Angelina Jacobson Stitely, 78, of Pinehurst, passed away Friday, July 8, at First Health Hospice House with her family by her side after a long and courageously fought battle with cancer.
There is much to say about our Angel, and the outpouring of kind thoughts shortly after her passing all tell a similar story. She was a kind soul full of laughter and smiles, always willing to hear or tell a good story or joke, in a time when people actually sat around a table and talked. She met very few people she didn’t like, and to meet her once was to feel like you’d been friends with her forever. She was exceedingly generous – she never thought twice to help, or to make time for anyone who needed it. Suffice it to say, she was aptly named.
Angel was a creative artist who spent a lifetime knitting sweaters, afghans, baby blankets, Barbie doll clothes, socks, hats, and scarves for her family and friends. She spent late nights sewing matching Easter outfits for her girls, molding slippery taffeta into full-length prom dress, and transforming her wedding gown into a christening dress for her younger granddaughters. You cannot walk into any of our houses without seeing her handwork – they are filled with the myriad of items she made for us over the years, gifts we will cherish forever.
Angel fiercely loved her husband, Dick, her daughters Sandy and Susan, her sons-in-law, Bill and Brecht, and her grandkids, Madison and Nick and Morgan and Gabrielle. She was proud of all of them every day, fond of calling her daughters and grandkids ‘doll face’ and ‘chickie,’ and asking them ‘what’s your next trick?’ when they did something silly. She was always quick with a big hug, a laugh, and a patient ear.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland March 29, 1944, to Helen (Stoner) Jacobson and Michael Jacobson, Angel was the fourth of six children and the first daughter. Times were tough, and perhaps because of it, she developed an admirable resolve that followed her through her life and which she passed on to her daughters and grandchildren. She met every challenge with a positive attitude and determination and was fond of the old saying about making lemonade when life gives you lemons.
When Angel was 20 years old, she had the fortune of meeting Dick Stitely during a ride with her brother Tony. When Tony stopped for gas at the filling station where his friend was working, Dick was smart enough to not let such a beautiful woman pass him by. Angel, who despite always having been up for a good fixer-upper project, surely didn’t know what she was getting into. Nevertheless, she spent every bit of the next 57 years enduring Dick’s antics and dirty jokes, doing her best to shape him into the upstanding citizen he is today, and sadly leaving one of her only unfinished projects behind.
Angel and Dick spent the first years of their marriage in rented apartments in Randallstown, Laurel, and Riverdale, Maryland, before settling into a run-down, rumored-to-be-haunted cape cod on Scaggsville Road that she and her daughters dubbed ‘One-One-Two-Two Boogie-Boogie Avenue.” It was in as much country that could be had in the busy area between Washington and Baltimore, the first house she’d ever owned, and one she and Dick quickly turn into an eclectic, warm, comfortable home.
From that house, she raised two daughters, ran a home daycare where she taught a host of ‘adopted’ kids who dearly loved their ‘Miss Angel,’ tended to what her daughters believed was an unnecessarily large vegetable garden, canned its resulting bounty, and hosted a menagerie of holidays, family, friends, kids’ friends, boyfriends, future sons-in-law, ne’er-do-wells, some dogs, some cats, a duck, a rabbit, and the occasional spider and bat.
From that house, she encouraged her daughters to get dirty, go barefoot, play outside, and have great adventures whenever possible. She implored them not to climb too high up in the cedar tree next to the house, soothed bee stings, slathered Noxzema on sunburns, and healed bad cases of rashes earned from picking blackberries infested with poison ivy. She jumped rope with them, enjoyed weekend camping trips instigated by Dick, sat on the roof to watch fireworks (even though she very much disliked heights), and generally ‘went along for the ride.’
She kept a designated sewing room filled with fabric, yarn, and thread. She worked in a hopelessly outdated kitchen where she cooked poorly and baked wonderfully, always making sure there was a chocolate cake for Dick, and goodies for her kids. She spent winter mornings with a cup of coffee, made her daughters hot chocolate after hours in the snow, and patiently turned balls of yarn into something wonderful. She often spent summer afternoons on the porch with a glass of sweet tea talking with her daughters or husband about the trials and tribulations of the day. At the kitchen table she offered sage advice to her future sons-in-laws, laughed heartily when they played jokes on her, and shared stories whenever someone came to visit.
Angel and Dick said a fond farewell to the house in Scaggsville in 1996 to start the second half of their lives in Pinehurst, North Carolina and though Angel was sad to leave Maryland behind, she soon embraced her life in the Sandhills. She took up golf and supported Dick’s love for the game, learned the true meaning of ‘bless your heart,’ took quilting classes, and set about making as many friends as she could through ‘stitch and bitch’ groups, quilt guilds, and golf foursomes. She worked for Bella Filati Yarns in Southern Pines helping to mend or complete the craziest of knitting projects and sharing her extensive knowledge with newbies.
Both in Maryland and in North Carolina, Angel was an avid walker, fond of telling people she was walking her way back to her youth, as she often put a good three miles a day on her Reeboks, unless she was mad at Dick, in which case she may have tacked on a few more. Her daughters felt this was probably okay, as it most certainly kept her out of jail and off the 5 o’clock news.
Angel was extremely competitive. Woe to the unfortunate person who ended up beating her in a game of Scrabble, Sorry, or Candyland, or found a missing puzzle piece before her, as she was apt to send game pieces flying or even resort to cheating if she thought it necessary. Even her beloved grandchildren were not immune, though they just laughed at her antics and knew her ire would be short-lived so long as she was given the opportunity to play another round and end up ahead when the final wins and losses were tallied.
Angel was also an incredibly determined person. Telling her she couldn’t do something was an invitation to prove you wrong. Everything she knew about her handwork, she taught herself. She believed if you could read a book, you could learn how to do anything. She relished a challenge and was so proud of herself when she prevailed.
To Dick, Angel was his ‘mum,’ an audience for his jokes, a target for the potholders he tossed at her like frisbees (his contribution to cleaning up dinner each night), a dubious assistant for his house projects. She was a willing companion on spur-of-the-moment road trips, camping weekends, and other adventures. He always forgave her for inappropriately laughing at his occasional mishaps.
Bill Moore and Brecht London considered Angel the best possible example of a mother-in-law because she listened, didn’t judge (much), and had a knack for knowing when to intervene and when to stay out of things. She was grateful to them for being so good to her daughters, for raising great-grandkids, for being patient with her, and always making her laugh. They encouraged her to try new things and celebrated her accomplishments.
Angel loved her grandkids. She was ‘Grandmother’ to Madison and Nick, ‘Grandma’ to Morgan and Gabrielle. She taught the girls to knit and crochet, had ‘goodies’ ready for them whenever they came to visit, made them quilts, bought them candy, played games, and laughed at their goofiness.
Angel often said she didn’t have time for being sick and intended to live until she was at least 100. Even though she could not escape a cancer diagnosis, she met that challenge head-on with optimism, determination, and positivity.
Left to sort through her impressive collection of quilt fabric, knitting needles, yarn, and thread are her husband, Dick Stitely of Pinehurst, her daughters and sons-in-law, Sandy and Bill Moore of Hampstead, Maryland, and Susan and Brecht London of Wake Forest, North Carolina, and her grandchildren, Nick and Madison Moore and Morgan and Gabrielle London.
In addition to her immediate family, Angel is survived by her sisters, Dev Korman and Pat Griffith of Maryland, and her brothers Tony Jacobson of Arizona, and Tim Jacobson of Maryland.
The family thanks the staff at First Health Hospice for their tremendous compassion and grace, and the caregivers who helped her over the last several months. We are grateful for all their help.
We will miss Angel dearly.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations to First Health Hospice House of Pinehurst, North Carolina, or to the American Cancer Society.
A celebration of life will be planned at a later time.