November 30, -0001 - February 27, 2010
CONLEY, Lee A.(nee Travis), beloved precious wife and â€œAngelâ€ of James Conley, cherished daughter of David and Barbara Travis, loved sister of Becky Travis Denham, dear aunt of Josh Coats, Morgan Coats and Tyler Denham, endeared supporter of Saunia and Michael Conley, died Saturday, February 27, 2010 at Hospice of Cincinnati Blue Ash. She bravely fought complications due to a staph infection acquired in connection with an operation to repair a broken elbow. Lee lived an inspiring life battling Lupus and the side effects of treatments for the disease. Please refer to the Hodapp Funeral Home website (www.hodappfuneralhome.com) for an inspiring story of her life. Memorial services will be held at Hodapp Funeral Home, 8815 Cincinnati Columbus Road, West Chester, Ohio 45069 on Saturday, March 6, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. with a ceremony beginning at 3:00 p.m. Memorials to Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) at www.lupus.org Lee Ann Conley A courageous woman with a golden heart, Lee earned her life day by day combating Lupus and the side effects of medical treatment for more than 32 of her 52 years. Independent and determined, Lee strived to be normal and demanded 100% of her physical capacity 100% of the time. Generous and caring, she was endeared by many as she routinely endured great pain with a smile on her face. She was a picture of grace and an inspiration to all who had the insight and capacity to witness her inner strength. This is a brief account of the trials and tribulations of her life. Born in Steubenville, Ohio on 3/14/57, Lee was adopted by David and Barbara Travis. She was raised in a good home with her adopted sister Becky. She often spoke in remembrance of her grandparents, aunts and cousins. The pictures show an adorable petite young girl who was once the Pumpkin Queen of Barnesville. Her fondest memories of her teen years were being a cheerleader, working for the local Veterinarian, her academic success, and a trip to France in her Senior year of high school. Lee fell ill at age 19 and was eventually diagnosed with Lupus. Unable to cope with her impairment, the young man she loved and treasured cancelled their marriage plans only a few days before the wedding. Her life was completely turned inside out losing her fiancÃ© and facing a life combating a horrible auto immune deficiency disease. Her impairment also forced her to forego her life ambition to be a ballet dancer. She rebounded, found love and gave love. Early and severe Lupus flare-ups threatened her life, but with medical assistance and an incredible will to survive, she pulled through. The strong medicine came loaded with debilitating side effects. Throughout her twenties she suffered from bloating and other painful side effects of steroids and other medicines. Combating the disease and treatment over 32 years, Lee endured 18 major operations concentrated in her last 10 years. Leeâ€™s operations were primarily on her lower half, impairing her mobility. Each required painful recovery and therapy which she handled courageously with great determination and positive energy. Her pain and agony was virtually transparent to most. She put a smile on her face, got up and went hard at it every single day. She simply never quit and she never let anything hold her down. She always returned to work much sooner than doctors expected and she amazed and inspired her orthopedic surgeons and rehab therapists. They could not help but love and admire her. She often chose to endure pain rather than fog her mind and will with pain medication. Pain levels she would call 1-5 might easily be in the upper ranges of 5-10 for most. The medical world who served her was continuously impressed and astounded by her whit, good humor, unwavering attitude and determination, and her incredible strength and will against all odds. She strived for normalcy and bravely fought every challenge. Beginning in her late twenties, Leeâ€™s joints began to crumble. She endured at separate times, five regular or routine hip replacements, two ankle fusions, and a replacement of her right knee. She also required complete left and right side hip and pelvic revisions which were each extensive ground breaking surgeries. Leading up to the right side pelvic revision, she endured a regular hip replacement that went very well, but she became disoriented and delirious. She forcefully climbed out of the hospital bed and collapsed irreparably dislocating the hip. She had to endure multiple relocation surgeries and once braved rehab therapy on a dislocated hip through unbelievably excruciating pain. The fact that she recovered from the right side complete pelvic revision was a medical miracle, but she did recover and walked once again, even despite the set-back of a right side ankle fusion. There was a familiar cycle of events surrounding each major surgery Lee endured. First, generally while recovering from her previous surgery, another joint would start to fail, partially due to the stresses of compensating for the operated joint during the recovery and rehab processes. She would endure the pain of the failing joint as long as she could or the doctors would accept. Then came the uncertainty and fear factor leading up to the surgery, knowing very well the challenges awaiting her. She mentally prepared herself for the entire process of surgery, recovery and rehab before each major endeavor. She took it all in, faced her fears, and went into each surgery with amazing strength and determinationâ€”and always with a much shorter recovery plan than the doctors projected. After the surgery, not more than two or three days passed before she was mentally ready to get out of the hospital and start therapy on her journey to normalcy and independence (walking, driving, work, daily activities). It was an amazing and remarkable process to witness. Step by step, she made one achievement after another and she was ecstatic to be able to feed herself, get up and down from the chair or bed on her own, shower, dress herself, drive a car, go to the doctor by herself, get herself to and from work, and eventually walk without ambulatory assistance. On our anniversary, August 25th, 2009, Lee danced on the beach with jubilance simply because she was able to carry her plate from the buffet to the table unassisted, for the first time in years. She was so ecstatic saying â€œlook at meâ€. So many things we take for granted, she never did. She expressed such joy and pride in each little achievement much like a baby rolling, crawling, walking and running. She gratefully accepted needed help many people gave her, but she helped herself and refrained from expectation. She understood her limitations, but she was eager and willing to push them to the max and cautiously exceed them. Lee once lost her balance pulling a carrot from her garden and fell breaking both her wrists. The ordeal completely disabled her for a period of time, but she endured it, returning to normalcy. She also suffered from Lupus Arthritis in her left shoulder and both her hands. She endured aggressive chemotherapy for several weeks to successfully stabilize her kidney function. She successfully combated bone degeneration and actually reversed the process greatly improving her bone density. No matter the challenge, she embraced it and emerged victoriously. In October 2009, Lee fell and broke her right elbow while in Florida visiting her parents to help out with her father, who had suffered a heart attack and bypass surgery. The broken elbow required surgical repair and Lee acquired a staph infection, which required another surgery two weeks later, to remove the hardware and infection. The second surgery took its toll on Lee and she had great difficulty recovering. She was in ICU on a respirator, comatose for the next three days. Awakened, her weakened kidneys were never able to recover and she was soon forced into dialysis. She gained over 26 pounds in fluids, affecting her lungs and heart, and was transferred to the cardiovascular unit. The staph infection spread to her left shoulder and thumb, requiring another operation for removal. She fought through all this and endured the painfully draining and aggressive dialysis treatment that eventually reduced the edema to acceptable levels. She went to rehab and surprised all by a quicker than expected recovery, and she was released to go home in December where she spent the holidays with her husband and dogs. She went to dialysis three times per week and progressed rapidly with the home rehab therapy. Her antibiotic treatment for the infection was ceased on 12/22/09, and she visited the orthopedic surgeon and had blood tests done. The doctor and therapist both cleared her to drive as of the first of the new year and she drove herself to the doctor on Monday January 4, 2010. It was another hard fought battle with great success. But the very next day dialysis took a lot out of her. Thursday morning January 7th she was back in the hospital, and the staph infection was much worse than it had been the first time having spread up and down her arm and throughout her body. It was horrifying and the fight began all over again. But this time the problems were compounded and many and her pain was the most unbearable. With her will to survive and her courage to endure the agony intact, she fought with all her heart, mind and soul. Her precious little body was not strong enough for the task. Lee was a truly strong and brave individual who touched the hearts of many and inspired us all with her incredible positive energy, courage and fortitude. Lee greatly valued life, she loved animals (especially dogs), and she was charitably generous to all causes. She rarely complained, and she emphatically denounced self pity and readily dismissed pity for her by others. She was a brilliant woman who commanded respect and appreciation with great dignity and integrity. She was diligent in her work and she did in fact achieve normalcy. She always held her head up high with the capacity to seize, enjoy and treasure her many wonderful and joyful moments, experiences and occasions as precious gifts of life. She loved and was loved. She was a loving and devoted wife, a career minded independent woman, and a beautiful little girl at heart. In memoriam and tribute, in the words of a great and wonderful friend she adored, Mr. Don Sabol, whose life was also tragically cut short, her message was simply: Enjoy Life! She was and always will be my â€œAngelâ€Lee. This tribute was written by her husband with great gratitude and everlasting love. Her puppies, Fire and Ice, and I will forever miss her. Wonderful memories in the face of adversity: â€¢ Drives to discover covered bridges in Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maineâ€”we kissed on each of them. â€¢ Trips to Hocking Hills, Brown County Indiana, Red River Gorge, Breaks Interstate Park, and the Smokey Mountains to enjoy the splendor of nature in log cabins and chalets. â€¢ Trips to Marble Head and the Lake Erie Islandsâ€”we visited a Carousel Museum in Sandusky and Lee road on an antique wooden horse on a beautiful indoor carousel â€¢ Trips to the Lake Michigan Dunes, Traverse City and Mackinac Islandâ€”Lee actually climbed a dune and danced on top in celebration of the accomplishment. We kayaked a river in Michigan with my son, Mike Conley. We spelled our names with rocks in shin deep clear water on the point beyond one of the lighthouses–a treasured memory for all of us. â€¢ Kayaking anywhereâ€”Lee loved it and was very good at itâ€”her impairment was largely removed in the water. â€¢ Playing Euchre monthly with our very loved friends Greg and Martha â€¢ Listening to our good friend Randy Turner (who passed last February, may he rest in peace) play guitar. She loved Randy and endured a challenging trip up a mountain in eastern Kentucky to attend burial ceremony. â€¢ Listening to our good friend Dave Webster play guitar and sing anywhere. She loved how he performed songs of Dan Fogelberg, one of her favorite artists. I could not get her to shut up about how handsome she thought Dave was. He really turned her on but I got to take her home. â€¢ Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years gatherings with our wonderful neighbors and friendsâ€”special thanks, love and appreciation to Don and Diane Meeks, George Griffin, Chris Griffin and Carl and Billie Burton, Cathy Walters and Brenda Bay for all the wonderful support, caring, assistance and opening their homes and hearts to both of us and our puppies. â€¢ Special get together occasions with the Gate House girls of Muskingham Universityâ€”Barbie, Brenda and Mindy. I was once the cabana boy serving them and they talked and talked and talkedâ€”with great laughter and happiness and wonderful memories. â€¢ Trips to Hilton Head, Savannah, Edisto, Charleston South Carolina, Asheville North Carolina. Hilton Head and Savannah were her favorites but she loved all these places. She loved the mansions and plantations. She loved the Biltmore Estate and we even kayaked on the French River in August 2009 around the Biltmore. On this same trip, she enjoyed dining at Paula Deanâ€™s restaurant in Savannah. â€¢ An amazing trip to Hawaii where she enjoyed the whales and we kayaked on Kauai. Our Luau in Maui was one of her favorite memories. She never stopped talking about this trip or how wonderful it was to her. â€¢ A trip to Chicago to see the Joffrey Ballet perform from a box seat in a historic theatreâ€”she felt like a princess. Our hotel room overlooked the lake and I pushed her in a wheel chair all around the lakeshoreâ€”we had so much fun. A romantic and loving weekend. â€¢ Trip to an all inclusive resort in the Dominican Republic. She set on bar stools in the pool. We kayaked in the ocean. She snorkeled. â€¢ Trip to Puerto Vallarta in March 2009. We enjoyed the whales, swam with and kissed and hugged dolphins, and enjoyed a wonderful romantic dinner on our terrace overlooking the ocean. â€¢ We rented a beach front condo near Fort Myers and spent the weekend there with her parents David and Barbara Travis. She cherished the time we spent with them in Florida. â€¢ Anniversary trip to Seattle. We drove up snow covered Mt. Rainier in a convertible, drove up the coast of Washington stopping at wonderful beaches and in the rain forest, drove to the top of the Olympic Mountains, and crossed Peugeot Sound on a ferry in twilight adoring the beautiful Seattle Skyline. â€¢ Trip to Maine to visit and sail with our loved friends, Chris Griffin and George Griffin. We greatly enjoyed our sail on their historic Friendship Sloop, the Surprise. We viewed lighthouses, seals, and experienced sailing in the fog with lighthouse fog horns blowing all around us. â€¢ Sailing on Lake Cowan and Land Between the Lakes. We had a lot of fun but we were not good sailors. We camped at Land between the Lakes with my son Mike and tried to keep up with him on wave runners. Lee tossed baseball with Mike and me. He enjoyed several trips with us growing up. â€¢ Trips to visit my daughter and her husband (Saunia and John Withers), and their dogs, in Nelsonville, New Albany and Athens, Ohio and Lansing, Michigan. We enjoyed all the time we spent with them playing music and talking. â€¢ Her Birthday treat for me at Rupp Arena. Lee stood next to some of the Kentucky Basketball players she called giants in sheer amazement at their size. She looked so tiny and it thrilled her. She was so excited about getting us tickets to see a Kentucky gameâ€”an incredible experience. â€¢ Watching Lee at home. She was amazing and organized. She loved on the dogs constantly. She enjoyed the pool and used it therapeutically, she loved setting in the hot tub in snow fall, she loved setting on her front porch reading and listening to the water fountain with her puppies, she enjoyed listening to me play guitar and sing to her, she played the piano and the harp, she loved gardening and growing her own herbs and vegetables, she loved working with me to make our house our dream home. â€¢ Dinners with our friends Carl and Debbie Coburn. Lee absolutely loved and adored Debbie. Special thanks for the hospital bedside prayer Debbie gave her. She spoke of it with great honor and gratitude. Carl and his father also visited her in the hospital to pray for her. Carlâ€™s mother asked about Lee regularly and prayed for her daily. Thank you all very, very much. â€¢ Lee and I married in a beautiful riverfront Chapel in the Smokey Mountains. I wrote our wedding song and played it for her the very first time as she walked down the aisle. It was a precious and memorable beginning. We re-visited the Chapel on our way back from Hilton Head in August 2009. â€¢ On our first trip to Hilton Head, we picked out some pictures that now hang on our walls. One of these was a picture of a room with a harp and grand piano in it. Our dream was to build that room and we didâ€”the picture now hangs on the chimney center above the fireplace between the baby grand piano and a beautiful harp. It is a great room we call our music parlor. She adored the room. Special thanks to our employers and my many clients for the outstanding support, care and concern. Lee was so touched to receive all the flowers and arrangements you sent. It truly lifted her heart. There are so many more wonderful memories and Lee made the most of the time she had. Nothing held her down and I am so proud to have helped her to maximize her life. I wish to extend many thanks and great love to all our wonderful friends, neighbors and co-workers for the love, caring, support and prayers. You are a treasured part of our lives and Lee will fondly look over all of you and me.
I only met Lee one time in Puerto Vallarta but we had the most wonderful experience together while watching the whales as they performed for us that day. I hope she swims with the dolphins and whales now as often as only she can.
What a beautiful story, what a beautiful life, what a beautiful relationship…. and you have a gift for portraying it so vividly; thank you for sharing yours and Lee’s life and memories with the rest of us, not fortunate enough to know both of you first-hand. Jan and I have also enjoyed a few of the same locations and experiences in our life together. You continue to be in our prayers.
Sincerely – Jim A.
I can’t imagine the sense of loss that you must be feeling. We have all lost someone special the day Lee passed from this world.
I take comfort knowing that she is no longer in any pain. I hope that this brings you some comfort as well. She is now dancing with the angels in heaven and waiting for us to join her.
I will always smile whenever I think of Lee. She touched all our lives in a very special way.
May God take care of you and your family in this time of sorrow.
She was a wonderful person that i am glad that i got to meet. She brought a lot of joy to my life and i was thankful for the positive thinking that she added to my life especially when i wasn’t feeling so positive. She was a joy to know and consider a friend. I loved her so much.
Lee was such a great person and friend. She was always there if you needed a shoulder to cry on or just someone to listen to you. Lee was a very brave person who never would let anyone tell her she couldn’t do something. she will be missed by many of people and will be an inspiration to many. We love you Lee and you will always be in my heart.
In Loving memory of Lee Conley who was my best friend. Her beauty and extreme strength and determination were beyond any I have ever seen. I will miss her so much. She is someone you will never ever forget.
With much love,
Lee was a true inspiration to all who knew her. I was lucky enough to work with Lee. During that time she never complained about her disease, but was always concerned about everyone else. That was Lee’s caring nature.
Lee was a good friend that will be missed, but never forgotten.
I was blessed to be able to work with such a wonderful, caring loving person like Lee. She was truly an inspiration in the way she pushed herself through everything. She will be missed, but her memory will live on in all of us!!
Lee was an inspiration to all her knew her.