Nathan Marshall Poff, longtime Ripley resident, died surrounded by family at his home Monday April 29, 2019. He was 101. He was born in Fleming County, Kentucky to the late Elza and Myrtie Denton Poff. When he was one year old the family moved to the Aberdeen area and he lived the rest of his life in southern Ohio. He was a rough-hewn country boy with deep ties to the land, a thirst for learning, a talent for art, and a compassion for others that shaped his century of life.
When Nathan was 14 years old, his mother died and his grandmother, Eliza Belle Denton, moved from Kentucky to help raise the six children in the household. He grew up milking cows, butchering hogs, raising tobacco, growing vegetables, hunting and exploring the woods and hollows around Aberdeen. He also explored the world through literature and had a penchant for memorizing epic poems, which he could recite from memory until near the end of his 101 years.
Nathan joined the Army in 1941 as part of the 502nd Regimental Headquarters Company of the 101st Airborne Division. After basic training he was stationed at Fort Scott near St. Louis, where he met Thelma Petry, who lived and worked in the area. He always said that he knew from the moment he met her that this was the woman with whom he wanted to spend the rest of his life. They were married January 23, 1943 – a marriage which would last over 75 years.
In September 1943 Nathan boarded a ship to England where the 101st trained until the Allied invasion of German-occupied Europe began. On D-Day, June 6, 1944 Nathan was one of the 101st “Screaming Eagles” who parachuted into France behind German lines. He was in Europe for much of the next two years, participating in campaigns in Holland, Germany, France, Luxembourg, Czechoslovakia, and Austria, including the Battle of the Bulge. He returned to the U.S. after the German defeat, and was discharged from the Army on October 8, 1945.
After his return to civilian life, the couple moved to Ripley, Ohio. In 1953 Nathan’s youngest sister, Dorothy, died leaving her husband, Hobert Daulton and their three children. Following Dorothy’s death, the two families moved together into the large white house on Second Street in Ripley where Nathan spent the rest of his life.
Nathan was a foreman at the U.S. Shoe factory in Ripley, where he worked for 25 years, retiring in 1979. In retirement he pursued several passions.
He was a faithful member of the Ripley First Presbyterian Church, where he taught Sunday school, served as Elder, Deacon, Trustee, and represented the church at regional Presbytery and Synod councils. For many years he loved singing in the choir. He started the church food pantry which is now named in his honor.
The yard behind the house at 316 South Second Street had been turned into a vegetable garden soon after the family moved in, and Nathan worked that soil for the next 60 years, first to help feed the family. Over time, as the kids left and times got better, more and more of the garden became dedicated to his flowers.
After his retirement Nathan took painting lessons and began capturing the landscapes, rustic barns, historic buildings, and scenes around Ripley in his water color paintings. His subject matter expanded as his paintings became a chronicle of the travels that he and Thelma and the family made over the years. His paintings reflect a more personal perspective than the boxes of photos of lighthouses, beach dunes, western mountains, historic sites and other places visited. During their travels he and Thelma visited every state except Alaska.
Nathan began taking college classes when he began driving Thelma to various campuses as she pursued degrees to become a teacher. While she took courses with a goal of obtaining her teaching certificate, Nathan took classes at Morehead State University, Miami University, Xavier University, and Chatfield College in subjects that interested or challenged him, with no particular degree in mind. He cut short his academic career only one quarter shy of a Bachelor degree when his driving services were no longer needed, but he had achieved what he wanted - the intellectual challenges and sheer joy of learning.
His later years were spent writing his memoirs and enjoying visits by family and friends.
He was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 75 years, Thelma, brothers Bert (Bessie) Poff and Billy Gene Poff, sisters Dorothy (Hobert) Daulton, Mildred Kabler, and Hazel (Clyde) Walker, son-in-law Robert Scheibly, and infant daughter, Karen. He is survived by his son Tim Poff of Oxford, OH, daughter Denise Scheibly of Olive Hill, KY, niece Betty McKenzie of Georgetown, Oh, nephews Barry (Pat) Daulton of Ripley, and Barney (Mary) Daulton of Ripley, four grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.
In his memory, the family asks that you thank a veteran or member of the armed forces for their service.
A memorial service and celebration of life is planned for 1:00 PM Sunday, May 26th 2019 at the Ripley First Presbyterian Church following church services. The family invites you to come and share your memories of our beloved Father, Uncle, Grandpa, Big Dad, Friend, and role model.
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