Saturday, October 28, 2006
Aunt Yvonne, 1932-2006
From the St. Petersburg Times/Brandon Times:
She wouldn't let a debilitating illness ruin her life
Yvonne Pepper, who died Oct. 17, lived more than 20 years with multiple sclerosis .
By MARTY CLEAR
Published October 27, 2006
In many ways, Yvonne Pepper lived the ordinary life of a housewife and mother. Her ability to inspire others was anything but ordinary.
For more than 20 years, Mrs. Pepper, who died Oct. 17 at age 74, lived with a progressive form of multiple sclerosis.
The condition changed her life and made some of her former activities difficult or impossible, but it never affected her spirit.
"She had some hard times at first right after we got the diagnosis, but as time went on, she just lived her life," said her husband, Richard Pepper of Brandon. "She was definitely an inspiration to her friends and her neighbors, and to her family."
Mrs. Pepper was born in Memphis, Tenn., but moved to Miami with her family when she was about 5 years old.
She was just a sophomore at Miami High School when she met the love of her life, the man who would become her husband of 55 years.
"We had fraternities and sororities in high schools in those days," Richard Pepper said.
"She was in a sorority, and I was in a fraternity. We met after a meeting one night. We just saw each other and that was it."
They married two years later. They celebrated their 55th anniversary shortly before her death.
The Peppers and their children came to Brandon in 1962, when Richard Pepper took a job as a tugboat captain.
In the 1980s, Mrs. Pepper started noticing some numbness and some vision problems.
The Peppers went from doctor to doctor trying to find out what was wrong. They finally got an accurate diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. "Every case of MS is different," Richard Pepper said. "Hers was progressive, but she was lucky compared to some people. She was always able to walk, with a walker, right up until the time she died."
She eventually had to stop doing housework, but she was never the kind of person who would just sit back and let life pass by. She stayed active at Holy Innocents Episcopal Church and was an avid reader, especially of religious books. Her husband said her faith helped her deal with her debilitating condition.
She also remained a devoted mother and grandmother. She loved the Atlanta Braves and her beagle, Chico.
Besides her husband, Mrs. Pepper is survived by four children, Dianne Pepper, Karen Resciniti, Donna Pepper and Jay Pepper, and four grandchildren.