Jeanne D. Tyler, 1924-2019

YOUNGSTOWN — Jeanne D. Tyler passed away peacefully in her sleep just after midnight Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2019, at Ohio Living, Park Vista in Youngstown, just 11 days after her 95th birthday.

Jeanne Marie Deibel was born on Aug. 23, 1924, at home in Lakewood, to Cyril Paul and Marion Thomas Deibel. “Cy” Deibel was then president of what soon became General Dry Batteries Inc. in Cleveland, which grew over the years to become the principal forerunner of the Duracell battery enterprise of today.

Jeanne attended Lakewood public schools through the ninth grade before attending Laurel School for Girls in Shaker Heights, graduating with the Class of 1942. That fall she entered the University of Michigan in its Class of 1946. In January 1945, her father died rather suddenly of pancreatic cancer, and Jeanne left school for a year to help and comfort her mother. She then returned to the “U of M” and graduated in June 1947 with a degree in economics. In the fall of that year, she married John F. Tyler following his graduation from the University of Virginia Law School. John was also from Lakewood and had graduated from Dartmouth College prior to being commissioned in the U.S. Naval Reserve. He served out the war in the Pacific Theater on an LST, an amphibious landing ship. John became secretary, in-house council and a director of the American Welding and Manufacturing Co. in Warren. John Tyler died in 1987.

Jeanne has three roots in the Mahoning Valley. She was a direct descendant of Revolutionary War veteran John Struthers, who, following the war, homesteaded on land now within the town of Struthers, itself named for him. This root was from her maternal grandmother, Helen Struthers Thomas. Helen’s husband, Charles S. Thomas, was born in Coatbridge, Scotland. He, after 30 years in the Mahoning Valley Steel industry, built, in 1916, the Deforest Sheet & Tinplate mill at Niles. In 1921, he sold this mill to the Republic Steel Corp. as he retired. Jeanne’s grandfather, Charles Deibel, owned several successful Youngstown enterprises. He is best remembered for owning and managing Idora (amusement) Park for many years. His father Peter Deibel, a German-trained butcher, came to Youngstown in the late 1850s and built and operated what became Youngstown’s leading meat market.

Following her marriage to John Tyler, Jeanne devoted herself to an absolutely extraordinary “career” in volunteer community service. She attributes this effort to her father who stressed the importance of giving back to the community.

Aside from the time and effort she thus expended, her record of organizational leadership is particularly noteworthy. She was especially active in the Junior League, serving four years on their National Board — two years as a regional director and two years as the National Secretary. She was then elected an honorary member of the League. She was active with the Youngstown Area Community Chest (United Way), serving as Metropolitan Division chair in 1961. She was on the board of Planned Parenthood Association of Youngstown for many years, serving as president or treasurer for six years. She was a longtime board member and one-time president of both the Visiting Nurses Association and the Paisley House for Women. She served the Youngstown Hospital Association, and its successor, for years including a term as president of its Women’s Board. She also served as a trustee of the Western Reserve Care System, and in 2002, she was honored as its “Outstanding Trustee.” She was also a trustee of the Forum Health organization. In 2003, she served as Honorary Chairwoman of the Red and White Ball sponsored by the Mahoning Chapter of the American Red Cross.

Jeanne was a longtime board member of the Mahoning Valley Historical Society for which she served a total of 12 years as president. She was a board member of the Stambaugh Auditorium during its period of extensive restoration from 2014 to 2016, which followed a long period of neglect — thus furthering the cause of historic preservation. She served on the boards of the Hine Foundation, Ruth Beecher Foundation and Friends of Fellows of Riverside Gardens. At various times she served as president of the Garden Club of Youngstown, the Tourist Club, the Monday Book Review Club and the Women’s Golf Association of the Youngstown Country Club. With her interest in economics, she helped organize the Cardinal Investors Club — the first local women’s investment group. Jeanne supported organizations that looked after animals, especially the Animal Welfare League of Trumbull County with its rescue center and Pupp Pupp Play Park. “Always have room for ‘throw-aways,'” was her motto.

Among her many awards, Jeanne was the recipient of Planned Parenthood’s Kathryn Challis Pollock Award; the Trumbull County Animal Charity League award; the Woman of Valor Award for the YWCA; and she twice received a key to the city of Youngstown. In 2012, Jeanne was presented with a Valley Legacy Award, Class of 2011, by Shepherd of the Valley. In May 2013, she was named “2013 Friend of the University” by Youngstown State University, and she received the 2015 Mahoning Valley Historical Society Director’s Award of Achievement — part of the MVHS’s Historic Preservation Awards Program. In 2017, she received the Pioneer Award from the William Holmes McGuffey Historical Society. Also in 2017 the members of the Ohio State Senate honored Jeanne for “Remarkable Attainment” in a “lifetime of public service” ending with (we) “salute you as one of Ohio’s finest citizens.”

In 2011, Jeanne donated the lead gift for the planned Mahoning Valley History Center to be located on West Federal Street in the historic Harry Burt / Ross Radio building. As a result the MVHS named the history center after Jeanne. Remodeling was completed in 2015 for the now-named Tyler Mahoning Valley History Center.

Jeanne served as honorary chair of the Stambaugh Auditorium Capital Campaign formed in 2013 to raise funds for major restoration of the deteriorating building. The following year Jeanne donated a sizable gift to the capital campaign. This contribution prompted the Auditorium to name the restored Grand Ballroom “The Jeanne D. Tyler Grand Ballroom” at its dedication in October 2015.

On Aug. 9, 2019, just 15 days before her 95th birthday, Jeanne was honored with “The Patron of the Arts Award” at a Celebration of the Arts Summer Soiree presented jointly by the Mahoning Valley Historical Society and the Youngstown Symphony Society.

In spite of this memorable civic life, Jeanne traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad with her husband and later after his death. She also maintained an active social life entertaining regularly with John before and after his death. In this vein she singly, or with her husband, maintained memberships in the Youngstown Club, Youngstown Country Club, Trumbull Country Club of Warren, Farmington Country Club of Charlottesville, Va, and Ocean Club of Ocean Ridge, Fla. Her “free time” was filled with bridge, golf, tennis, skeet shooting and reading — by choice she had no children and did not consider herself a homemaker. Jeanne Tyler was an adamant supporter of “prochoice” and women’s rights in general. Like her husband, she was an atheist.

Jeanne Tyler is survived by her brother, William Thomas Deibel and his wife Karel as well as her nieces, Marjory Deibel Earle (Kelly) and Alison Deibel Lamb (Jerry) all of Seattle, Wash. Jeanne was also close with her cousin once-removed, Alison Deibel Masters of Concord Township, Ohio.

Memorial contributions may be made in memory of Jeanne to The Mahoning Valley Historical Society, 648 Wick Ave., Youngstown, Ohio 44502 or The Stambaugh Auditorium, 1000 Fifth Ave.,Youngstown, Ohio 44504.

Funeral arrangements are entrusted to the care of Stewart-Kyle Funeral Home, 407 W. Liberty St., Hubbard, Ohio. Family and friends are invited to visit the funeral home’s website at www.stewart-kyle.com to share memories and condolences.

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