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Waunita "Neet" Shupp

January 17, 2009|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 Waunita "Neet" Shupp, who died Jan. 8 at the age of 80. Her obituary was published in the Jan. 9 edition of The Herald-Mail.

In a scene reminiscent of "The Waltons," the four children of Waunita and John Summer Shupp said they used to holler good night to each other and their parents through the walls of their bedrooms.

The only thing missing was someone named John Boy in the mix, said Carol Oney, the couple's only daughter.

That memory came flooding back whenever Carol would notice her mother was watching the show, which always was one of her mother's favorites.

Known by family and friends as "Neet," Waunita died two weeks after Christmas -- a holiday she loved and vowed to hang on for despite her failing health.

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"Mom said she wanted to get home for Christmas and she did," said son Michael. There was a real tree and the traditional fried oysters.

The three surviving children were there, as well as assorted spouses, siblings, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Son Marvin died 11 years ago, and Neet's husband passed away in 1983.

Neet even was able to make her signature pumpkin pies, complete with her "secret" ingredient -- lemon juice.

Those pies were part of the inventory at the Shady Bower Market, which the Shupps owned. Even after the store closed, people would call and ask Neet to bake pies for them.

The eighth of nine children of James and Edith Mason, Neet was born and raised on a farm in Big Pool. As she worked in the fields, Neet met her future husband, who worked on his family's adjacent farm.

A short courtship led to their marriage in 1948.

"Dad worked in furniture manufacturing while mom was employed at Dorbee," Carol said.

In 1963, the Shupps bought the Shady Bower Market on U.S. 40. For the next 20 years, the entire family was involved in keeping the enterprise going.

"They had run a grocery store in Cearfoss before and they wanted to get back to that," Michael said.

Living in a mobile home next to the store, the family spent long hours there.

"I remember getting off the school bus and going to work in the store," Carol said.

Michael recalled making $5 per week as a boy, most of which he saved to spend at carnivals in nearby Clear Spring and elsewhere during the summer.

Carol said their father bought in bulk and the children often were put to work boxing things for individual sales. When John died in 1983, Neet continued to run the store for a while with her son, Marvin.

Working for the state of Maryland then, Michael only was able to help out in the evenings. Eventually, they gave up the store, which now is known as Valley Market.

"After that, mom was a homemaker, a bowler, a grandmother and a baby sitter," Michael said.

Carol moved to Princess Anne, Md., but always missed her home in Washington County.

"I worked, I slept and I cried," she said of the transition.

Daughter-in-law Sharon Shupp said Neet remained very close to her and her family after Marvin died 11 years ago.

"No one could ever fill her shoes with us," Sharon said.

Neet generously shared her recipes with family and friends. Sharon said Neet taught her to bake oysters and how to make a hearty pot of homemade potato soup.

Granddaughter Jill Shupp said her Nana was very special to her.

"She would always scratch my back ... her nails were just right for that," Jill said.

Great-granddaughter Tristen Lewis also called her Nana. She said she always will remember Nana's meatloaf, and macaroni and cheese.

As Neet's health began to fail, Michael and his wife, Carol, cared for her, both in their home and in Neet's home. For two months, Michael said his wife took time off work to spend as much time as possible with Neet.

"I was back and forth," Michael said, now retired from his job.

With the holidays behind them, the Shupp family members agreed Christmas 2008 always will be special for them.

"She went happy," Carol said.

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