Neva Eleanor (Witters) Lohman Heard departed our world early February 17, 2012, with her usual strength and grace. She lives on in our hearts, our daily lives, and the ties among those who loved her.

That so dear and loving a mother, mother-in-law, stepmother, grandmother and friend came from such a hard early life in a part of what made Neva remarkable. Born in Dahlgren, Ill., September 3, 1915, Neva lost her mother at age two, her young brother a year later, and her father when she was five. She lived with a succession of relatives in various southern Illinois and Iowa towns before graduating from Colo, Iowa High School at 16 and leaving to look for work in Colorado.

Neva was working as a bookkeeper for Woolworth's in Alamosa, Colo., when a newly arrived store manager, Al Lohman, recognized his lifemate and eventually talked her into marriage.

After transfers to many cities throughout the West, Neva and Al, with their three children, made Ashland, Ore., their home in 1950. With John and Libby Yaple, they owned and ran Parkview Department Store for 25 years with indispensable help from a faithful staff, many of whom became lifelong friends.

Four years after Al's death in 1987, Neva married Wayne Heard. By the time Wayne passed away in 2000, his brother and sister-in-law and his children and grandchildren had become an important part of Neva's life.

Neva was inordinately proud of her children and grandchildren, leading them to want to be worthy of her confidence in them. Her strong political views played a large part in her children's interest in public and community service. Not only her compassion, love and humor, but also her strong values, self-discipline and self-sufficiency were magnets and models for friends as well as family.

Neva leaves behind daughter, Diane (Bob) Levison, of San Luis Obispo, Calif.; son Denis (Ellen) Lohman, of Devon, Pa.; son, David (Tami) Lohman, of Medford, Ore.; like-a-son, Bob Ludwig; stepdaughter, Marlene (Val) Blanding; stepson, Buzz (Lindsay) Heard; stepson, Fred (Jeanne) Heard; grandchildren, Ali, Adam, Dave (Jennifer), and Debra Lohman, Jenny (Erik) Ernstrom, Scott (Sarah) Levison, Eric (Staci) Levison, Kristi (Greg) Schoenfield, Rick, Jeff and Brian Blanding, and Becca, Nate, Bonnie, David (Pam) and Stacey Heard; 25 great-grandchildren; and seven great great-grandchildren.

A celebration of Neva's life will be held Saturday, February 25, 2:00 p.m., at Litwiller-Simonsen Funeral Home, 1811 Ashland Street. In lieu of flowers, Neva's family suggests a contribution to Ashland Home Hospice and Palliative Care Services, 1970 Ashland Street, Suite 1, Ashland, OR 97520.