Jewell Cardwell

Several readers wanted to see just how well 106-year-old Ray Neill has held up over the years, chiding me for featuring photos of women who have turned 100 or more but not men.

They had a point, given that not many men reach that milestone age and are still as active as he is.

Peggy Koehl Bandy was kind enough to share more about the still-handsome Mr. Neill, while others sent his photo.

“On Sunday, March 16, Goss Memorial Church held a birthday party honoring Mr. Raymond Neill for his 106th birthday,” Bandy wrote. “Ray was born on March 13, 1908. He is the oldest living graduate of Kenmore High School, the Class of 1926.

“He worked at the B.F. Goodrich Company. He and his late wife, Rhea, were married 57 years before her death in 1987. Two children — Robert Neill and Janet Neill Holvey — were born from that union. Rounding out the family unit are three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.”

When asked what has contributed to his longevity, Ray says, “Exercise, no smoking, no drinking and living a clean life.”

“Even at this time, he regularly exercises by walking several times a day and going up and down stairs several times a day,” Bandy wrote. “One can see this from his tall, thin stature. What a blessing it has been to the congregation of Goss to know such a man. Thanking God for a life well lived.”

And there’s this from fellow congregant Mary Lou Cooper:

“On behalf of the congregation of Goss Memorial Church, thank you so much for your kind article about our Ray Neill. His luncheon was a real success with 65 of his friends and relatives attending.

“His family had intended to tell him about the celebration Saturday (the day before). But, so typical of Ray, and unknown to them, he never misses reading your column. Instead of the family telling Ray … he told them.”

Reception for Ella Dix

Akron’s Ella Dix won’t be marking her 103rd birthday alone. Her church family at Phillips Chapel Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Goodyear Heights, where she has been active in so many areas, is taking care of that.

The former Ella Jones was born April 1, 1911, in Rutherford, Ala., a town that no longer exists. She moved to Akron in 1928 and married Ellis Dix in 1934; they were married 60 years until his death in 1994.

Mrs. Dix worked during the Depression at Akron City Hospital in housekeeping, later working in private homes until she retired in 1972. She was an active member of the Goodyear Heights Ceramics Club and the Carnation Garden Club of Akron, winning awards along the way. She sold her famous strawberry tarts to raise money for Stan Hywet, and volunteered at the Akron Community Service Center and Urban League.

Longtime friend and fellow church member Eunice Craig said of this amazing dynamo: “Mrs. Dix was quite a seamstress. She founded the sewing and tailoring classes at the church to teach young women how to sew and tailor clothing. The program lasted for over 20 years.”

Mrs. Dix also established her church’s food pantry, which has been in existence for 26 years. “She is the founding member and president of the church’s Mothers Board (now named after her),” Craig noted. “Mother Dix received the honor of President Emeritus, having served as the president of the church Stewardess Board for many years. She also served as chaplain.”

Although she and her husband didn’t have any children, they acted as parents to many over the years.

Many will be on hand at this Sunday’s 11 a.m. worship service to honor her and a reception from 1 to 3 p.m.

Celebrations reminder

Given the sheer volume of folks reaching the milestone ages of 100 or beyond, I can’t possibly recognize each one with a special story. The same is true of couples married 65 years and beyond.

So, if you’re interested in saluting a centenarian or a couple celebrating 65 or more years of wedded bliss, please email celebrations@thebeaconjournal.com or call 330-996-3360.

Bowling for charity

The Hospital Heroes, a team of Rape Crisis hospital advocates, will raise funds for Walk a Mile to benefit the Rape Crisis Center of Summit and Medina counties.

They are sponsoring a bowling event from 8 to 10 p.m. Friday at the Fast Lane, 193 Wooster Road N., Barberton. The $10 fee includes shoe rental with 50 percent going to the Hospital Heroes.

Questions? Please contact founder and team captain Alexandra Potter at 330-315-5255 or alexandrap@scmsnwas.org.

Online play to raise funds

Akron native, playwright and author Stephanie Singleton is dedicating a portion of the proceeds from her play, Single.ology 101, which will be broadcast live online at 9 p.m. April 5 from the Acme Theater in Hollywood, Calif., to the Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina counties.

“The online comedy stage play is about six close friends who struggle with faith, hope and love,” Singleton said.

The donations to Battered Women’s Shelter will support its Fill a Suitcase campaign, which provides food, shelter and clothing to survivors of domestic violence.

To watch this live production or for information about Fill a Suitcase, please visit www.Singleology101.webs.com or call 774-260-5683.

Fleece blankets for kids

Volunteer extraordinaire Janet Shively and her fellow volunteers are busy putting together colorful fleece blankets for children — those with terminal illnesses, those deemed to be in harm’s way by law enforcement personnel, and those with a parent or parents in the military.

Shively and her fellow volunteers are seeking “plain Blizzard fleece in certain colors and sizes to match up with fronts we already have. It’s on sale at JoAnn’s for half price until April 5,” Shively said.

Interested in donating or sending a card for JoAnn’s Fabric Stores? Please contact her at janetshively@sbcglobal.net.

Jewell Cardwell can be reached at 330-996-3567 or jcardwell@thebeaconjournal.com.