Dorothy Bircher (Skala)
Dorothy Ann Bircher, 96, died on Sunday, October 13, at home where she lived with her daughter. Through Mary Jane’s excellent care, we had Mom on Earth for many extra years!
Dorothy was born March 29, 1923, in Middlebranch, Ohio to the late Fred and Caroline Bircher. After graduating from St. John's high school, Dorothy worked at Richman Brothers Co. in Cleveland before marrying John J. Skala on May 1, 1943. By the time she started her college career at Kent State University in 1955, Dorothy had eight children. Eighteen years and five more children later, she graduated from KSU in 1973 with a degree in early childhood education. She taught kindergarten at St. James School in Waynesburg before accepting the position of director at the newly formed Calvary Presbyterian Daycare Center in Canton where she also taught kindergarten and preschool classes. During these years Dorothy continued attending KSU and earned her Master's degree. She was surprised and excited to receive this diploma during a special presentation honoring her achievements at the KSU commencement ceremonies in the spring of 1979. Dorothy loved learning and continued taking classes at Kent State and Malone University for many more years. Eventually Dorothy retired from the classroom, but missed being around children and took a job as director of the latchkey program at St. Peter's Catholic School in Canton. It wasn't long before she became a licensed foster parent caring for many children in her home for many years, a role she thoroughly enjoyed. Dorothy's calling in life was raising, educating, caring for, mentoring, and simply loving children. She was thrilled when each grandchild and great grandchild was born, knitting, crocheting, or quilting each one a special blanket. She also knitted many blankets for the Linus Project. Dorothy was an avid gardener all her life growing both vegetables and flowers. She baked delicious cookies and cakes from scratch. She always made room at the dinner table for one more. Dorothy was always reading books either to kids or to herself. She loved music, played the piano, and sang with the Sweet Adelines City of Flags Chorus in Canton for many years. Dorothy kept physically and mentally sharp. At age 90 she would walk a mile a few times a week to work out at the gym. Until age 91 she spent a week each summer salmon fishing with her son in Alaska. She was delighted to receive a computer as a gift from her children on her 80th birthday and used it to write her memoirs which were later published. Dorothy made sure to personally sign a copy for each of her children, grandchildren, and for many friends. Dorothy lived most of her life in Canton and attended St. Mary's, St. John the Baptist, and St.Peter's Catholic Churches. She moved to Akron about 16 years ago and was a member of St. Sebastian Catholic Church. She also attended Unity Chapel of Light in Tallmadge with her daughter. When asked what to write in her obituary, Dorothy replied that the most important thing was to name all of her children and grandchildren.
Predeceased by her son, David F. Skala, killed in Vietnam in 1970, her son, John J. Skala (Jack), III, in 2016, and her grandson, Jeremy Skala, in 1974.
Dorothy leaves eleven children. James (Galena) Skala of AL, Dr. Timothy (Terry) Skala of AZ, Richard Skala (Deb Sumption) of Hilliard, Paulie (Larry) Basford of Gahanna, Caroline Skala of HI, Mary Jane Miller of Akron, Thomas Skala of Canton, Benedict (Linda) Skala of Canton, Anina Marie Skala of CA, Theresa Skala of CA, and Matthew Skala of Canton. She leaves 25 grandchildren, April, Adrienne, Andrea, Tabitha, Gillian, Samantha, John, Robert, Jason, Suzette, Alicia, Eric, Elizabeth, Jessica, David, Larry, Brandy, Angela, Adam, Keyon, Michelle, Amy, Lillian, Anthony, and Diego. Dorothy also has 27 great grandchildren. Preceded in death by 4 sisters and 3 brothers, Dorothy is survived by her sisters Beverly Ritter of TX and Shirley Bircher of CA, daughter-in-law Brigid Skala of MA, many nieces and nephews, close friend Pat Marks, and a multitude of friends.
Dorothy never knew a stranger. Her huge smile accepted and welcomed everyone. She was kind and generous, a spiritual woman of deep and abiding faith, and loved by many.
A celebration of Dorothy’s life will take place on Saturday, November 16. A Funeral Mass at St. Sebastian Catholic Church in Akron will be held at 11:00 a.m. Dorothy requested that her ashes be buried in her beloved father's grave at Werner United Methodist Church cemetery in Canton. Following interment friends and family are invited to meet for a light lunch at Unity Chapel of Light in Tallmadge. Bring your stories about Mom/Grandma to share! Services in care of The Billow Funeral Homes & Crematory, 85 N. Miller Road, Akron, OH 44333
To send flowers to Dorothy's family, please visit our floral section.