13 grandchildren.

A memorial service will be at 11 a.m. tomorrow in the Grisier Funeral Home. There will be no visitation. Arrangements by the Grisier Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Delta Fire Department or the Delta Hands of Grace.



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