I have lost many friends over the years. It seems each one gets harder and harder as I get older. This past Saturday, a woman I have admired and looked up to for many years lost her fight with cancer. Today, my Cotillion sister Beth Cleaver is being laid to rest in Laurel, Mississippi. Due to circumstances I’m not ready to talk about yet, I am unable to attend the funeral. Instead, I’m trying to console myself with sharing her memory with others who knew and loved her. My only regret is that I never told her what she meant to me, or that she was my hero. But looking back over our conversations over the years, she probably already knew. She was, after all, a brilliant woman.
Her obituary, courtesy of the Laurel Leader-Call:
Elizabeth Anne “Beth” Cleaver died peacefully on April 22, 2017, at South Central Regional Medical Center after an extended illness, with her sister Laura Maureen Palmer and her father Lawrence Hill O’Neill at her side.
Beth was born Nov. 1,1966, in Oxford and spent most of her life growing up in Pascagoula. After graduating from high school in Pascagoula, she attended the University of Alabama, where she became a lifelong fan of the Alabama varsity football teams.
As an Air Force technical sergeant E-6, Ms. Cleaver served in Germany, Turkey, Arizona and Washington, D.C. After 11 years of Air Force duty she received a medical retirement discharge as a disabled veteran.
Prior to her hospitalization in Laurel. she lived in Mobile, Ala.
Survivors of Elizabeth Anne Cleaver include her daughter Sydney Elizabeth Cleaver of Herndon, Va.; her father Lawrence Hill O’Neill (Adrienne) of Laurel; her sister Laura Maureen Palmer (Ray) of Laurel; her brothers James Weatherford Aull (Lee) of Mobile and Daniel Weatherford Aull (Katie) of Asheville, N.C.; her nieces Katherine Grace Palmer and Allison Randall Palmer, both of Laurel; and special friend Shana Holt of Ridgeland.
Ms. Cleaver was preceded in death by her mother Barbara Elizabeth Weatherford Aull; her brother Michael Lawrence O’Neill; and her grandparents Dr. William and Rachael Milner Weatherford and Joseph James and Anne Hill O’Neill.
Visitation will be Thursday at 1 p.m. in the chapel of St. John’s Episcopal Church.The funeral will take place at 2 p.m. at St. John’s with the interment of ashes in the church’s columbarium in the church courtyard. St. John’s Episcopal Church is located at 541 North Fifth Ave. in Laurel.
Memorial gifts for Ms. Cleaver may be sent to The Cancer Research Institute, 55 Broadway, Suite 1802, New York, NY 10006, www.cancerresearch.org, or flowers or memorial gifts to St. John’s Episcopal Church, P.O. Box 1766, Laurel, MS 39441.
To sign the online guestbook, visit www.memorychapellaurel.com.
Rest in peace, and Roll Tide Roll, Beth. I love you bunches!