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Homemaker specialized in applesauce

| Sunday, Jan. 27, 2013, 9:46 p.m.

Called a “domestic engineer” by her husband, Lois James paid the bills, made the meals and disciplined the children. She would not allow her husband to cuss in front of their children even when they were in their 50s.

“She was strict and had a lot of high expectations,” said daughter Karen Martin, 57, of Mt. Lebanon. “She always said she was very fortunate that with four children, she never had the police knocking at her door.

“We would have been dead before the police showed up,” she added with a laugh.

Lois James of Bethel Park died of Alzheimer's disease on Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, in Baptist Nursing Home in Castle Shannon. She was 86.

Her father, Elmer Etzel, was a butcher in Market Square and her mother, Marion Etzel, was a homemaker.

She was valedictorian of Brentwood High School in 1944 and graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 1948 with a degree in English and psychology. She shared a locker at Pitt with Louis E. James Jr. They were later married for 62 years before his death.

Mrs. James worked five years at the Koppers Corp., Downtown, before her children were born and she became a homemaker. She was a deaconess and Sunday School teacher in Hamilton Presbyterian Church. She specialized in making applesauce with a bushel of Lodi apples from Trax Farms.

“The refrigerator at our house in Bethel Park is always full of applesauce,” Martin said.

Mrs. James instilled the value of education in her children at an early age. Daughter Deb Hendrickson recalls knowing at 6 that she was going to college.

“When I went back to school for a second master's years later, my parents paid for one or two courses, not because I needed the money, but they were really thrilled I was going to school,” said Hendrickson, 58, of Cumberland, Md.

At 68, Mrs. James volunteered to help Martin take care of her adopted daughter, Clare, for five years.

“That just gave her new life,” Martin said.

Mrs. James was preceded in death by her husband and a brother, Elmer A. Etzel Jr.

Besides her two daughters, survivors include a son, Randall of Lake Zurich, Ill.; another daughter, Nancy J. Chlebowski of South Bend, Ind.; sisters Betty Wood of Bethel Park and Nancy Guild of State College; four grandchildren; and two step-grandchildren.

Visitation will be from 4 to 7 p.m. Monday in Laughlin Memorial Chapel, 222 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon. Interment in the family plot at Smithfield-East End Cemetery will be private.

The family asks that memorials be in the form of donations to Baptist Nursing Home, 489 Castle Shannon Blvd., Pittsburgh, PA 15234; Bethel Park Library, 5100 W. Library Ave., Bethel Park, PA 15102; or to Hamilton Presbyterian Church, 4500 Hamilton Road, Pittsburgh, PA 15236

Bill Zlatos is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.He can be reached at 412-320-7828or bzlatos@tribweb.com.

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