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September 22, 2012

Ermal Virginia Chapman

Born the fourth of six children to Charles W. and Lillie Mae Sanders on the 4th of June 1928, in the small town of Okmulgee, Okla., Ermal spent her youth growing up on the family farm just north of Okmulgee, graduating from St. Anthony Catholic High School.

She was always a very     active and athletic person as a youth and young adult,   playing just about every sport available to girls (i.e.: softball, basketball, and, as a young woman, professional baseball). She met and married Robert F. Chapman, Jr. in Sept. of 1946, and soon afterwards Robert F. III came along, Thomas M., and after moving to Kansas City, Mo., for a time, Norman B. followed. After finally   moving back to Okmulgee, Ermal worked at several jobs.

Bob and Ermal were very instrumental in getting the Hissom School for the Mentally Retarded brought to Tulsa where the children in the eastern part of Okla., could reside, be educated and receive the special care  required. Robert F. III was one of the first residents in the Home.

Ermal was active in her church (Second Baptist Church), as well as the local Rebekah Lodge where she served as Noble Grand and Secretary. She rose to serve as State President of the Independent Order of ODD  Fellows Ladies Auxiliary Patriarchs Militant                Department of Oklahoma. She was also a founding Member of the Eagle Rebekah Lodge # 90 of Glencoe, Okla. Bob and Ermal were also very active in the Boy Scouts as Adult Leaders, raising two Eagle Scouts in the process.

In 1972, Bob and Ermal moved to Stillwater, Okla. where they went to work at Oklahoma State University. Ermal entered the Food Service Department where she excelled and rose to be a Senior Food Supervisor in the dorms, and then moving to the Student Union Food Marts where she worked for many years. Ermal had the distinction of being one of the last classified staff member to receive tenure. Eventually, she took over the position of Supervisor at the Dairy Barn Food Center where she worked until she suffered a massive stroke.

She was rushed to Oklahoma City for treatment where she was told that she would never get out of that bed, walk or talk again. But they didn’t know Ermal very well. She was transferred to the Jim Thorpe Rehab   Center where she not only, through her strong will and     constitution, worked her way out of bed, but she was able to operate an electric chair, to speak with a slur, and finally able to take a few steps with a walker, in less than a year’s time.

She moved from the family home on 9th Street to an assisted living apartment for seniors with her husband, Bob, who retired as a truck driver to help care for Ermal until his passing in 2009. Ermal moved into Grace Living Center until her passing on the evening of May 24, 2012.

During the years that Ermal lived and worked in Stillwater, before the stroke, she acquired a love for OSU to the point that it was lovingly said, “She bled orange and black.” She was one of the biggest athletic fans of OSU. Also during her time at OSU, she worked with and became lifelong friends with most of her co-workers and the students that worked for her. Ermal had a large family of “adopteds” all over the world and US who loved her like their OSU MOM.

Ermal was preceded in death by her parents, Charles W. and Lillie Sanders; siblings, Charles W. Jr., Emmet, Florence and Elsie; husband, Robert F. Jr.; son, Norman; and in-laws, Robert F. Sr. and Viola Chapman.

She is survived by her brother, Wayne Sanders, and Family of Hazelwood, Mo.; sons, Thomas M. and Robert F. III of Tulsa; grandson, Robert F. Chapman IV of OKC; nieces, Patty Aldridge of Minn., Amie Rankin of Fla., Chris Sanders of Maryland, Dr. Omer “Butchncock” and family of Abilene, Texas, and several other nieces and nephews around the US.

The memorial service was officiated by Dr. Hancock in Stillwater on June 9, 2012. Mom was laid to rest alongside Dad in Stillwater’s Sunset Memorial Gardens.

Due to a miscommunication on MY part (Thomas) the advance notice of Mom’s service was not publicized properly, and many of Mom’s friends were unaware of it and missed being able to pay their respects. To these people I can only offer this Memorial and Apology.

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