STEVENSVILLE – Nola Pauline (Smail) Edgar passed away peacefully Nov. 22, 2014, in the shadow of the Bitterroot Mountains and surrounded by her children. Nola was born Dec. 21, 1936, to Mary and Norris Smail in a log cabin near Stillwell (Holmes County), Ohio, the second of four girls. She was a roly-poly towheaded baby who, according to her family, resembled a “Kewpie” doll. Mary taught Nola to walk by holding her up by the straps of her overalls; when Nola started toddling on her own, she held up her own overall straps.
Nola grew up on various farms in Holmes and Knox counties, and worked on friends’ farms in the summers. A stellar student, Nola was also blessed with a sweet singing voice and, overcoming shyness, starred in a school production of “HMS Pinafore.” She graduated from Danville (Ohio) High School in 1954, ranked third in her class, and delivered a commencement speech that terrified her to the point she later had no memory of giving the speech.
While home from Kent State University on Christmas break, Nola caught the eye of Bob “Mickey” Edgar, an outgoing and personable fellow who was home from Syracuse University. Bob courted Nola by presenting an armful of long-stemmed red roses not to Nola, but to her mother. Nola suspected the roses were from Bob’s family’s funeral home, but his good nature won her over. When Bob graduated from Syracuse and Nola had her two-year teacher's credential, they married in 1956 at the Danville Church of Christ.
Nola taught third grade at Gambier that winter, and they lived in the Edgar log cabin on Tiger Valley Road near Danville. The next summer, they moved to Lawton, Oklahoma, where Bob, an ROTC graduate, served as an officer in the Army artillery. Their daughter Laura was born in October 1957. They moved back to Danville, where their son Bob Jr. was born in January 1959. Nola stayed home with the children and went back to work when “Bobby” went to kindergarten (and she was his teacher!). Nola again chose to stay home when Ellen was born in December 1965. Bob and Nola built their dream home on Edgar Road in 1969 and Nola started teaching second grade at Killbuck. She was instrumental in implementing the then-revolutionary “hands-on” approach to teaching math in the West Holmes district.
Bob brought out the adventuresome spirit in Nola, and starting in 1961 they spent many summers traveling “out West” to work in ranger stations in Montana and Idaho. Some summers were spent in Missoula so that Nola could attend the University of Montana, and she graduated in 1972. The family loved the mountains and often went hiking, camping and “fish-nicking.” Nola was an enthusiastic member of the Seed Sewers Garden Club in Danville, and she was also a gifted seamstress, sewing most of her family’s clothing (including Bob’s sport coats and ties). She was an expert wheat-weaver, and decorated a Christmas tree at the Smithsonian in 1989. Nola retired in 1991.
She and Bob built a cozy house at the foot of the Bitterroot Mountains near Victor. Bob died of cancer in 1994, and Nola settled full time in Montana, making many solo car trips between Montana and Ohio. The victim of a near-fatal car accident in 1997 that almost cost her the use of an arm and leg, Nola fought through horrible pain and was cross-country skiing again the next winter. She married fellow skier Doyle Gerrard in 2001, and although the marriage was brief they enjoyed many pleasant outings. Nola moved to Stevensville and stayed incredibly active, splitting her time among grandchildren, Quilt Guild, Gem and Mineral Club outings, travel and lunch at the Stevi Senior Center. She was a remarkable, independent and caring woman. She had just returned from a trip to Ohio when she was diagnosed with cancer, and after a three-week battle she died while in hospice care at Marcus Daly Hospital in Hamilton.
Nola cherished reading to her grandchildren, rock hounding, exploring new country, quilting (especially making Quilts for Kids and meeting with her Tuesday quilt group), sunsets, clouds, sunsets with clouds, her recipe for Norwegian Bar cookies (acquired from a U.S. Forest Service camp cook) and her view of St. Mary Peak.
Nola is survived by her children and their spouses, Laura (Mark) Nonnenmacher of Spokane, Bob (Cammie) Edgar of Stevensville and Ellen (Matt) Verbsky of Bellefontaine, Ohio; grandchildren, Paul (Heidi) Nonnenmacher of Missoula, Andrew Nonnenmacher of Eugene, Oregon, Adam, Marshall and Emma Verbsky of Bellefontaine, and Mitch Edgar of Stevensville; her sisters, Linda O’Donnell and Kathy Reynolds; sister-in-law, Elaine (Jerry) Young; and 10 loving nephews and nieces. Leaving this world before Nola were her sister, Esther Hardin; and husband, Bob Edgar.
Memorial donations may be made to Doctors Without Borders, the American Cancer Society or a charity of your choice. Nola’s ashes will be committed at Union Grove Church of Christ in Ohio, next to her parents’ grave. Services in Ohio and Montana are pending. If you would like to be notified of services, please visit caringbridge.org/visit/nolaedgar and sign up for notifications. Arrangements are by Whitesitt Funeral Home in Stevensville. Condolences and memories may be shared with the family at whitesittfuneralhome.com.