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Cathleen Repp's 'faith never wavered'

September 09, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

Editor's note: Each Sunday, The Herald-Mail publishes "A Life Remembered." This continuing series takes a look back - through the eyes of family, friends, co-workers and others - at a member of the community who died recently. Today's "A Life Remembered" is about Cathleen Phyllis Repp, who died Sept. 1 at the age of 74. Her obituary appeared in the Sept. 4 editions of The Morning Herald and The Daily Mail.

Two days before her mother died, Patricia Hawbaker heard her talking to someone ... someone Patricia couldn't see.

"I discovered Mom was talking to Jesus - she was telling him she was ready to come home," Patricia said. "Her faith never wavered, you see."

Cathleen Swope Repp recently had returned from a nursing home stay related to back problems. The family had high hopes she would get better, but Cathleen died Sept. 1 at the age of 74.

"Her passing was so peaceful ... she was holding dad's hand," Patricia said.

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Gene Repp, Cathleen's husband of 56 years, said he met her at church - she was 17 and teaching a Sunday school class.

Early in their relationship, Cathleen's strong religious beliefs helped Gene kick one of his bad habits.

"She got me out of smoking when I was 20," Gene said.

Pointing to a picture of himself with Cathleen before they were married, Gene noticed he was holding a cigarette in his hand ... but not for much longer.

"Church was always first in her life," Gene said.

A strict Pentecostal, Cathleen was a member of Faith Temple Church for 50 years and later, Mount Calvary Church of God in Clear Spring.

The couple had two daughters - Patricia and Cheryl - early in their marriage. The two boys - Clayton and Jason - came along many years later.

"Mom and I were pregnant at the same time," Cheryl Brunello said. Cathleen had Jason, her youngest, at about the same time Cheryl gave birth to her son, Michael.

Cheryl's strongest memory of her mother was how much she cared for her own children as well as other people's children.

"When I was 6 or 7, we picked a needy family and Mom had us pick out a toy - something nice for a child," Cheryl said, recalling she picked a bride doll that almost was as tall as she was.

Her mother washed all of the doll's clothes before they gave it to the family, Cheryl said.

For a while, Cathleen worked at the Anita Lynne Home for children with developmental disabilities. Cathleen later retired from L'Aiglon, where she made clothes.

"Mom only had an eighth-grade education because she had to go to work," Patricia said. But her mother was proud of the fact that she worked hard and was head of shipping when she retired.

Patricia said the family always sat in the third pew from the front at Faith Temple Church. She echoed her father's sentiment that God came first with her mother, but housework was important, too.

"We never got to see the Saturday cartoons or 'The Wizard of Oz' when they were on television until the housework was done," Patricia said.

Cheryl and Patricia agreed that it was as if their parents had two families - first the two girls, then the two boys.

"I have no bad memories ... none," said Clayton, the older of the two sons. "I am who I am because of her."

Clayton said his biggest regret is that his 2 1/2-year-old daughter won't get to grow up knowing her grandmother.

"I always loved that she was so supportive and proud of what I accomplished," Clayton said.

Clayton's wife, Crista, said Cathleen never referred to her as a daughter-in-law. She always was treated like a daughter, and "I admired that about her," she said.

Youngest son Jason said he grew up in the church and in the kitchen - his mother's kitchen.

"She'd spend the whole week at church cooking during convention," he said.

But she still found the time to chaperone Jason's school events and trips, he said.

Patricia said their mother did a lot of volunteering at the old Clear Spring Elementary School.

At the funeral service, granddaughter Jody Hawbaker read a tribute to her "grandmommy."

Jody thanked her for her heritage of love for Jesus, which she said is reflected in all four of her children, as well as in her faithfulness to her husband through all of their years together.

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