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Doris Jean HeckerOctober 20, 1941 ~ December 2, 2017 (age 76)
Doris Jean was born in Youngstown on October 20, 1941. She was the second daughter of George and Isabel Mocker. They liked the name Jean, but they already had Joanne and didn’t think two J names would work, so Doris Jean she became. She was Dee to her siblings — Joanne, Sonny, Carol and Linda. Unfortunately, her sister Patricia, may she rest in peace, never had the chance to know her. Doris graduated from Ursuline High School in Youngstown in 1959.
She first met Ernie when she was a preschooler. Their families were neighbors, and Ernie and his two younger sisters, Martha and Sally, often played with the Mocker children during their childhoods. As Dee grew into a young woman, she developed a special fondness for Ernie. It took a while for Ernie to recognize what was going on. One favorite family story is that Dee would request songs on the radio for Ernie to hear, but Ernie would be in the driveway shooting baskets, not listening to the radio.
Although he never heard the songs, he eventually heard her. They started dating, and for her 20th birthday he gave her an engagement ring. For Christmas that year, he went downtown and with the help of a salesperson, selected a crystal rosary and a Catholic missal; she carried these down the aisle when they were married on May 19, 1962 and held them dear to her heart for the next 55 years of their marriage. In fact, she still holds them today.
They began making a home in Girard and then Austintown. Doris would eventually work for the Mahoning County Department of Human Services, but her real vocation was being a mother. Bill was born in 1963, Joe in 1965, and Kris in 1967. In 1974, Brian came along and the family moved to Ernie’s grandfather’s farm outside of Leetonia, Ohio.
Although they didn’t farm the land, life there was busy with raising four children, renovating an old farmhouse, tending a large vegetable garden, and taking care of dogs, cats, chickens, rabbits, sheep, a horse, a pony, and even a cow at one time.
As the kids grew, the farm became a sort of summer resort with a swimming pool, large cookouts, graduations, reunions, pony rides, badminton games and even Kris’s wedding.
As the children flew the coop, Dee began caring for Ernie’s father Harold and his mother, coincidentally also named Doris. To Dee, however, Doris and Harold were always Mom and Dad.
As the children married, Dee welcomed each new member as if he or she was her own child. Soon, with the addition of Erica, AJ, Jill and Peggy, Dee had a family of eight children. During this time, Joe volunteered Dee to make a cake for his wedding. This began a tradition of wedding cake making for Kris and AJ, Brian and Jill, and Bill and Peggy.
Dee deeply loved her children, but her heart grew bigger as grandchildren arrived. First, Bill brought her Josh, and from there,the floodgates were opened and before she knew it, she had Hannah (rest in peace), Michael, Emma, Mitchell, Ben, Bradley, Ellie, Dylan and Henry. They were her shining joy.
In fact, with five of the grandchildren in Columbus, Dee and Ernie decided to retire there. Ernie came first, while Dee spent a year in Youngstown living with her own mother and finishing her twentieth year with the welfare office. She moved to Columbus and, shortly after, brought her mother with her, and whether it was a highrise condo or a lakeside townhome, the family always gathered at Doris Jean and Ernie’s home.
If you’ve attended any Grandview, St. Catharine, or Hartley school activities, you know Dee was always there. She and Ernie came to everything: band concerts, soccer games, baseball games, track meets, cross country meets, swim meets, ultimate frisbee games, tennis matches, bowling matches, basketball games, and the list goes on. If one the grandchildren was involved in something spectators were invited to watch, Dee was there.
Doris Jean and Ernie are well known in the Leetonia, Youngstown, Grandview, St. Catharine and Hartley communities. They traveled several times a year to Denver to see Josh, Michael, and Ellie, and they became honorary New Yorkers when Henry was born in Manhattan in 2014.
Doris Jean’s favorite place to be was in her home with her family, but as a person of great faith, she also loved being at her church. Growing up, she attended St. Rose, where she went to grade school, received first communion, was confirmed, and even married. After years with the Immaculate Heart of Mary community in Austintown, and with the St. George community in Lisbon, she joined the Our Lady of Victory community in Grandview, followed by the St Catharine’s community in Eastmoor. She attended mass, Bible study, prayer groups, church events, served on committees, taught CCD, volunteered, and even traveled to Rome and the Vatican City.
Doris Jean was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in May of 2015. She met her diagnosis the same way she lived her life — with strength, conviction, faith, and a determination to spend as much time with her family as possible. The last few months were painful and difficult, but she found joy in watching her grandchildren, hearing the voices of her family, and sharing her love.
She died peacefully during the early evening of December 2, 2017, with Ernie and family by her side. She was 76 years old.
Doris Jean was the sun of our lives. We were the planets that revolved around her. The rays of her sun will continue to warm us because to know her was to know love.
Doris was preceded in death by her parents George and Isabel Mocker, Jr.; sister, Patricia; granddaughter, Hannah. She is survived by her loving husband of 55 years, Ernest; children, William (Margaret), Joseph (Erica), Kristine (A.J.) Coverdale, and Brian (Jill); grandchildren, Joshua, Michael, Emma, Mitchell, Benjamin, Bradley, Ellie, Dylan, and Henry; siblings, Joanne (Paul) Billig, Sonny (Kathy) Mocker, Carol (Willie) Thomas and Linda (Dave) Gunnels; and many other beloved relatives and friends.
Family and friends may call Friday from 4-7 p.m. at Egan-Ryan Funeral Home, 403 East Broad Street, Columbus, Ohio. Mass of Christian Burial will be Saturday at 10:00 A.M. at St. Catharine of Siena Church, 500 South Gould Road, Columbus, Ohio. Burial to follow at St. Joseph Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Kobacker House.