Sunday, October 24, 2010

The Dash Between: Teddy Witt, Elyria's first woman patrolman, Lorain County Community College academic advisor

Teddy Witt told her family that God directed her life. She, in turn, helped guide troubled youngsters toward become responsible citizens, nontraditional college students on their journey in higher education and victims of rape and domestic violence on a path toward healing.

She prayed about becoming the first woman to hold patrolman status with the Elyria (Ohio) Police Department. Once convinced this was part of a divine plan, Teddy took the job in 1973.

While on the police force, the 1965 Lorain Admiral King High School graduate met and married fellow officer Larry Witt, divorced father of two preschoolers. Teddy raised Larry's kids from a previous marriage along with their biological son in Grafton, Ohio.

“She always treated us as her own children; we never felt otherwise,” said daughter, Jennifer Tipple. “She once told me she knew she was to marry my dad. She prayed about it and felt that was where God wanted her to be. Lucky for us that was the case, because we would not be the people we are today without her.”

Teddy continued her education, earning a bachelor's degree from what is now Ashland (Ohio) University, and becoming an academic advisor at Lorain County Community College in Elyria, Ohio.

In May 2008, Teddy was told she had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.

"She couldn’t hold a pencil in her right hand," her husband said. "She got to the point where she couldn't write a note with her hands."

The disease progressed so quickly that within a few weeks she had to leave the college. She gradually lost her ability to walk, stand and talk. She communicated with friends, family and former colleagues with the aid of a computer with eye control, until she could no longer master her eye movements. The illness eventually took away her ability to breathe.

"She dealt with (ALS) by surrendering to God," her husband said.

Click here to read about the Dash Between Dec. 3, 1947, when Teddy Witt was born Theodores Zestoki in Lorain, Ohio, and Sept. 25, 2010, when she died at age 62. The story was published in the Oct. 24, 2010, edition of the Elyria Chronicle-Telegram.

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