Obituaries » Joan M. Jaeger

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Joan M. Jaeger

April 10, 1931 - December 15, 2021

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Joan M. Jaeger, 90, of Lynchburg, VA, died Wednesday, December 15, 2021. She was the wife of the late Dr. Raymond A. Jaeger, DVM.

Joan was born Friday, April 10, 1931, in Bridgeville, PA a daughter of the late Ralph Samuel Cellone and Teresa Osella Cellone.

Joan “Oma” is survived by her children, Greg Jaeger (Maria) of Lynchburg, Robin Jaeger (Cindy) of Lynchburg, and Ivajoan “Tobi” Jaeger (Eric Spain) of Lynchburg; granddaughters, Melanie Jaeger of Lynchburg, Joan F Jaeger of Lynchburg, Stephanie Meadows (Chris) of Forest; grandsons, Christopher Jaeger (Colleen) of Lynchburg, Drew Jaeger (Morgan) of Forest, Devin Jaeger (Sara) of Orange VA, Dillon Jaeger of Lynchburg, Brandon Ryan (Karen) of Lynchburg; great grandchildren, Genevieve, Phoenix, Garland, Mason, Penny Ryan, Alex, Isabelle, Lincoln, Aurora and one on the way; special niece, Tana Bowen of Imperial, PA; and her special companion, Phonsi, her German Shepherd.

In addition to her husband and parents, she was preceded in death by her brothers, Ernie and Ronnie Cellone and her sister, Gloria Lageman.

What do you say about a woman who has been described as the quintessential example of grace, poise, manners and southern hospitality, who wasn’t even from the South? Joan never really took time for herself to take up hobbies or golf, etc. as her primary focus was always the love of her family. She made every house she lived in a home. She was well known as Oma, not just by her grandchildren, but by all who she welcomed into her home as the term family was not reserved for blood relatives. She would host family dinners for every holiday and birthday and to this day, the family, which is now almost 30 members strong, still gathers together. Whether it was in the home in Blue Ridge Farms, on Link Road or her final home back on Hunterland Farm, Oma encouraged the family to get together to carry on family confectionery and culinary traditions. Family and friends gathered frequently throughout the year to hand roll out the delicate torchetti cookie dough or man the pasta press or meat grinder to make the traditional Sicilian ravioli (cooked in a chicken broth and then served with fresh grated cheeses) for the New Year’s Day family gathering. Oma loved to do things for family and friends, whether picking up her great granddaughter from school every day or making her famous cheesecakes for a friend’s wedding reception, doing for others gave her strength and purpose.

She was born in 1931 to two Italian immigrants and lived above their bread bakery in Bridgeville, PA getting up at 4 o’clock in the morning to help out before going to school. She met her husband Raymond there while he was working temporarily for his brother-in-law at the car dealership next door to the bakery. Raymond, born in 1928, was the son of a German chemist that got asylum during the war to come to the USA to work for American Cyanamid.

After their first son was born, the couple moved to Lynchburg in 1952 to a dairy farm off of Walnut Hollow in Boonsboro that they named Hunterland Farm. While there, they had two more children, raised cows and bred and trained German shepherds. Joan worked at a grocery store in town to supplement their income while Raymond went to Lynchburg College to complete some courses he would need for Veterinary school.

They moved to Athens, GA where Raymond got his Veterinarian degree at University of Georgia. While in Athens, Joan got a job working on a government sponsored project at the University called Civil Defense Research. The project studied the psychological effects of individuals trying to survive in fallout shelters. The studies, in which Joan’s family participated, simulated fallout shelters conditions for groups as small as 5-6 and as large as several hundred. She was the executive secretary for the lead psychiatrist on the project and was instrumental in editing and publishing his thesis for the government study.

After moving back to Lynchburg, they opened up their animal hospital (Forest Hill Animal Hospital) on Old Forest Road along with a grooming parlor know as Sweet Zoo which included a specialty pet supply retail shop. In the beginning, Joan ran the animal hospital operation, Raymond saw the patients and the children helped out the front desk, helped with surgery and cleaned cages and runs. Doctor Jaeger was widely known for his way with animals. As the hospital grew, it took over the grooming and the retail space and Joan moved her signature name of Sweet Zoo to Lakeside Dr (Route 221) where the new shop specialized in gourmet chocolates, candies, children’s toys, gifts and the then ever so poplar Beanie Babies, Department 56 and other collectibles.

Raymond passed away too young in 1994 and Joan gave up the shop not too many years later.

However, upon retirement she didn’t let her marketing and retail skills go to waste as she volunteered in the Centra Hospital Gift shop for 17 years. Often she went after church on Sundays before it opened to restock the shelves until the pandemic stopped her. She was on the women’s auxiliary and was on the board for a time. She was also a member of Holy Cross Catholic Church.

Throughout her 90 years, she encountered so many people, many of which became life-long friends until her death. She touched the hearts of so many and was so frequently referred to as that “Sweet Lady”. She loved each and every one of them back, not just her immediate family and her faithful companion, Phonsi, but her niece Tana who she loved as a sister and spoke to weekly, the ladies from Sweet Zoo (the Zooties,) the “Card Girls” from the hospital, her retired long-time housekeeper and her husband, her hairdresser who she shared cheesecake recipes with, so so many people, too many to list! As her friend said on the morning Oma passed “She was a true love of everyone who crossed her path, and we will miss her.”

Memorial contributions may be sent to the Lynchburg Humane Society, 1211 Old Graves Mill Road, Lynchburg, VA 24502.

Services will be held at a later date.

Tharp Funeral Home & Crematory, Lynchburg, is assisting the family.

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