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 Sappah, Madeline (Bryner)
Died: 08/01/2015
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Sappah, Madeline (Bryner)

Madeline Sappah (maiden name Bryner), aged 95, died peacefully last week in her home in Fort Myers Beach, Florida. Originally a native of Erie, PA, Madeline, had had a home on Fort Myers Beach for over 40 years and was in love with Florida. It was shells in particular, that caught her fancy. Many a wet and rainy morning after a storm she would get up before dawn and scour the beaches of Sanibel and Estero Island, looking for treasures that the stormy weather had turned up from the bottom of the sea.

           It had been many years since she could go shelling herself, but her home was still full of shelves that she had collected over the years. Fortunately, she passed on her love of the beach and its beauty to her many great-grandchildren, who would bring their own finds back home to their GG (great-grandma) for her to inspect and identify. Even after she became primarily homebound, she still kept a shell identification book next to the easy chair in the living room, where she spent most of her time. Some days, she would pick up a few shells from a nearby shelf, and look them over and review her shell books. Some of her favorite times in the last few years, were taking trips to the nearby state park, where she could ride in a beach wheelchair and be close to the sea, the sand and the surf. Her daughter, Greta, would fill Madeline's lap with what shells were there, and Madeline would inspect them as she enjoyed the feel of the sunshine and the freshness of the ocean air.


Madeline had served in the WAC's (Women's Army Corps) during WW2, and it was a part of her life of which she was very proud. Up until this year, she still took part in a monthly meeting of local female veterans and was the chapter's chaplain. It was during her time in the army that she was to marry the love of her life, George Sappah. George was also serving in the war as a Seabees and they spent their first years of married life in the service. Once the war ended, they made their home in Park Ridge, NJ and would spent the majority of their life together as Jersey residents, living later in Montvale and then moving to Blairstown, when George bought the Blairstown airport around 1956. Madeline became known far and wide for her apple pie while she ran the Airport Cafe. When George died unexpectedly in 1992, Madeline decided to make their Florida winter home her full time residence. Her 90th birthday which was a big celebratory affair, was held at the Airport Cafe.


During her time as a Blairstown resident, Madeline also became very involved in The Walnut Valley Methodist Church. Raised Methodist she grew up on camp meetings and revivals. As an adult, she devoted herself to church work and giving to missions. Many people will still remember her German potato salad, delicious home baked bread, and zalabieh (Syrian fried dough) which she made for many years for the Walnut Valley Festival. She also volunteered at the cafe at the Newton Hospital. Her volunteer work continued as a Florida resident where she was very involved in the Beach Methodist Church and volunteered at ECHO, a charity in North Fort Myers which works to help people around the world overcome hunger through agricultural solutions.


Madeline's life was characterized by her love of her savior, Jesus Christ. As human as the rest of us, she was so grateful for God's love, although she considered herself unworthy. A great lover of hymns and singing, she looked forward to weekly Sunday morning services. During the last few months of her life, it was the psalms and her favorite hymns that were a great comfort to her.  The strong and steady presence of her daughter and primary caretaker, Greta, as well as her other devoted family members and friends who came to visit with her and help care for her, brought life and joy into her last days. Madeline retained a great deal of independence, even into her 90's. She could walk by herself with a walker and use her four wheeled electric scooter to get to nearby stores and restaurants. On May 16, 2015, Madeline celebrated her 95th birthday, but in the months since then she had experienced a quick decline.

          She was taken home to meet her savor on the morning of July 9, 2015. While her husband was still alive, they had made plans to both be cremated, and her wishes were honored. A small memorial service will be held for family sometime in the fall. She is survived by her three children, Guy Gilbert, George, and Greta; her 7 grand-children and 14 great-grandchildren.


          In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be sent in memoriam of Madeline to ECHO, 17391 Durance Road, North Fort Myers, FL 33917 or www.echonet.org  Local arrangements are under the direction of the Iliff-Ruggiero Funeral Home 156 Main St (Rt. 206) Newton, NJ. 
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I would like to extend my heartfelt condolences to the family for the loss of your loved one. May God almighty, father of tender mercies and all comfort continue to comfort you all (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4). How glad we are that God has promised to completely remove death, tears, mourning, outcry and pain (Revelation 21:4). Indeed we all eagerly anticipate the fulfillment of that promise. The Bible also provides assurance of a real hope of resurrection for our dead loved ones in the coming near future (John 5:25). May these promises from God bring you comfort. You can learn more about God's purposes for humans at www.jw.org
Zinne Suji
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