Heaven has another Angel. Our Wonder Woman, Mother, Grandmother, and Great-Grandmother, Mrs. Cleo G. Dalton (nee Dilley), 80, of Fayetteville, N.C., peacefully passed away at home on Sunday, November 3, 2019, surrounded by love and compassion.
Mom was born to the late Merritt and Ethel Dilley (nee Hawley), Sept. 7, 1939, in Corvallis, Oregon. She graduated from Corvallis High School in 1957 and married our dad, the late Gary Lee Dalton, in 1958.
Cleo is survived by two of her three children: Danny Dalton, of Fayetteville; and, Denise Dalton (Andrew Murphy), of New Freedom, Pennsylvania. She is also survived by her granddaughter, Melinda Schneider (Justin) and one great-grandson, Chase, of Cockeysville, Maryland; her sister, Roxie Peters, and her niece, DeVonna Monasmith (Jerry), all of Seattle, Washington; her nephews, Terry Peters of McLouth, Kansas, and Ricky Peters (Cariz) of Reno, Nevada; her sisters-in-law of her extended Dalton (Sharon, Susann, Marilyn, Becca, Shirley) and Guthrie (Debbie, Janet, Pam) families, most of Oregon; plus, her many extended relatives in the Dilley, Hawley, and Belknap families of Oregon. Cleo was preceded in death by her many endearing pets, her devoted husband of 52 years, Gary, in 2010; and her beloved eldest son, Douglas, in 2019.
Favorite memories of Mom’s childhood include her first five years living on the family’s Blodgett, Oregon farm, playing with her pet bunny, and watching the circus unload the animals from trains on the railroad behind her home (which was a house her grandfather built when they settled in the area in the 1840’s). Hobos of that era would often jump on the nearby trains, and although she wasn’t allowed to go near them, she would see her father regularly bringing them food, and she would sneak up to listen to them talk. Perhaps that’s where her true skill and love for listening to other people’s stories began.
As the loyal wife of a career Green Beret soldier, Mom led our family by one great example after another as we lived and traveled far and wide. During our time in Salt Lake City, Utah, in the 1970’s, Mom and Dad were actively involved in the Coast Guard Auxiliary and tremendously enjoyed boating on their 23’ Owens Cabin Cruiser. After settling down near Fayetteville/Fort Bragg, N.C., they enjoyed owning and operating their own woodworking business with their son Douglas, beginning in 1986.
Throughout the years, Mom found her volunteer work at hospitals and military organizations to be tremendously rewarding. Her most important role though, the one that defined her, was “stay-at-home” mom. She was the affectionate, sweet, and often silly, matron of our family, amusingly known as “the Dalton Gang.” Mom thrived on laughter because, as she once said, “‘Murphy’s Law’ is alive and well in our home and we still ‘get stupid’ once or twice a week.” She would often wear funny masks and sing made-up songs to make all of us laugh.
Mom was a talented artist and craftswoman, seamstress, and gardener. She took great pride in keeping a clean and organized home. If you were looking for something, Mom could tell you it’s exact location. She passed on her wonderful creativity, keen eye for order, and unique spirit to all her children.
Mom enjoyed her many years of membership at the Cornerstone United Methodist Church. As her health declined, she was sad to miss Sundays at church, where she would see many of her friends. Mom believed that God’s purpose for her life, besides being our mother, was to also be the ever-present wind beneath the wings of our older brother, Douglas, who passed away on Good Friday earlier this year. Every day of Doug’s life, he was faced with seemingly impossible physical challenges as a consequence of his severe form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease. Unable to ever walk, and requiring assistance all of his 58 years, Mom was there for Doug nearly every moment of every day. Because she taught him to persevere, he went on to earn his B.A. in Religion (Minor in Psychology) and M.Sc. in Rehabilitation Counseling, he enjoyed his career as a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for North Carolina, and he was the recipient of many achievements and awards, including the Governor's Award for Disabled North Carolinian of the Year. Doug was known for his huge smile, contagious joy, impressive intelligence, and remarkable faith. Mom was our Wonder Woman because in teaching Douglas how to persevere, we saw how she, too, had the strength to continue caring for him despite her own physical limitations, in turn, teaching and inspiring us all to achieve far greater than our challenges can limit.
Mom was Doug’s daily caregiver until her own declining health put her in a wheelchair a few years ago. Thankfully, Douglas and Mom were cared for this year with incredible love, laughter, and compassion by our Fantastic Four: Gina Irvine, Lorrie Budden, Bianca Sanders, and JaNaisha Irvine and they continued to care for Mom after Doug’s passage to Heaven in April. Together they’ve shared stories, smiles, tears, and lots of laughter on any given day (and let Mom sneak in her beloved sweet treats during many of those!). From taking Mom out for fun excursions to creating gnome gardens at home, Mom was as much a friend to these girls, as they were friends to her, and some of their family members too. Always eager to hear about their escapades in life, and to be a sounding board and offer advice when asked, Mom also had a witty side to her so the girls always knew they might sometimes get a quirky come-back instead of sweet motherly advice. They didn’t just care for Mom, they loved her, and she loved them in return.
Mom was tremendously dedicated to her family, and we take great comfort knowing that Mom is now running with Douglas, in Heaven. Both, mercifully unencumbered by the physical limitations, and pain that they knew so well. Mom, all of us whom love you dearly will always remember your endless kindness, funny wit, and undying affection. We miss you immensely. Godspeed, Mom!
Funeral services will be held on Tuesday, November 12, 2019. Visitation will begin at 11:30 a.m., followed by Mom’s service at 12:30 p.m., both at Rogers & Breece Funeral Home. Her burial ceremony will immediately follow at 2:00 p.m. in the Sandhills State Veterans Cemetery where she will rest with our Dad, Gary, and our brother, Douglas, her best friend.
In lieu of flowers, we request donations be sent in remembrance of Cleo Dalton and Douglas Dalton, to the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA): 800.606.2682; or, mail to: Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association, PO Box 105, Glenolden, PA 19036; or, use this link: https://www.cmtausa.org/ways-to-give/
To send flowers to Cleo G. Dalton's family, please visit our floral section.
PO Box 105, Glenolden PA 19036