Ila Jeanne Paxson

Ila Jeanne Paxson

SALEM — Ila Jeanne Paxson, 77, entered eternal rest Thursday, Nov. 19, 2020 at her home surrounded by her loving family. She was born Jan. 26, 1943 in Salem, to the late Clyde and Edna Mae (Pearl) Davis.

A lifelong resident of Salem, Ila was a 1961 graduate of Salem High School and a 1965 graduate of Mount Union College with a degree in education. She was a member of Emmanuel Lutheran Church in Salem.

One of Ila’s great loves was children. Her entire teaching career was in Salem City Schools, starting at 4th Street School teaching fourth grade. During that initial teaching year, the building was condemned, and classes were moved to the Christian Church for the remainder of the year. She subsequently taught first grade at Southeast and at Prospect schools, taking some time off at the births of her two daughters. Ila then moved to Buckeye elementary as a third-grade teacher and remained there until her retirement in 2002, a total of 35 years teaching. After retirement, Ila stayed involved in education by tutoring students in her home and the after-school program at her church. Numerous former students stayed in touch with “Mrs. Paxson” via social media and cards.

Ila also had a lifelong love of music. In 1959, while still in high school, Ila began as the organist at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, alternating services with organist Helen Timm. In 1965, Ila was named organist for the congregation, a position she held until her retirement in 2019. During that time, she played for worship services, as well as weddings, funerals, and special programs. She also directed the junior choir, the bell choir, a pre-school bell choir, as well as being pianist for Sunday School and Vacation Bible School. The congregation held a retirement celebration for their beloved organist, Ila, following worship on May 5, 2019. One of the gifts presented to her was a music box. Much to her surprise, it contained the congregation singing “How Great Thou Art,” her favorite hymn, which was recorded that morning during worship. An additional honor given to Ila that day was being named as Organist Emeritus for 60 years of dedicated, faithful service to Emmanuel Lutheran Church.

Ila was an active member of numerous organizations including Salem Music Study Club, Quota International, Salem Church Women United, Salem Retired Teachers, Salem Historical Society, Youngstown area Delta Kappa Gamma, Ohio Education Association, Red Hat Society, Birthday Club and Book Club, serving as an officer in most of them for many years. Ila was the accompanist for area students auditioning for the Esther Odoran Scholarships and Marie Burns Scholarships offered annually by the Salem Music Study Club. Ila also served many years at her church on parish education and worship committees, church council, as well as recruiting volunteers from the congregation for the Banquet of Salem, a weekly meal served at the Memorial Building. Ila was also well known for sending cards and notes to offer congratulations, sympathy, or sunshine to family and friends.

She is survived by her husband, Neil Paxson, whom she married Aug. 12, 1964; two daughters, Amy Paxson and Judy (Ken) Eisenbraun; granddaughter, Emily Paxson; two foster children, Steve (Marilyn) Rowedda and Barbara Rowedda (Rick) Way; seven grandchildren; nine great-grandchildren; sisters-in law, Becky Davis and Elaine Davis; and a host of nieces and nephews.

In addition to her parents, Ila was preceded in death by her sister and brother in law, Esther and Robert Schaefer, and two brothers, Richard Davis and Clyde (Pete) Davis.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 at Stark Memorial with Pastor William Wilkins officiating. A webcast will be available after the service under the obituary on the Stark Memorial website

Calling hours will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020 at the funeral home and 10 to 11 a.m. Wednesday prior to the service.

For the safety of the Paxson family, please adhere to social distancing, do not linger, and bring your own mask.

If unable to attend you may show your support by joining our complimentary “Hugs from Home” program where your message will be attached to a balloon in the chapel to remind the family of your love and support at www.starkmemorial.com/hugs-from-home.

Share your respects and memories with the family with a recorded video message at https://www.starkmemorial.com/virtualhugs.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Emmanuel Lutheran Church, 251 S. Broadway Ave., Salem, OH 44460 or Salem Music Study Club c/o Sarah Gustwiller, 75 Garfield St., Lisbon, OH 44432 in memory of Ila.

Arrangements are being handled by Stark Memorial Funeral Home and Cremation Services.

To view Ila’s obituary or send condolences, visit www.starkmemorial.com.